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The Icing on the Cupcake: A Novel [Paperback]

Jennifer Ross
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 6 2010
In this delectable novel—complete with recipes—Jennifer Ross frosts a sweet story of a young woman fulfilling her dreams, one delicious cupcake at a time.
In Ansley Waller’s world of Southern belles and gentlemen, getting a diamond ring isn’t just important—it’s the ultimate goal. So when her fiancé, Parish, unceremoniously kicks her to the curb and cancels their upcoming wedding, Ansley is so ashamed that she decides to leave Dallas and make a fresh start. In a surprise move, she heads to New York City to live with her recently widowed grandmother, Vivian, whom she’s never met. In turn, Vivian gives Ansley a no-nonsense ultimatum: Rather than wallow in misery, either get a job or go home. 

The Waller women have a tradition of baking their way out of sorrow. So Ansley mixes batch after batch of creative cupcakes—Black Bottom Heartache, Moving Blues Banana Caramel, Tres Leches Made Small. Before long, she’s opening up her own cupcake shop and even trying her hand at dating. But the ways of Manhattan’s eligible bachelors are altogether different from their Southern counterparts, and Ansley’s nearly fail-safe tactics fall flat. And worse, someone’s got a half-baked scheme to sabotage Ansley’s new life. It’ll take a cup of courage and a dash of Southern charm, plus a few secret ingredients, if Ansley hopes to pull off her recipe for success.

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Product Details

Product Description


"Striking the perfect balance between tart wit and sweet romance, Ross spoons up a thoughtful blend of chick lit and women’s fiction, complete with a tempting assortment of cupcake recipes, the icing on this irresistible culinary literary creation."—Booklist

About the Author

Jennifer Ross is a former Wall Street Journal and Dallas Morning News reporter, and the co-founder of the movie production company Brick House. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, children, and her two Papillions, Navette and Ruby. 

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A 'sweet' little read May 28 2010
By Luanne Ollivier #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
I definitely have a 'thing' for covers and The Icing on the Cupcake by Jenifer Ross decidedly caught my eye. Yummmmm - cupcakes.

Ansley Waller is a Southern belle. Newly graduated, she has accomplished what she has been aiming for her entire life - she's engaged. With that goal achieved, she lets her hair down and relaxes the perfect girl facade she has created. Her fiance Parish finally sees what he suspected and dumps her. To escape that humiliation, Ansley heads to New York City to live with the grandmother she's never met.

Baking cupcakes has always been Ansley's way of coping. That coping skill takes her farther than she could have imagined in New York. Ansley's imaginative, innovative cupcake recipes are scattered throughout the book. (I didn't count-but there must be close to twenty) Cleverly titled, they include such offerings as Black Bottom Heartache, First Blush of Crush and many more.

Ross paints a clear picture of a nasty, unlikeable Ansley. It was appealing to watch her change and grow as the book progresses. There is an unexplained event that accounts for Vivian being absent from Ansley and her mother Hattie's lives. The truth is tantalizingly revealed - much of it through the family recipe book that has been handed down over generations.

The characters are engaging, but I never really felt connected to any of them. Ansley does grow and change. In the beginning, it all seems to be to prove something to everyone else, not for herself. The whole idea of moving was to 'save face' and "show those sons of bitches that you have something better in store", not to be a better person. Parish seems a decent person in the beginning, calling Ansley out for her behaviour, but accepting it from someone else later on.
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By Lydia - Novel Escapes TOP 500 REVIEWER
Although I had reservations when I started this book with not being sure about the character, I was pleasantly surprised with this chick lit novel as the story unfolded. This was a great single girl tale that was easy to read and full of delicious sounding cupcake recipes that were spread throughout the book after each section.

After Ansley was publicly dumped by her fiancé, she flees to New York to live with her grandmother who she has never met. She handles her heartache and disappointment by baking cupcakes and when her grandmother gives her an ultimatum to get a job or get out, she makes a bold move in an attempt to transform her life.

