Cover Image: A Bittersweet Surprise

A Bittersweet Surprise

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Member Reviews

This was a cute book about Emma working to buy her father's candy shop. There is also some mystery with a woman she takes in to her house and a painting hanging in the candy shop. I enjoyed discovering these mysteries with Emma and following her story to obtain the shop.

I gave less stars because I at times felt there were so many storylines going on at once.
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If you need a sweet, small-town story, this is what you need!A little mystery and a little angst keep your interest till the end!It touches on so many important issues but in a light and easy way.It is very easy to read, I love both the main protagonist as well as all side characters.The characters are believable and well developed.
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Emma has a very kind heart and will do anything to help anyone. But now she needs help, her stepmother is selling her late fathers sweet shop and the fees at her grandmothers nursing home are becoming too much to manage.  She would love to buy out her stepmothers portion of the shop but everything seems too much right now. However with the discovery of a painting that is apparently worth quite a lot of money, are things changing direction for Emma?

A sweet story wth some twists and turns that I enjoyed.
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A Bittersweet Surprise by Cynthia Ellingsen was a joy to read. Set in the fictional town of Starlight Cove, it’s the story of chocolatier Emma, who’s father founded The Sweetery, the towns chocolate shop. Emma’s stepmother Gillian surprises Emma with the news that she plans to sell the chocolate shop. Emma and Gillian have a troubled relationship and this news does not help that. But Emma discovers a painting that’s been hanging in The Sweetery for years may have been painted by a famous artist, and would provide the collateral Emma needs to buy The Sweetery.  Then there’s mystery woman, Lydia, and her son, Jamal. Emma has mixed feelings about them, but having a good heart, she sets out to help them in whatever way she can, even providing them with a place to stay. In the midst of the story is best friend, Kailyn, and romantic interest, Cody. This was just a very sweet story of forgiveness, family, doing the right thing, charity, hope, and all things that make life sweet.

I enjoyed A Bittersweet Surprise and thank Netgalley and the publisher for a e-copy of the book for a review. #netgalley #abittersweetsurprise
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The "good news" her stepmother boasts of isn't good news to Emma Laurent. Her father's candy store is her pride and joy. Selling it to a large company isn't good news, it's heartbreaking. 

Emma doesn't like to ask for help, but she needs to save the shop. Her only hope is to qualify for a loan in order to buy it. She has to save the shop. It's the only way she can afford the assisted living apartment her grandmother calls home.

As if she doesn't have enough on her mind, there's a single mom in town who seems to need a friend and Emma can't turn her back on anyone. Plus, a secretive couple has offered Emma $20,000 for a painting of her father's that's been a candy shop fixture. The painting isn't by anyone famous from what Emma can tell, so their sudden interest is unusual. The money, however, could be the answer to all of her problems getting a loan to purchase the shop and keeping her grandmother where she's happiest.

There's a lot going on in A Bittersweet Surprise. Add a growing romance between Emma and a local hardware shop owner. This puts the count at one romance, the painting mystery, the mystery of the single mom's sudden appearance and what she's hiding, and the efforts to save the candy shop. There's still one more thing that I haven't even mentioned. Emma's mother left when she was very young. Emma's always wondered if her mom is out there.

Some of these stories will carry on in future books I think. I'm not sure. The book felt complete in some areas and not in others. It was a solid read, but some unanswered questions have me confused. Other books in the Starlight Cove series feature different characters each time, yet A Bittersweet Surprise seemed like it was the start of a series featuring Emma. I have no idea if the ending simply left gaps or if the author does plan to spin off a series from here.
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A feel good, quick read book for fans of Elizabeth Berg - a close town where everyone knows everyone’s business but everyone works together to form a close knit community. A happy story with a happy ending.
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There is not one thing bad you can say about this book. From the first page to the very last word it kept my interest. It flows so wonderfully and keeps you happy and upbeat most always. There are a few tears in it but overall it’s a uplifting story. 
I believe this is my first by this author. I’ll be reading more now. 
Thank you #netgalley and #lakeunion for this book. This review is my own. 

A big 5 stars for a highly recommended book.
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Emma has always been a person who helps other.  Now her life is crumbling around her.  Her step-mother is selling her late dad's candy shop to a conglomerate and her grandmother's nursing home fees are going up to the unaffordable.  This is on top of the anniversary date of her fiance's death.  Emma's friends and neighbors decide to help out. This is a good story of good returning to those who deserve it. A nice easy clean read. This is book 3 in the Starlight Cove series and can be read as a stand alone.  I received a copy of this ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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Nice feel good book. It flowed very well. was easy to read. Nice characters. Good storyline. What’s not to love.
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Emma loves running her family's candy shop, creating new delicious treats and seeing her friends savour her new offerings; however, her father left the candy shop to his second wife who is selling the shop to a corporation. The only way that Emma can keep the shop is to buy out her step-mother at a higher profit than the corporation has offered her. The catch, of course, is that Emma has no extra money and very little self-esteem to think outside of the box. What she does have is loyal customers, friends whom Emma has helped over the years who are ready to return the favor and.... a mysterious painting that has hung in the candy shop since her father was alive. When a stranger makes Emma a flabbergastingly large sum of money for the artwork, Emma begins to suspect there is more to the painting than she realizes.

