I received this book for free from the Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Sugar and Ice by Aven Ellis
Also by this author: Connectivity, Waiting For Prince Harry, Chronicles of a Lincoln Park Fashionista, Survivng the Rachel
Series: Rinkside in the Rockies #1
Also in this series: Hold the Lift, Reality Blurred, Outscored, A French Connection
Published by RJM Publishing on 28th December 2016
Genres: Chicklit, Humour, Love & Romance, Sport
Source: from the Author
Amazon Kindle, Audible
Josephine Rossi has recovered from a broken heart, but has vowed that she’s all about the desserts now as a recipe tester for Bake It! Magazine. Cheesecake never breaks your heart. Unless it cracks on the top, but still, it tastes amazing if you bake it just right. She knows what to do in the kitchen as far as making luscious desserts. Men? Apparently she’s not so good at figuring them out, so she refuses to bother. Josephine knows it is safer to stay in the kitchen than to take another chance with her heart.
Denver Mountain Lions forward Cade Callahan is passionate about hockey, but is also about finding love. He thought he had it once, but a disastrous romance last holiday season has him keeping his heart in check. While he’s fearless on the ice, he’s guarded with his heart. Cade is determined history won’t repeat itself again. He won’t let his guard down until he’s certain he’s met The One.
However, Cupid’s arrow might just strike when these two least expect it. When an oven goes out, and a cheesecake for testing has to be baked, and Cade just happens to live in the same building with a working oven…Well, things other than cheesecake might just heat up in the kitchen. Can these two passionate people learn to trust their hearts again? Can love override fear for Josephine and Cade? And will they find the combination of sugar and ice is the sweetest one of all?
Thank you to Aven Ellis for letting me be a part of the Beta Reading for this book. I adore Aven’s writing and it’s so much fun to be there right from the beginning, to see her ideas turn into such wonderful stories.
This is the first full length book in this series. Hold the Lift was the previous novella which follows Sierra and Jude. and it follows JoJo and Cade. JoJo is Sierra’s flat mate and Cade coincidentally is Jude’s. While they have briefly met they do not really know each other. When JoJo’s oven breaks just as she needs to put some very important cheesecakes in Cade is her only hope to get them baked.
I’m going to say now that this book should come with a warning that reads “Buy with Cheesecake”. During the few days that I spent reading this I think I consumed at least 3 individual sized cheesecakes but if I wasn’t on a diet it would have been 3 large ones.
JoJo or Josephine, is a recipe taster for Bake it! magazine but she wants to do much more than just tasting. She has many ideas for future articles but her boss doesn’t think she can make it.
Cade is extremely passionate about hockey but he wants a girl that sees him for more than just the game. After last years relationship disaster he’s looking for someone who’s real.
I adored this book because it’s fun. JoJo and Cade’s brewing relationship is full of teasing and banter which makes the book as light an airy as a sponge but hidden inside are some deep and real issues that we can all relate to. Aven’s writing gives you the perfect mix of these two elements.
I have been with Aven since her first book Connectivity and it has been an honour to see book after book as she has grown. How she has improved and excelled her self with each new book. I honestly cannot wait to see what she brings for us next.
Today’s Purpose and Passion Statement: I, Josephine Camilla Rossi, will make the creamiest, most luxurious, cannoli cheesecake whipped up using only the finest ingredients. My work will be driven by my passion and love for baking, as well as by my nonna’s guiding hand. My purpose is to wow my hard-to-impress boss.
If all goes as planned, this cheesecake will be the key to new opportunities in the future.
I stare at today’s statement, which I have printed out and pinned to my vision board in the kitchen.
My cheesecake will be lighter and fluffier than Nonna’s original recipe, thanks to my homemade ricotta. My batter will have a hint of amaretto and Madagascar bourbon vanilla.
Each bite will have the taste of Guittard semisweet chocolate and the brightness of orange peel.
When your fork hits the bottom, you’ll reach a pistachio crust that will bring the classic cannoli flavors together. The top will be covered with a luscious layer of piped whipped cream and adorned with three perfect mini cannoli pastries, artfully arranged in the center and sprinkled with candied orange peel.
It will be show-stopping perfection, in appearance and taste.
