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Things are about to get sticky... I might as well permanently add the label "Ex" to my name. I'm an Ex-Mr. Universe. Ex-Mr. Olympus. An Ex-Hollywood Stuntman. But no one from my small hometown cares anything about that. They only care that I'm the ex-boyfriend to the beloved Mayor's daughter, Elaina Dyker. And now, ten years later, I'm back, helping my siblings run my mother Things are about to get sticky... I might as well permanently add the label "Ex" to my name. I'm an Ex-Mr. Universe. Ex-Mr. Olympus. An Ex-Hollywood Stuntman. But no one from my small hometown cares anything about that. They only care that I'm the ex-boyfriend to the beloved Mayor's daughter, Elaina Dyker. And now, ten years later, I'm back, helping my siblings run my mother's bakery while she takes on chemo. What should have been a routine cupcake delivery turns into utter chaos when the bachelorette party thinks I'm a stripper. And what's worse? Elaina is the maid of honor. But the meme about us sure went viral fast. My small hometown has become positively infested with tipsy bridesmaids looking for my erotic cupcakes. Now Hollywood's knocking again—and this time they want me and my ex, Mr. Beefcake and Ms. Prude, to star in a reality show. It could solve all my problems—except her.


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Things are about to get sticky... I might as well permanently add the label "Ex" to my name. I'm an Ex-Mr. Universe. Ex-Mr. Olympus. An Ex-Hollywood Stuntman. But no one from my small hometown cares anything about that. They only care that I'm the ex-boyfriend to the beloved Mayor's daughter, Elaina Dyker. And now, ten years later, I'm back, helping my siblings run my mother Things are about to get sticky... I might as well permanently add the label "Ex" to my name. I'm an Ex-Mr. Universe. Ex-Mr. Olympus. An Ex-Hollywood Stuntman. But no one from my small hometown cares anything about that. They only care that I'm the ex-boyfriend to the beloved Mayor's daughter, Elaina Dyker. And now, ten years later, I'm back, helping my siblings run my mother's bakery while she takes on chemo. What should have been a routine cupcake delivery turns into utter chaos when the bachelorette party thinks I'm a stripper. And what's worse? Elaina is the maid of honor. But the meme about us sure went viral fast. My small hometown has become positively infested with tipsy bridesmaids looking for my erotic cupcakes. Now Hollywood's knocking again—and this time they want me and my ex, Mr. Beefcake and Ms. Prude, to star in a reality show. It could solve all my problems—except her.

30 review for Beefcakes

  1. 4 out of 5

    Carol [Goodreads Addict]

    Beefcakes by Katana Collins is a stand alone rom-com which is part of the Maple Grove series. I was pretty sure going in from reading the blurb that I was going to really enjoy this book. But, I don’t think I was prepared to love it as much as I did. Because I did love it! Ten years ago when they were seniors in high school, Elaina (Lainey) Dyker and Neil Evans were in love. They had plans, futures all laid out as much as an eighteen year old could. But then Neil left. He just packed a bag and le Beefcakes by Katana Collins is a stand alone rom-com which is part of the Maple Grove series. I was pretty sure going in from reading the blurb that I was going to really enjoy this book. But, I don’t think I was prepared to love it as much as I did. Because I did love it! Ten years ago when they were seniors in high school, Elaina (Lainey) Dyker and Neil Evans were in love. They had plans, futures all laid out as much as an eighteen year old could. But then Neil left. He just packed a bag and left without saying good bye. Now, Lainey is again recovering from a broken heart. Her boyfriend cheated on her and left her right before Christmas. The only other man she had dated after Neil. In high school, Lainey was known as a party girl but now she is anything but. She is the town manager for Maple Grove, her father is the mayor. She’s all business, all the time. Neil loved physical fitness. He has held the title of Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympus. Then he became a Hollywood stuntman until he injured his shoulder. When Neil received the call that his mother back in Maple Grove was sick, he knew it was time to go home. Neil’s mom owned a small bakery in town so during her recuperation, Neil and his siblings took over. Neil loved to bake. He loved to incorporate his love of physical fitness and baking and created healthy cupcake options, options his mother would be able to eat while she was sick. But a cupcake delivery gone wrong to a bachelorette party, a party where the maid of honor was no other than the only girl he had ever loved, Lainey, reinvented their little bakery. What do you get when you combine a lot of muscles and delicious cupcakes? You get Beefcakes. All the attention Beefcakes is getting brings Hollywood calling right to their door in Maple Grove with a baking reality show. Only not only do they want Neil, they want to pair him up with his ex, Lainey. Is this a recipe for disaster? Or could it be a second chance to prove to Lainey that he can be the man she deserves? “On the outside, Neil and I didn’t look like an ideal couple. But for the first time in a decade, I truly wondered if maybe we could make a good team.” This book was so adorable. It was obvious these two were meant to be together. They both needed to win the competition and I loved watching them come together as a team, as a couple, learning to work together and to trust one another. But of course, there are going to be obstacles to overcome as they find their way. Ten years is a long time, there was a lot of hurt to make up for. Is it too much, or can they forgive the past, and find a future together? For more about this book and so many more, come and visit me at Carol's Crazy Bookish World. https://www.facebook.com/groups/Carol...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kate ✨ is a dreamer

