In Molly Harper’s latest novel, Gimme Some Sugar, Lucy Brewer finds herself looking for a fresh start. She decides to open a bakery and enlists the help of her childhood friend Duffy. Little does she know, he’s been sweet on her for years. To celebrate the book’s release, Harper paired some of her personal favorite love stories with desserts. After all, what goes better with a good book than something sweet?
Helena Hunting’s sweetly irreverent and often vulgar love letter to both professional hockey players and women with no poise (no way, no how) is best enjoyed with a dessert of “monstrous” proportions. While she may enjoy a fairy-tale attraction with the Prince of the Rink, Violet is an everywoman who is both adorably flawed and approachable, and I loved every minute with her. While Alex may seem like a brainless hockey beefcake on the surface, he’s really just a loveable goofus, which endeared him to me as one my favorite contemporary heroes.
Like the story of the Giambelli family, tiramisu has a lot of layers. Of all of Nora Roberts’ books, The Villa is my favorite, not just for the strong, capable female characters of all ages, but because you get so many love stories packed into one book. There’s science, intrigue, and the kind of good old-fashioned “gotcha” business tactics that I loved on my mom’s primetime soaps growing up. But at the heart, it’s the story of a family who sticks together and loves each other, even when the world beats them up a bit. And Pilar, a character who might normally be overlooked in a romance, receives her happy ending. Since she’s the creator of the story’s tiramisu, that seems very fitting.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Earl Grey tea cakes
Pride and Prejudice is my all-time favorite book, and the mother of all romantic comedies, so of course I had to include it on this list. Sometimes, you just need to feel fancy, and tea cakes and Jane Austen both take us back to a time before social media and dating apps when you had to actually interact with someone face-to-face for hours to determine whether you were compatible. No flattering selfie angles. No quizzes or matchmaking matrices. And sometimes, even then, it could go horribly wrong, but at least you could feel like you made an honest effort. Elizabeth’s dry wit and occasional overreactions to social stimuli echo deep within my own character. And who hasn’t wanted Colin Firth to stare intently at them from across a crowded room? If he offered me tea cakes, I would probably just drool a bunch and fall over.
Hot chocolate cake in a mug
I haven’t quite mastered making cakes in mugs. It seems like sorcery involving a microwave, which is why it fits so well with The Night Circus. Erin Morgenstern’s modern-ish fairy tale proves what excellent expository skills can do for a story with lush descriptions and magic that makes you want to crawl through the page and follow the Le Cirque des Rêves forever. The magic-that-is-posing-as-illusion is so delicate and colorful that you’re almost afraid to look away from the book, which is also how I happen to feel about my microwave. There was a popcorn incident. That’s all I’m saying.
Strawberry crinkle cookies
My husband makes these cookies every Christmas. While everybody else loves them, to me they always look like brains. Warm Bodies sort of blew my mind the first time I read it, because who would ever think to set a Romeo and Juliet story from a zombie’s point of view? But it works, thanks to Isaac Marion’s deft and careful handling of R’s outlook on the world and his need to connect with others. It taught me so much about turning reader expectations and worldbuilding on their ears and yet, it is still a sweet, memorable romantic tale with a relatively happy ending—which is unexpected considering it’s a zombie version of Shakespeare’s most tragic play. I still give my strawberry crinkle cookies to my kids, though. Shudder.
Molly Harper is the author of two popular series of paranormal romance, the Half-Moon Hollow series and the Naked Werewolf series. She also writes the Bluegrass ebook series of contemporary romance. A former humor columnist and newspaper reporter, she lives in Michigan with her family, where she is currently working on the next Southern Eclectic novel.