I’m determined that this cheesecake, the first cake I ever ate in my grandmother’s kitchen, the cake that changed my life and fueled my passion for baking when I was five years old, will finally get the attention of Ms. Angelique Whitmire-Hox, my editor at Bake It! magazine . I work in recipe testing for the magazine, but I have my eye on a development project. And I’m hoping this cheesecake will prove I’m ready for that task.
Of course, I need to get to work right away if I’m going to have a cheesecake to present to her first thing on Monday morning, which happens to be, oh, tomorrow.
I take one last look at my vision board, studying the items I’ve carefully pinned to it. There’s a photo of my Nonna, who introduced me to baking when I was a child with a version of the cheesecake I’m baking tonight. There’s another photo, this one of Julia Child, whose books I devoured as a teenager, trying to cram all of her culinary wisdom into my brain. And there are magazine clippings of recipe ideas and cards with positive messages and inspirational quotes.
Since my career is everything to me now, I will achieve my dreams by visualizing my success.
Okay. Time to get going. I head down the hall and enter my room. I have the apartment to myself today, as my roommate and best friend, Sierra Crawford, is away with her boyfriend Jude this weekend.
I slide open my closet door and grab my favorite thing to bake in: my white and navy striped T-shirt dress. I remove my jeans and tank top and tug the comfortable cotton dress over my body and then step into my navy, slip-on Converse sneakers.
I move to the back of my bedroom door, where my vintage 40’s apron is hanging, and lift it off the hook. The worn checkered fabric has yellow pears and grape clusters with ruffle detailing.
I love it. This apron was given to my nonna by the Rossi family and eventually passed down to me. It’s been in the family since World War II.
I slip the fabric over my head and take a moment to let its history wash over me. All the meals lovingly prepared while wearing this apron. The good times and bad. The long forgotten fights and nights full of heart-warming laughter. The perfect pies, the second-servings, and the inevitable burnt batches. Every moment lived when a Rossi woman donned this apron, I can feel in my soul.
I never bake at home without it.
I move over to my dresser. My long hair needs to be pulled up for baking, so I work the dark brown strands into my signature braids and pile them up on top of my head. Once I have my hair up, I reach for a purple headscarf that coordinates with the grapes on my apron and twist it into a cute headband, which I secure around the front of my hair.
I consider my reflection in the mirror. I love how unique my eyes are, such a dark brown they appear almost black. They stand out against the olive tone of my skin. I hated them as a little girl, along with my above average height, but I have come to appreciate both traits.
My eyes move down the image of me appearing in the mirror, and I frown. My passion for baking combined with being dumped by the love of my life nine months ago has led to a net gain of ten pounds. The weight has settled around my hips and can no longer be denied.
But fall is here. It’s a new season. And I will no longer shovel cheesecake in my mouth to try to forget Marco. I’ve learned you cannot eat away your feelings. Trust me, I’ve tried.
In fact, I’m over men. I’m so clueless at picking them that I can’t be trusted. Why else would I have chosen a cheater who couldn’t stay faithful the second I moved to Denver?
Or is it dumb Josephine?
Marco IS dumb.
And a liar.
AND A BIG FAT CHEATER.
So what if I’m ten pounds heavier? The extra weight can serve as man repellent for all I care. My favorite J Brand jeans no longer fit and that might need to be addressed, but it can wait until tomorrow.
I clear my throat and head back toward the kitchen. Giving up men has had a silver lining.
I’ve refocused myself. Instead of thinking about stupid liars and cheats, I’ve shifted my attention to my baking career.
I enter the tiny galley kitchen and begin preparing. I pick up my phone and swipe to my playlist, letting Hailee Steinfeld’s “Starving” fill the air around me. Ha! Music to make a cheesecake by if I ever heard it, I think. Except I’m not starving for a man’s attention.
A slice of cannoli cheesecake, on the other hand? Yes, please.
I set the oven to the appropriate temperature and retrieve the necessary ingredients. I take the crust I prepared this morning out of the fridge and place the pans on the counter. I made enough for two cheesecakes so I can pick the perfect one for Miss “I’m Not Impressed, Josephine.” Because of her, I’ve learned to always have a backup.
Quickly, I fall into in the zone.
I make the filling, tasting as I go. I blend. I grate. I fold. I take a moment to savor the scents in the air, from the fresh orange rind to the magnificent bourbon vanilla.