    4 stars! Adult | Contemporary Romance | Second-Chance Romance | Hate-to-Love Romance | Foodie | Celebrity Character | Romantic Comedy | Small-town Romance 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 this review in any way. Ladies and gentlemen… this one was a real surprise to me. I loved it! I’d totally forgotten how much fun rom-coms are 🥰 I’ve been deep in the paranormal-shifter / urban fantasy 4 stars! Adult | Contemporary Romance | Second-Chance Romance | Hate-to-Love Romance | Foodie | Celebrity Character | Romantic Comedy | Small-town Romance 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 this review in any way. Ladies and gentlemen… this one was a real surprise to me. I loved it! I’d totally forgotten how much fun rom-coms are 🥰 I’ve been deep in the paranormal-shifter / urban fantasy world, which are great places to be, but it felt very refreshing to step back into my love of cozy romantic comedies! About ten years ago, Elaina “Lainey” Dyker and Neil Evans were high school sweethearts, until he abruptly left town the night before graduation, without saying goodbye. So years later, when ex-Mr. Universe (three years in a row!) and Ex-Hollywood Stuntman (after a rotator cuff injury) moves back home to help his mother’s bakery, Lainey isn’t too happy to see him. Or to know that he’s alive, to be quite honest. Neil’s mom has cancer and no longer able to run her cupcakery, so Neil and his brother take over. But when out delivering an order to a bachelorette party, thanks to too many devilishly-placed potholes, the cupcakes get ruined. But Neil’s brother Liam comes up with an idea – and that’s how the Beefcakes business was born. Two sexy, shirtless guys showed up to that bachelorette party, except instead of the beautifully decorated cupcakes they ordered, they got blank (amazing zero-sugar) protein cupcakes Neil’d had in his trunk, and ex-Mr. Universe (plus his hot brother) to show the bachelorettes how to decorate their own cupcake. The picture of shirtless Neil balancing a cupcake on his bicep went Facebook viral, starting up a caption war – because guess who was in the background of the picture (rightfully) glaring at Neil? Lainey! Turns out, it was her sister’s bachelorette party :) They both need money. Neil needs it to cover his mom’s medical debt and the cost of the upcoming surgery, and Lainey’s trying to make cash come out of nowhere to build a medical outreach center in the little town of Maple Grove, to avoid a Starbucks and Target coming in and taking business away from the Mom’n Pop stores that make Maple Grove special. I guess it’s good for them that a reality show, Bake It or Break It, offer them a spot on their show and a chance at the cash prize – a million dollars. The show puts ex’s together and has them complete baking challenges, and the Facebook caption war’d caught their attention. “I want you, Elaina. I want what we had in high school… only better. I want it all, the good, the bad, the mundane daily tasks and the adventures.” Neil was the star of this book for me. I was worried going in, because he sounded like a meathead with his Ex-Mr. Universe and Ex-biceps that. Turns out, that was something Neil was working through, people thinking he’s dumb because he has muscles, and I felt bad for my thoughtless assumption 🥺 He quickly won my heart because he was such a genuine, warm, gentle character. He’s sexy and he flirts and coaxes Lainey from her defensive barriers, but mostly he’s just a really great guy. I’ve read a few too many books lately where Mr. Tall Dark and Sexy mind as well be a sexy cardboard cutout with outrageous dirty talk… but that wasn’t Neil. He wore his heart on his sleeve and I couldn’t help but fall for the sweet guy. Lainey was a tougher nut to crack. She took awhile to win me over, because she had such a defensive wall up after Neil’s betrayal all those years ago and fresh after a breakup with her cheating ex-boyfriend of nine years. She had some hangups and was a bit of stuck-up, judge-y hard-ass, but as Neil wore her down and helped her have fun again, she dropped those barriers and I eventually enjoyed the warm, fun woman she was behind her guard. She was never obnoxious or annoying, but just kind of hard to warm up to. I wasn’t sure she deserved my beautiful Neil, but I got there 😊 It was such an adorable read, and I really loved them as a couple in the end. They both had to work through some things before they could fully embrace a relationship with the other, and watching them come together as a team and a couple was very rewarding as they learned to work together and trust again. They had lots of years of hurt to make up for, but they did it ✨ I definitely recommend this adorable small-town second-chance, hate-to-love foodie romance! Although be warned… all the yummy baking in this nearly sent me right to the store for a cupcake! Do yourself a favor, and have some based goods handy 😋 See Full Review here Thank you Social Butterfly PR for the review copy ✨ Check out the full review from my book blog, Cover to Cover Book Blog! Check out more foodie romance! Click the image to navigate to the book