I absolutely loved and adored A Bittersweet Surprise. There was drama, family issues that had to be overcome but, most importantly, it illustrated how women, given the chance, can overcome obstacles in order to succeed. Emma not only has the skills necessary to be a successful business owner, she a heart that is full of gold. We see Emma as she selflessly helps the other people in her town, a homeless woman and her son, everyone she comes in contact with. She isn't perfect but she shows what goodness means. I found myself completely immersed in Emma's story and all of the characters in the book. A Bittersweet Surprise is the third installment of a series but it works beautifully as a stand-alone. Ellingsen uses the "shared universe" style of writing where, as readers, we are introduced to a town or setting that is common throughout the series but the characters, though they may be familiar to us, each have their own story and plot. She has done a great job introducing the characters so that you know their backstory without the need to read each book in order. I highly recommend the book and the entire series - which I've now read.
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Cynthia Ellingsen is a new author to me and I was really impressed with her work. The setting, a sweet/candy shop, appealed to me from the very first chapter but I also really enjoyed the character development too. The storyline had some interested twists with characters that both surprised me and provided people that I enjoyed disliking. I’ll definitely read more from this author!
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Starlight Cove and Emma's Sweetery store are so enchanting and growing up in MI and having ties in Northern MI I could really picture the little town that was depicted and the small town feel of it!  I really enjoyed the storyline and the snippets of info throughout the book that led me to the sweet ending.  There are good people in this world yet, and I was thankful to see in this book good things happen to good people!  This was a nice easy read and I wanted to keep coming back to it to solve the mystery of the painting.  Definitely will be finding more stories on Starlight Cove and it's people from Cynthia Ellingsen.
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Cynthia Ellingsen's "A Bittersweet Surprise" is a delightful book about Emma Laurent, a young woman trying to overcome more than her fair share of struggles: she's struggling to love again following the death of her fiancé, she's struggling to get her finances in order after a bad experience helping out a friend, she's struggling to keep her grandmother in an assisted living facility, and she's struggling to hold on to her late father's chocolate shop in the small town of Starlight Cove.

Emma is a most winsome character and clearly has a heart for helping others, even when criticized for doing so by close friends and family. Her efforts to help a homeless mother and son are particularly enjoyable to read, because Emma wonders whether she's being taken advantage of and clearly wants to be compassionate yet smart about it.

The book includes an intriguing subplot about an old painting hanging in the candy shop, a portrait of Emma as a young girl. A vacationing couple offers her $20,000 for the artwork, and Emma wonders why. Meanwhile, she finds herself developing feelings for her fitness instructor and wondering whether she's ready to love again.

Ellingsen's writing is lovely, her characters are thoughtfully crafted, and the story is one that will stick with readers. It even felt a little bittersweet to leave Starlight Cove, and I can't wait to book my next stay.
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This is simply a beautiful story written so well that as a reader I was drawn into the charcters and story. That is the sign of a great writer. I have not read the previous in the series but found I was able to learn all the charcters and follow along with ease. I highly recommend this book for your reading enjoyment for all who love stories of redemption,  starting over and strong women that steer their own life course. 
Thank you to the publisher and to Net Galley. My review opinion is my own and will be cross posted. 

Here we have the continuation of the story of  Emma, a women with a big heart who has known hard times. She has opened her heart to a homeless Mother and son while facing losing her long time job in the family candy shop thanks to her evil stepmother.   She adores the family shop and does not want to lose it so she forms a plan to possibly save the shop and take over. She is also faced with a mysterious offer of 20K for a painting of her that has been in the shop since she was a child.  Intrigued why someone would want to buy her painting she beings to investigate and soon a mystery forms.  Although the sale would be her saving grace she is hesitant until she researches their motives. 