Ansley's transformation was interesting, especially as I didn't find her character likeable at first and this lead to a few times where I wasn't quite convinced of its believability. I was content in the end though. There were also a few moments I was unsure of how the grandmother was written and if she would have thought the things she did, in the way she did, but these were also fleeting. These were my only two concerns about this lovely story.

I thought the strained family relationships and the cupcake recipes sprinkled throughout brought a new dimension to the single girl starting over story line and loved the combination of baking and family history. The story of the grandmother kept me intrigued as did finding out if Ansley could make it all work.

Pick up this lovely book if you're looking for a light easy read with a great starting-over theme, not to mention want to bake some of the fabulous recipes - I haven't yet, but they sound scrumptious and their names are great: Black Bottom Heartache, Green with Envy Cupcakes, and my personal favourite I'm dying to try, S'more Cupcakes just to mention a few!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Delicious! May 7 2010
By BookChick TOP 500 REVIEWER
Southern belle Ansley Waller has it all. A recent college grad, she's engaged to Parish, a man who will ensure her financial security and is gorgeous to boot. Ansley's busy planning her wedding, and mentally naming the children who will no doubt be a product of their union when Parish calls off the wedding and everything falls apart. Determined to leave Dallas with her head held high, Ansley makes contact with her estranged grandmother, Vivian, recently widowed and living in New York. Vivian permits Ansley to come out to stay, but provides her with an ultimatum-get a job within 8 weeks, or return to Dallas.

Ansley comes from a family who bakes when times are tough, so upon her arrival in New York, Ansley begins baking up a storm. While helping to correct some tax problems brought on by Vivian's late husband, and getting adjusted to a New York that is very different from Dallas, will Ansley be able to get a job and retain her dignity?

This was a cute coming-of-age story. The Ansley that we meet at the beginning of the book (over-confident and often mean) is very different from the Ansley that we are left with at the end. Throughout the book Ansley learns that being nasty does not necessarily pay, and that in fact it can have some dire consequences. The sub-plots throughout- Ansley's grandmother Vivian must come to terms with the fact that she abandoned her daughter at a young age, Vivian gets involved in a romance with an unlikely candidate- serve only to enhance the main story. I liked that the ending was not necessarily what I expected it to be. I'm not going to give it away here, but what I thought was going to happen was not what happened, which was a pleasant surprise.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.2 out of 5 stars  36 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Icing really is the best part July 23 2010
By Sheila A. Dechantal - Published on
I really enjoyed the baking connecting to family in this book. The family cook book referred to in the book was started in 1853. The ancestor, Marille, who created the book filled it with 200 pages for family to add recipes. To do this there were rules:

1. The book was to be passed from mother to the daughter who cooked the most. I f there were no daughteres than the granddaughters
2. Three people must agree a recipe is fit to be in the book, usually a grandmother, mother, and daughter were the voting parties. if the daughter was too young, the cook waited until she was old enough to vote. If there was no daughter, another female relative could be substituted.
3. Never let anyone borrow the book.

This I really liked as well as the cupcake recipes that sprinkle throughout the pages with names that fit with what was happening in the book.

The story line itself wasn't a great fit for me. While Ansley does eventually turn into a likable character, things happen in the book that are kind of odd and hard to follow. While she is mean in the opening of the book, she moves and is never mean again throughout the rest of the read. The ending left me with many questions. I don't want to go into great explanation as I have seen many people have really enjoyed this book. For me, the recipes made the book one I will turn to again. I wished I would have had time to whip up a batch of a couple that really caught my eye, but another time.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How Sweet it is! April 11 2010
By Liz Fenton - Published on
Ansley Waller just had a really bad night. Dumped by her fiancé and humiliated in from of her sorority sisters, she decides to head to New York and move in with her wealthy grandmother Vivian, who's been estranged from the family since she abandoned Ansley's mother at the tender age of five. But regardless of her mother's opposition, Ansley needs a place to lick her wounds and determines that now is as good a time as ever to reconcile with a grandmother she never knew. Both apprehensive, the two women begin to bond over their shared love for baking. But Vivian's keeping some secrets of her own while dealing with an IRS investigation into her late husband's investments that could cost her everything.