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lori R.

    LOVED this one so much!! I never wanted to put it down. Neil, former Hollywood stunt man, former Mr. Universe, current Beefcake...has stolen my heart. And I don’t want it back. Lainey, recently burned by her ex of 9 years, current town manager of Maple Grove, the Mayor’s daughter, has high, concrete walls up around her heart. With good reason. Back in high school, Neil and Lainey had THEE BEST senior year as best friends and lovers with plans for the future. They hit it off in every way possible LOVED this one so much!! I never wanted to put it down. Neil, former Hollywood stunt man, former Mr. Universe, current Beefcake...has stolen my heart. And I don’t want it back. Lainey, recently burned by her ex of 9 years, current town manager of Maple Grove, the Mayor’s daughter, has high, concrete walls up around her heart. With good reason. Back in high school, Neil and Lainey had THEE BEST senior year as best friends and lovers with plans for the future. They hit it off in every way possible. But...Neil took off right before HS graduation without so much as a goodbye. So who can blame Lainey for holding a grudge. Fast forward ten years... Neil is back in town, helping at his mother’s bakery. A cupcake delivery gone very very wrong lands Neil face to face with Lainey at her sister’s bachelorette party. And guess what? That grudge? It’s still there and it’s as strong as ever. But the sparks! Lordy, the sparks. They are unavoidable and undeniable, they are present, and they are sizzling. The author made me feel those sparks. I loved these two together. She’s feisty, he’s persistent. She’s determined, so is he. She’s witty and snarky, he’s witty and snarky right back. To see them both working through their issues and insecurities was emotional and heartwarming. To see them visit the past, mend those wounds, and decide to move on and give each other another chance made my heart happy. This second chance romance filled my heart with all the warm fuzzies and gave my body all those delicious tingles. The serious and emotional scenes pulled at my heartstrings. The feel-good humor had me smiling often and the passion and love between Lainey and Neil was intoxicating, making me fall harder with each turn of the page. I can always count on this author for a story filled with so much passion and heart and all the feels I love. This one had it in spades. **Even though this is set in the small town of Maple Grove, it is not officially part of the Maple Grove series by this author.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jypsy