I loved the well drawn charcters, the elements of life in a small town and Emma as a strong charcter. This is the perfect afternoon read . Well done to the author. I hope to read more by this author in the future.  Quite well done and one of the best books I have read in 2019 !
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Emma Laurent has always preferred helping others to asking for help. But now, she’s the one in need. Her stepmother is selling her late father’s candy shop, her grandmother’s assisted-living facility has become a financial burden, and the anniversary of her fiancé’s death is quickly approaching. Rather than face her problems, Emma does what she does best—finds someone else to help by offering a mother and son with nowhere to go somewhere to stay. So when a couple visiting Starlight Cove suddenly offers to pay $20,000 for the old painting that has hung on the candy shop’s wall since Emma was a child, it seems like fate has stepped in to help Emma in return—but the more she thinks about it, the more suspicious the offer seems. Determined to uncover why the couple is so interested in the painting, Emma begins to investigate, unknowingly wading into a sea of old family secrets. At the same time, a new flirtation has her feeling guilty and confused. As Emma uncovers more about the past, can she find the courage she needs to save the candy shop and give herself permission to open her heart to love again?

I had a great time reading this book and now I am looking forward to reading more books by the same author. Many many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for granting me access to this eARC.
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Beautifully written, this charming read is a delight from start to finish. There's a lot going on, and it's a credit to the writer's skill that it is nonetheless easy to follow.

Many thanks to NetGalley and to the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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At the beginning of the book, Emma Laurent, the main character is looking at a painting entitled "The Girl With the Butterscotch Hair." The painting is displayed on the wall of her family's candy shop, and Emma reflects on how much has changed in the 27 years since she was the five year old in that painting, "beaming as she sipped chocolate" and feeling excited over the upcoming Christmas, as reflected in the painting's depiction of the store during the holiday season. 

Fast forward to today, and she's the manager of Starlight Cove's candy shop, which her stepmother Gillian inherited after Emma's father died.  Although Gillian is the only mother that Emma has known, it's a strained relationship, since Gillian sent Emma to live with her grandmother after her husband (Emma's father) died.  Emma had secretly hoped that someday she could buy the candy shop, but one evening her stepmother surprises her with the news that she's selling the shop because she needs the money to fund her retirement. Emma is surprised that once again, her stepmother is leaving her out in the cold, since the sale of the shop  means Emma will no longer have a job. 

Throw in a few other side plots -- including the fact that Emma is struggling to pay for her grandmother's assisted living facility, the fact that Emma offers to open her home to a mother and son who have no place else to go, and the mystery surrounding a couple who love the painting so much they are willing to pay $20,000 for it.  Then there's the romance subplot, with Emma discovering that she has a growing attraction for one of her high school classmates, Cody, who runs the town's hardware store and created an after-school program for at risk youth in the community. 

Yes, there's plenty in this story to keep the reader intrigued and turning the page, to find out how Emma's story will unfold. Will she follow her friend's advice and look for a way to purchase the candy shop? What is the mystery behind the homeless mother and son who suddenly show up in town?    Is she able to help them overcome their problems? Does Emma resolve her issues with her stepmother? Is the painting really worth $20,000 or much more?  And does she  finally feel happiness and stability with Cody and their developing relationship? 

I really enjoyed this book, which gave me a peek into small town life. I also liked the fact that Emma becomes stronger and more confident in herself and overcoming obstacles in her life, while still helping others who need her. It's an inspiring book for anyone who is facing difficulties and not sure how she will work herself out of them!
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A busy story that hangs together well. There's a LOT going on here - the main character's grief, trying to overcome some poor choices in her past, her feelings of abandonment. Then there's the sale of the store and her efforts to buy it. And also the mom and her pre-teen son that she helps. And also the art piece. Oh - and the start of a romance. As I said, it's a lot. But it never felt overwhelming or overstuffed. It never felt like the author didn't have complete control over every thread of the story. I enjoyed watching things unfold for Emma and the end was satisfying.

I had no idea this was part of a series. My reading experience was not impacted by not having read the first two books in the series. Fans of the series should check this one out. Readers who enjoy contemporary fiction with hints of a romance should give this one a try.
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This was such a great book. Cynthia Ellingsen did a masterful job creating a mystery without any murders or violence. The story is intriguing with believable, likeable characters. Emma, the main character, is a nice person who feels the need to help others, often at her own detriment. But Miss Ellingsen keeps her from becoming cloyingly sweet. You understand Emma’s need to help others and her insecurities. The plot is believable, the twists and turns keep the story moving. And, I have to admit, I got a little teary at the end. I look forward to reading the rest of the Starlight Cove novels.

Thank you, Netgalley for the free e-copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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More Sweet Than Bittersweet. I fully admit that when I got this book, I didn't realize it was the third book in a series. And yet it doesn't really read like one, since it uses the shared world style of building a series - yes, some other characters have already had their tale told, but this book focuses on characters who haven't yet. And it does a really great job of showing a caring young woman scarred by events of the last 20 ish years trying to move forward and achieve her dreams... while finding some startling personal and municipal history along the way. Excellent Hallmark type book, and very much recommended.
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