When Vivian insists that Ansley get a job or be sent back home with her tail between her legs, she decides to play to her strengths and open her own cupcake shop. Determined to prove she can make it on her own, Ansley, using recipes from a book that's been passed down for generations in their family discovers that it just may hold the key to the secrets of Vivian's past.

THE ICING ON THE CUPCAKE is a charming story, thick with Texas charm and baking anecdotes. Ross does a beautiful job of developing her characters and creating suspense surrounding the mystery of how any mother could leave their five-year-old child. You'll root for Ansley as she struggles to figure out what to do with her life now that becoming a privileged housewife is not an option any longer and your mouth will water as she stress-bakes her way through her troubles. A lovely novel with a decadent recipe at the end of each chapter, I have a feeling you'll find THE ICING ON THE CUPCAKE as sweet as I did.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Avid Chicklit Reader April 27 2010
By Ruth Tyler - Published on
I am mother of two who works full-time. Other than the twenty minutes before I drop off, I rarely get to read. With this book, my twenty minutes turned into an hour. I plowed through the book in a few days. It was a wonderful, uplifting, fast read. Now, if only we could get a sequel, in which Ansley finds true love in NYC.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Recipes are the Only Redeeming Quality June 7 2010
By lizreadslots - Published on
This was the unanimous choice for our Book Club, and we chose it knowing that it was a "fluffy" summer read. What a waste of paper! If Jennifer Ross wanted to write a cupcake recipe book, why didn't she do that and spare us the agony of reading about unsympathetic characters whose turn arounds are wholly unbelievable? She was obviously influenced by Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate, but she has none of Esquivel's talent with words, and her story is so "pat" that you just can't buy it. Case in point: Ansley's fiancé dumps her because she's mean, only to get engaged two months later to Ansley's sorority sister, who is certifiably psychotic and travels half way across the country to "off" her supposed rival! The man is smart enough to realize he doesn't want to spend the rest of his life with a witch, but idiotic enough to stay with and defend a pyschopath?!?!?!?!? WTF? The recipes are the only redeeming feature. Borrow a friend's copy, select a few cupcakes that sound interesting, and then spend your time baking a batch or two. Whatever you do, don't waste your hard-earned money on this POS excuse for a book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The ending falls flat Aug. 24 2011
By C. Neblett - Published on
I picked this book up looking for a light, quick, chick-lit read with the added bonus of cupcake recipes. I expected it to be fairly predictable, but enjoyable, and it started it out that way- the beautiful, bitchy girl who gets her heart broken, but takes a chance to make a new life for herself, grow-up, and solve a family mystery to boot.
Overall it disappointed. Did the story play out the way I expected? Yes and no- those things happened, but HOW they happened was where it lost me. Ansley makes a such a sudden character change it is a bit jarring. After a lifetime of cutting people down, being mean and making cruel comments if other women gained weight, two months later, after gaining 10lb (or so) post break-up, she is sitting in a restaurant, patting her belly, feeling "sexy". (This is not a comment on hating weight gain, or only loving yourself and others if you are super thin- just a comment on how unrealistic it seemed for HER character). Opening a business without telling anyone and doing it as quickly, easily, etc. also produced some eye rolls. This also applies to the reunion and resolution between the grandmother and the mother. A lifetime of emotional pain and abandonment is wrapped up quickly and as neatly as can be. Does reading chick lit require some suspension of disbelief? You bet, but if it is too much, it takes you out of the story.
Which takes me to the ending- Really? It felt like the author was going along in one direction, suffered a head injury and swapped the ending out at the last minute. Not only is it SO ridiculous and maddening, but it also feels like it just- ended. Unsatisfying.
The cupcake recipes and baking tips were awesome though! Looking forward to trying at least one!
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