    Thank you Social Butterfly for a complimentary copy. I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own. Beefcakes By: Katana Collins *REVIEW* ☆☆☆☆ What do you get if you mix a hot guy with a bakery and delicious cupcakes? A delicious guy, obviously-just joking, but you do get Beefcakes. Neil is a former Mr. Universe, Stunt Man, etc. returning home to Maple Grove. Why? His mother has chemo, and help is needed at her bakery, thus Neil becomes a bakery employee. The worst part, how Thank you Social Butterfly for a complimentary copy. I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own. Beefcakes By: Katana Collins *REVIEW* ☆☆☆☆ What do you get if you mix a hot guy with a bakery and delicious cupcakes? A delicious guy, obviously-just joking, but you do get Beefcakes. Neil is a former Mr. Universe, Stunt Man, etc. returning home to Maple Grove. Why? His mother has chemo, and help is needed at her bakery, thus Neil becomes a bakery employee. The worst part, however, is seeing his ex young first love, Elaina, ten years after he left her. Awkward much? Elaina is a straight laced in the box woman who has been badly burned by men. Things get even worse when Neil, delivering cupcakes to a bridal party, is mistaken as the stripper, and Elaina is the maid of honor. Funny and humiliating make things interesting. Someone posted a video that goes viral, of course, and Hollywood comes calling with reality shows and money. I really love this story because it's just plain fun to read. It's a pick me up kind of story, and that's exactly what I wanted. Neil and Elaina are not over each other, but they have to figure this out for themselves. Both are wonderful characters with a genuine vibe about them, and this made them very relatable and real. This story is a charming romp down the road of reconciliation, and delight is on every page. Beefcakes is the perfect romcom for that time out from your kids and husband(really just a large child) that you likely need right about now. Don't forget your coffee!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Valeen Robertson (Live Thru Books Blog)

    Neil is coming back home to help care for his mother after her surgery, and to help his siblings with the family bakery. Upon delivery of an order, a sort of catastrophe-laden event, he runs into his ex best friend with benefits, Elaina, and she looks less than thrilled to see him. Can the charming ex Mr. Universe and former stunt man charm her into agreeing to be on a reality show about exes and baking? Or will he fall flat on his gorgeous face when her ice queen routine freezes him out? Thi Neil is coming back home to help care for his mother after her surgery, and to help his siblings with the family bakery. Upon delivery of an order, a sort of catastrophe-laden event, he runs into his ex best friend with benefits, Elaina, and she looks less than thrilled to see him. Can the charming ex Mr. Universe and former stunt man charm her into agreeing to be on a reality show about exes and baking? Or will he fall flat on his gorgeous face when her ice queen routine freezes him out? This is such an adorable story! Sweet, a little spicy and so much fun. Neil is quite possibly one of the sweetest bbfs to come down the turnpike in a long time, and Elaina is perfect for him. I'm not sure which story is next in the Maple Grove world, but I will definitely be reading it. ARC via Social Butterfly PR for an honest review. Review & Blog Tour: Live Through Books Blog. Blog | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sofia Lazaridou

    Beefcakes is listed as the fourth book in the Maple Grove series by Katana Collins and I had no clue about that info until after I finished the book. That's how stand-alone this book is. The only connection I saw is the brief mention of Kandi from Bewitching You who is one of Lainey's friends. Also, there is a connection with two other stand-alone books, one of them being Roleplay. If you haven't read the other books, you won't even realize that some of the characters have their own books and th Beefcakes is listed as the fourth book in the Maple Grove series by Katana Collins and I had no clue about that info until after I finished the book. That's how stand-alone this book is. The only connection I saw is the brief mention of Kandi from Bewitching You who is one of Lainey's friends. Also, there is a connection with two other stand-alone books, one of them being Roleplay. If you haven't read the other books, you won't even realize that some of the characters have their own books and that's what I call a stand-alone novel. I would like to add that I want Liam's book with a certain lady whose name I cannot reveal due to spoilers. Now that I think about it, we didn't see much of Lainey and Neil's friends, mostly their family and whoever was needed for the story to progress. I wasn't a big fan of Lainey in the beginning, I liked her somewhere in the middle, and I kinda disliked her again towards the end although I applauded her actions. I cannot point why exactly, but I ended up not liking her. I don't think that she and I would ever be friends. I liked Neil's character more, to be honest. I found his actions justified more than did Lainey's, especially when it came to what he did in the past, but I feel like both of them couldn't put themselves in the other's shoes and that made me think less of the romance aspect of the book. I liked seeing both main characters working and being passionate about something. The Beefcake situation was interesting and I thought that the book would be about that (I don't read a book's blurb before I read it). I found the pace of the book great and that the first half of the book was set up perfectly. I have to say that I feel a little bitter or should I say off about the way the events unfolded after the surprise Lainey got at the bakery. I felt like the friction was not needed considering that there was enough of that in the first half of the book. Since I mostly enjoyed the book, I would recommend it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nerdy Dirty & Flirty