Being a professional baker has given me an acute sense of smell, elevating my ability to detect subtleties. I find I can no longer wear perfume or scented deodorant while I work because it interferes with my ability to smell and, therefore, properly blend. Being able to experience the full spectrum of these wonderful ingredients is pure bliss.
I dip a spoon into the bowl and sample the batter. Success. I nailed it!
If only Nonna was in Denver with me instead of back home in Chicago. I’ve taken her recipe to the next level, and I wish she could have a taste.
I pour the mixture into the pistachio crusts then begin preparing a water bath so the cheesecakes don’t crack while baking. I fill a bright red, retro tea kettle, another Nonna hand-me-down, with water and place it on the range, and turn the burner on. I place each cheesecake in a pan and fill each pan up the side with hot water.
Now it’s time to get these gorgeous babies into the oven.
I open the oven door, expecting to feel the usual rush of escaping heat, but the inside is ice cold. “What?” I ask aloud to the empty kitchen in disbelief.
I’m sure I turned it on before I got started.
I check the settings. Yes. It’s on, set to 350F.
Realization sets in.
The oven is dead.
“No,” I exclaim, shaking my head. “No, no, no!”
I slam the door shut and consider my options. My apartment complex is terrible at keeping up with maintenance. Knowing them, they won’t send someone to fix it until Wednesday. And they definitely won’t consider this an emergency.
Oh, but it is. It’s is a total emergency.
This is a complicated cheesecake to make, and I used expensive ingredients. I can’t let this go unbaked. Not now. Not when I’m desperate to show Miss “I’m Not Impressed, Josephine” my work.
I must figure this out.
I begin pacing as I think. Too bad the guy next door is a complete jerk who blares death metal all day. I’ve already complained about his music, so he would never let me use his oven.
There’s a married couple across the hall, but I don’t know them well enough to say, “Hey! If you let me use your oven, I’ll give you a cheesecake. You like cannoli, right? Mind if I come in and hang out for an hour?”
Gah. Gah. Gah.
Then I remember something.
He plays professional hockey for the Denver Mountain Lions and just returned from the UK
for another season. He is away at the Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs with Sierra for a few days before training camp, but his roommate and teammate, Cade Callahan, has also just returned. And as luck has it, they live on the sixth floor.
I’ve been to their apartment before and met Cade twice, but both times he was watching TV
with a baseball hat pulled down low. So while I’m not a complete stranger to him, I wouldn’t say we are friends.
Cade would probably let me borrow his oven.
Wow. I can be so resourceful when I’m faced with tossing a cheesecake.
I grab my keys and fly out the door, quickly locking it behind me before running to the elevator. I punch the button for their floor and say a prayer to Julia Child—because she would totally understand my predicament—that Cade Callahan is home.
And not using his oven.
The doors chime and open to Jude and Cade’s floor. I sprint down the long hall to their unit and punch the doorbell.
Jude’s dog begins barking loudly, but I hear no sign of Cade inside.
All right, I can’t expect Cade to answer in 2.5 seconds.
I try to be patient, but instead, I ring the bell a few more times like an annoying kid.
Ding ding ding!
Bark bark bark!
“Cade?” I yell over the sound of Jude’s dog, Leia. “It’s Sierra’s roommate, Josephine! I have an emergency and I need your help!”
“Coming,” Cade yells back. “Just a second.”
“Thank God,” I whisper. I can feel the use of his oven is within my grasp. I’ll bake my beautiful cheesecakes and all will go according to today’s Purpose and Passion plan.
Leia continues barking as I hear new noise on the other side of the door. Finally, the door is unlocked, and Cade pulls it open.
My mouth hits the floor.
Because Cade is standing in front of me in nothing but a white bath towel, one tied dangerously low beneath the hot V-shape that tapers down from his waist. Water beads drip down his tanned, muscular skin and—oh, my God, what is that sexy Asian lettering tattooed up the side of his ribcage?
I tear my gaze away from his body and to his eyes.
They are a gorgeous jade color I’ve never seen before.
“Huh?” I say absently as I move from his eyes to the super hot stubble shading his jawline.
Cade takes a moment to brush back his wet hair with one hand.
Is it hot in the hallway? I’m suddenly really freaking hot. I tug at the neckline of my apron for a bit of relief.
“I think you said you had an emergency,” he says slowly, moving his hand to the knot of his towel and holding it in place, “So, how can I help you, Josephine?”
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: