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Genre: Adult | Contemporary Romance | Friends-to-Lovers
Series: Donner Bakery #2
My other reviews: Baking Me Crazy (#1)
My Rating: 3.5 stars!
Release Date: October 29th, 2019
Source: SmartyPants Romance
Description: It’s hard to get revenge without getting a rap sheet. After Tempest Cassidy walks in on her husband banging her high school nemesis, her whole world gets turned upside down. She goes from being known as the Duchess of Muffins to the town crazy. Her new MO: revenge.
Eventually, Tempest grows weary being arrested. Yet what choice does she have? If she’s not angry, then she’s simply . . . sad. Just as she decides to get her life back on track, in walks Cage Erickson, the new bouncer at the local strip club. He’s scary-handsome and the polar opposite of her ex. She’s attracted to him, but she’s not looking for a rebound. He’s attracted to her, but he’s not looking for a serious relationship. So, they agree to be friends. But when lines get blurred in the friend zone, will they both get burned? Or will it be a TKO? ‘Stud Muffin’ is a full-length contemporary romantic comedy, can be read as a standalone, and is book #2 in the Donner Bakery series, Green Valley World, Penny Reid Book Universe.
Disclaimer: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, but it does not influence my opinion of the book nor the contents of this review in any way.
Let me start by saying Penny Reid is one of my favorite authors. Now after reading that statement, you may be asking me, “Why the heck are you talking about the lovely and wonderful Ms. Reid when this is not her book?” To that I would say, you are correct! But you are also wrong. Ms. Reid an author and the founder of SmartyPants Romance, which is a kind of small publishing venture that she’s started up. Basically, other authors write extensions to her stories! No, that’s not right. Other authors write their own stories, just set in the Pennyverse, in the world she’s created and with character’s she’s written about as side characters. That makes more sense, right?
In the other SmartyPants Romance books, Ms. Reid’s characters were a great touch of nostalgic window dressing. They weren’t main characters or even ultra-important side characters. For instance, in Stud Muffin, the Donner Bakery is owned by Jennifer Donner-Winston, now, a former main character in one of Ms. Reid’s books!
Stud Muffin was another happy surprise, luckily for me 😊 Stud Muffin follows Tempest Cassidy, also known as the Duchess of Muffins, after she walks in on her husband of eight years cheating on her (and they’d be dating for four years before that). Worse, it’s been happening off and on since before they decided to get married. So she plays the scorned woman act well, and her life turns into quite the rap sheet after each of her crazy stunts land her jail. Eventually, Tempest gets tired of being arrested, once the divorce is finalized, and goes out for a congratulatory drink as a last hurrah to herself, where she meets Cage Erickson, new in town.
In a short time, Cage became my best friend. He was understanding and supportive when everyone else in my life was judging me. He got me, made me stronger, and helped me be a better version of myself. He’s funny, smart, strong … so strong, yet sensitive when he needs to be. It’s all such a heady combination. Everything I wasn’t looking for, but needed.
Cage moved to Green Valley, Tennessee to take a friend on the offer of a job after a career-ending injury, no longer able to fight professionally. At a loss, he packs up his life and moves, and isn’t in town long before he meets a fiesta red-head with a smoldering temper curling behind her eyes. But, neither looking for anything serious, they agree to be friends and for Cage to give Tempest some boxing classes, to help her manage her anger and take it out on something (or somebody) safe.
This is the perfect fun romp of a book, a great distractor and involves many of my favorite tropes – namely, the friends-to-lovers trope, which was so entertaining to watch in this one. The angst-y-ness, the decision, the almost-kisses and running away… so good. Then there’s the mentor/mentee trope, which admittedly I didn’t think we got enough of in this one. He was her boxing instructor, and when it’s a class of two… I’m just saying, there were loads of opportunities there that could have been further manipulated. But the few glimpses we got were definitely enjoyable during those scenes, and I totally get where they were coming from.
My weekly boxing class is my weekly emotional outlet, as was it for Tempest. There were even times where, when she was stressed, so go somewhere to be alone and practice some of the punches: jab, cross, uppercut; jab, cross, uppercut, to calm herself down.
Perhaps my favorite part of this book, unexpectedly, was the baking. Tempest is very inspired by her moods when she bakes, and names her muffins after the songs that reflect her feelings and emotions that morning. Let’s just say that when there was trouble in paradise, the bakery got several hilarious batches and Jennifer, the bakery owner, had to step in and end the depressing (but still delicious) muffin choices.
“I Fall to Pieces?” Jennifer asks, walking into the kitchen with the Muffin of the Day message board in her hand. “I thought we were past this.”
If there was anything I had to complain about, it would be the small-town aspect to this book. Don’t get me wrong, it was there. The rampant gossip and running-into-everybody-all-the-time and the familiar faces… very much a small town. But there was a nasty edge to a lot of it. There were several times I wanted to slap Tempest’s mom and sister-in-law for their behavior towards her and their hope that she and Asher (the ex-husband) would get back together. Like, hello?! Asher was a piece of shit, nobody needs to be hoping for a reconciliation there. Please stop pushing. I get that meddlesome-parents are part of that small-town, everyone’s-family vibe, but there were times I think it went a bit too far and a bit too crazy.
But overall, Stud Muffin is super enjoyable. I’m absolutely ravenous for one of her muffins, and thoroughly enjoyed Tempests’ and Cage’s courtship, even if the climax of the story was a bit soft-spoken. Read my review of (Book 1 | Book 3)
Thank you SmartyPants Romance for the title, of course, and to Social Butterfly PR for the work you do 😄
Other reads you may enjoy…
Have you read any SmartyPants Romance books? What are some of your favorite friends-to-lovers romances? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!