    -Sara, 4 stars A beefcake and baked goods, sign me up! Beefcake, aka Neil, is a man of all trades including a stuntman. Check - Mr Universe. Double check - he has hung up his stunt shoes and put on an apron. After all this time he finds himself back in his home town helping his family with his mom's business. All should be good, shouldn’t it? Lainey is smart, sexy and funny but she is struggling to get over her recent breakup with her long term ex. She is the mayor's daughter so her life doesn’t go -Sara, 4 stars A beefcake and baked goods, sign me up! Beefcake, aka Neil, is a man of all trades including a stuntman. Check - Mr Universe. Double check - he has hung up his stunt shoes and put on an apron. After all this time he finds himself back in his home town helping his family with his mom's business. All should be good, shouldn’t it? Lainey is smart, sexy and funny but she is struggling to get over her recent breakup with her long term ex. She is the mayor's daughter so her life doesn’t go unnoticed. And now her ex from high school, who picked up and left without a word, is back..... What could this mean.

  8. 4 out of 5

    maggieandteddy

    Cute premise. I usually don't like reality/show biz centered books. This one started off with just regular people. Lainey is a little uptight and wound up most of the time. She She's been ticked off at Neil since he left town 10 years ago. There's a slow up in the middle. I do love how the guys run their bakery and their relationship with their mom. They're sweet sons. See what I did there? Baked goods? Sweet? Yes please. I liked that Lainey softened up over time. Neil grew into quite the hero. Th Cute premise. I usually don't like reality/show biz centered books. This one started off with just regular people. Lainey is a little uptight and wound up most of the time. She She's been ticked off at Neil since he left town 10 years ago. There's a slow up in the middle. I do love how the guys run their bakery and their relationship with their mom. They're sweet sons. See what I did there? Baked goods? Sweet? Yes please. I liked that Lainey softened up over time. Neil grew into quite the hero. There's cupcake recipes at the end. 3.5 stars

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ga Books LoverX

    Amid everything that is going on right now with COVID-19, a good laugh is definitely needed and this book delivers it. I thought this was funny and fun and a good story, it took me a little time to relate to the characters, but it was an entertaining and heartwarming romance that had a realness to it that is very relatable. All in all if you are looking for a second chance romance that is a must read for anyone that likes hunky guys (though they are more than just that) and cupcakes, you should r Amid everything that is going on right now with COVID-19, a good laugh is definitely needed and this book delivers it. I thought this was funny and fun and a good story, it took me a little time to relate to the characters, but it was an entertaining and heartwarming romance that had a realness to it that is very relatable. All in all if you are looking for a second chance romance that is a must read for anyone that likes hunky guys (though they are more than just that) and cupcakes, you should read this book that checks so many different boxes. I give it 4 outta 5 stars! PS: Thank you to Katana Collins and Give Me Books PR for allowing me an advanced copy of the book to read and review honestly.

  10. 5 out of 5

    A Book Lover's Emporium Book Blog

    This book was a refreshing change; the storyline was unique and kept me reading to see how it ended. The challenges were all too real and had me hoping for more. Neil is such a sweetheart, he really does wear his heart on his sleeve where Elaina is concerned and that made me swoon. I loved his personality and the relationship he has with his family. Elaina is such a stiff, stickler for control in her job and life that it’s hard to see her softening up but, once I got to know her, I loved her. She’ This book was a refreshing change; the storyline was unique and kept me reading to see how it ended. The challenges were all too real and had me hoping for more. Neil is such a sweetheart, he really does wear his heart on his sleeve where Elaina is concerned and that made me swoon. I loved his personality and the relationship he has with his family. Elaina is such a stiff, stickler for control in her job and life that it’s hard to see her softening up but, once I got to know her, I loved her. She’s been through too much for me to hold anything against her. She’s passionate about her town and her job and so kind hearted that I have a little girl crush too. I really enjoyed this different story and will be looking up more books by Katana Collins.

  11. 4 out of 5

    The Book Fairy Reviews

    Coming back home is hard, coming back when you have to face your family, the town and the girl you left behind. The girl that held his heart. We all have insecurities, even the beautiful. For Neil being in the spotlight was not the life he wanted, but it was the life that gave him a comfortable loving. Now going back means he can be with out being in the spotlight. Until he messes up a cupcake delivery and call for drastic measures. Lainey changed when her first love left. The first time she sees Coming back home is hard, coming back when you have to face your family, the town and the girl you left behind. The girl that held his heart. We all have insecurities, even the beautiful. For Neil being in the spotlight was not the life he wanted, but it was the life that gave him a comfortable loving. Now going back means he can be with out being in the spotlight. Until he messes up a cupcake delivery and call for drastic measures. Lainey changed when her first love left. The first time she sees him he is in his shirtless glory, not what she expected. I loved reading this book with its comedic twists and turns and yes the unique cupcakes. I was left with warmth in my heart and some fantastic recipes.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jenn (YeahOrNeighReviews)

    Beefcakes is the perfect fix for your sweet tooth! If you love The Bachelor and practically ANY baking competition, then you won't be able to get enough of this book. My cheeks were still sore the next day from laughing so much, and I honestly just want to watch a cake show and read the book all over again. A second chance romance with a clever twist, this is a book I promise you don't want to miss. I stayed up until nearly 4am to finish Beefcakes and don't regret my wake up call only three hour Beefcakes is the perfect fix for your sweet tooth! If you love The Bachelor and practically ANY baking competition, then you won't be able to get enough of this book. My cheeks were still sore the next day from laughing so much, and I honestly just want to watch a cake show and read the book all over again. A second chance romance with a clever twist, this is a book I promise you don't want to miss. I stayed up until nearly 4am to finish Beefcakes and don't regret my wake up call only three hours later, totally worth every moment. This is one romantic comedy I'll be adding to my yearly "read again" list! Blog review - https://yeahorneighreviews.blogspot.c...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Carol | tilthelastpage

    Beefcakes is the fourth installment and a feel-good rom-com addition to the Maple Groves series. It has a lighthearted and entertaining element that is unique and very unusual. The plot is wildly amusing. It is truly a breath of fresh air in the long list of small-town romances out there. We follow the story of two individuals who teamed up, despite their history together, in order to save a family's business and a town that is dear to them. Set in the quaint fictitious town of Maple Grove, Beef Beefcakes is the fourth installment and a feel-good rom-com addition to the Maple Groves series. It has a lighthearted and entertaining element that is unique and very unusual. The plot is wildly amusing. It is truly a breath of fresh air in the long list of small-town romances out there. We follow the story of two individuals who teamed up, despite their history together, in order to save a family's business and a town that is dear to them. Set in the quaint fictitious town of Maple Grove, Beefcakes will warm you up with its over-the-top banters, unruly set of characters, and flirtatious cheeky moments. Full review to come.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    Katana Collins' latest is Beefcakes, a second chance rom-com that I couldn't put down.  KC is a new to me author with a backlist I'll be picking up after reading Beefcakes.  How have I missed her books?  I absolutely loved Neil and Lainey.  I loved the chemistry, the banter, and the cupcakes.  I'm very much looking forward to catching up on the author's Maple Grove series.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cali Jewel

    Adored this fun, sexy and action packed journey filled with engaging charters, witty banter, heart racing twists, exciting passion and a heartwarming and hard won second chance at everything! Was a great read from beginning to end.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Treena

    Well, that was cute! It took me a little while to warm up to these MC’s but I grew to like them. I loved the fact that he’s the baker, not her.

  17. 5 out of 5

    April Symes

    Beefcakes by Katana Collins is book 4 of the Maple Grove series by Katana Collins. It's a standalone romcom read about 2nd chance romance between Neil Evans and Elaina (Lainey) Dyker who used to be high school sweethearts (first loves) 10 years ago until everything went wrong between them. Fast forward to now and we get Neil back in town, not expecting to see his ex Lainey. Their love story is what makes this story feel realistic and relatable. The plot is funny, heartwarming , sizzling and swee Beefcakes by Katana Collins is book 4 of the Maple Grove series by Katana Collins. It's a standalone romcom read about 2nd chance romance between Neil Evans and Elaina (Lainey) Dyker who used to be high school sweethearts (first loves) 10 years ago until everything went wrong between them. Fast forward to now and we get Neil back in town, not expecting to see his ex Lainey. Their love story is what makes this story feel realistic and relatable. The plot is funny, heartwarming , sizzling and sweet. Without giving really much away, the story deals with family dynamics, heartbreak, 2nd chance at first love, chemistry, passion, feels, love and whole lotta of cupcakes. My Rating: 4.5 stars *********

