A Bittersweet Surprise by Cynthia Ellingsen
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.