  18. 5 out of 5

    Amy Dickinson

    Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2 What do you get when you pair a former Mr. Universe/stuntman/baker and a current uptight, “colors within the lines” town manager together with a baking reality show about exes? You get Katana Collins’s romance, Beefcakes. While I am not the most prolific romance reader, I can tell you that this story read like a fresh take on second chance romance. From its first page to its last, you find yourself rooting for this couple to move beyond their past to find an exciting fu Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2 What do you get when you pair a former Mr. Universe/stuntman/baker and a current uptight, “colors within the lines” town manager together with a baking reality show about exes? You get Katana Collins’s romance, Beefcakes. While I am not the most prolific romance reader, I can tell you that this story read like a fresh take on second chance romance. From its first page to its last, you find yourself rooting for this couple to move beyond their past to find an exciting future together. What is here is a reminder that living an abundant life requires moving forward instead of always looking back. Why should you read this book? Neil is this anomaly of a hero. He’s an amalgamation of types. And I think this is Collins’s purpose. Throughout the story, Neil has to remind Elaina “Lainey” that she can be both intelligent and “buttoned-up” and also the carefree “party girl” of her youth. She can take chances and find freedom in losing her strict control. We see Collins crafting this lesson with Neil. He’s a former ex-Mr. Universe bodybuilder who moved into the life of a stuntman before he comes back to his hometown to help his mother’s bakery. He is also an amazing baker who crafts bakery items that are healthier, yet delicious. There is clearly a traditionally masculine side to Neil (we see this also evidenced in his possessiveness around Lainey), but there is also a more compassionate, feminine side to him. We find him worried over Lainey, even when he shows her his “cocky” side. Through his creation, Neil encompasses one of the truths of Collins’s Beefcakes: we can be more than one identity. We can be whomever we want to be. This is a profound message for her readers, an admonishment to be “more” than we allow for ourselves. This is a story of second chances that emphasizes the need to stay and work through problems. Neil and Lainey are high school best friends with benefits. As they prepare to graduate high school, they have made plans for their future; however, at the last minute, Neil leaves town without a “good-bye” to Lainey. For ten years, Lainey nurses a broken heart, even though she engages in a nine-year relationship with another man. However, no one ever really compares to Neil, yet he left her without ever looking back. Or so she thinks. Neil has always regretted leaving Lainey, but he made a choice and he lives with it until he returns home. It is then that the gravity of his interest in Lainey becomes apparent, and he wants to do everything to win her back. Unfortunately, Lainey struggles with trust, not just due to Neil’s swift departure, but for other reasons. This is the reason for her control. In order for Neil to win her over, he will need to remedy his tendency to run when problems arise. I think this lesson is a profound one for today’s romance. We see this plotline in romantic stories, but it really is something that seems prevalent in today’s relationships. Through Neil and Lainey’s reconciliation, Collins proposes that the time and energy necessary for the maintenance of relationships breeds great rewards. Staying power and facing troubles together is always better than running from problems. It’s an important admonishment that Collins develops beautifully through Neil and Lainey’s story. The contemporization of second chance romance by using a common media attribute: reality television. Collins’s use of a reality television baking show connects us to our own society where these shows are the “bread and butter” of their networks. As a plot device, it forces Neil and Elaina together, but it makes it easy for her readers to imagine. We can see the bachelor-esque beginning of this show as Neil’s exes compete against each other for the coveted spot in the baking competition. It is here where Neil and Elaina are reminded of the depth of their chemistry. It is also in those moments where the readers can enjoy the cattiness of his former ex. This adds some spice and tension to Neil and Lainey’s journey towards reconciliation. As Collins crafts the show in her story, we can see the equivalent of a Cupcake Wars-ish reality show as a means to fully unpack Neil and Lainey’s soulmate-ish chemistry and their inherent conflict. Attaching their journey with something we can “see” and understand from our own world makes this more distinct, more significant, as their happy ending becomes threatened. In my eyes, this was smart of Collins, setting her apart from most second chance romances. There are enough differences with Beefcakes from other second chance romances that it makes for an engaging read. I found myself falling into Neil and Elaina’s story and hoping for their reconciliation while laughing at Neil and his brother, Liam’s sudden social media celebrity, empathizing with Elaina’s trust issues, and applauding the beauty of Katana Collins’s epilogue. I signed up for an ARC for this book simply because I hadn’t read a story like it in terms of its characterization. It intrigued me, and I wanted to read these characters developed on the page. Katana Collins did not disappoint with Beefcakes. It was engaging and thoughtful and the type of second chance romance that makes you believe in happily-ever-afters for everyone. I am INDEED excited for any forthcoming stories in this series, maybe Liam’s story? Neil and Elaina in Beefcakes are an apt reminder that we must forgive and move forward to live a rich life without fear.

  19. 5 out of 5

    BookAddict

    This is a brilliant, delightfully unique premise for a book, and every maid of honor needs a Beefcakes to tap into for the bachelorette party! I fully expect they’ll be popping up across the country as a result of this book. Collins effortlessly reeled me in – hook, line, and sinker – with this phenomenal romantic comedy, and now I *have* to read all the books in the Maple Grove series! Also, I now have another fabulous author to follow. Neil Evans left town a week before his high school graduati This is a brilliant, delightfully unique premise for a book, and every maid of honor needs a Beefcakes to tap into for the bachelorette party! I fully expect they’ll be popping up across the country as a result of this book. Collins effortlessly reeled me in – hook, line, and sinker – with this phenomenal romantic comedy, and now I *have* to read all the books in the Maple Grove series! Also, I now have another fabulous author to follow. Neil Evans left town a week before his high school graduation without so much as a goodbye to anyone, including his high school sweetheart. Since then, he's made his mark in both the body-building world and as a stuntman, but he's grown weary of the Hollywood façade. His mother's health has been poor and now he's back in Maple Grove to try to help his brother save her bakery and figure out a way to pay her mountain of medical bills. What he didn’t expect was for a ruined cupcake delivery and some quick thinking at a bachelorette party to result in demands for his baked goods to sky rocket after a meme went viral. And he never expected for his high school sweetheart to be in attendance. Lainey Dykers went from nerdy girl to party girl in high school, and when the most popular guy noticed her it wasn’t long before they were crazy in love. She and Neil had so many plans and hopes and dreams, and all of them came crashing down around her when he left without saying goodbye. In the years since, Elaina has worked hard to reinvent herself as a responsible, organized, confident, capable woman and now acts as the town manager for Maple Grove. Although, she may have a little more work ahead of herself, with that little grudge and slight need for retribution when it comes to Neil now that he's back in town. I adore this story for so many reasons. But Neil's insecurity from all those years of people seeing nothing but his muscles, and Elaina's struggle to figure out how to embrace both versions of herself are what resonate most with me. And the author handles these issues with a deft hand, giving us just enough to truly empathize with the characters and become invested, but not so much that we get to the point of, “oh, just get over it already.” This story is so beautifully balanced, carefully crafted and flawlessly written that it reads itself. All I had to do was sit back, hand over my heart, (gleefully, I might add) and enjoy the show. Yes, there's romance and comedy, and Neil and Lainey's journey will keep you glued to the page, reading late into the night. I startled hubby's pet mouse back into its house with my barks of laughter, and the banter, the tension and the emotional ride are oh, so delicious. We also get a nice dose of steam, and some of the interactions are sweet enough to cause a tooth ache. But the heart? Oh, my soul, the heart in this book is amazing and unforgettable. Between Lainey and Neil's romance, their love for their family, and their love and commitment to their town – my heart will never be the same after reading this book. And yet, this book is about so much more. It's about finding your way, finding yourself, finding your path and embracing your future. About letting go of fear, old hurts and uncertainty, and being brave enough to take a chance that will change your life. I read a lot of romcoms, but this one is in a class of its own. Without even trying, Lainey and Neil's story gets a spot on my top five romcoms for the year. Do your heart and funny bone a favor and start reading this one right away!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rosie

    Beefcakes was my first book by Katana Collins, and it was such a sweet story! Second chance romances are the best, especially when hey are as well written as Beefcakes! Neil is a former Mr. Universe and retired stuntman who returns home to the town he grew up in to help out with his mum’s bakery, whilst she is going through chemo. He left suddenly just before high school graduation, leaving behind his family, friends and best friends with benefits, Lainey, who he hasn’t spoken to since. A couple o Beefcakes was my first book by Katana Collins, and it was such a sweet story! Second chance romances are the best, especially when hey are as well written as Beefcakes! Neil is a former Mr. Universe and retired stuntman who returns home to the town he grew up in to help out with his mum’s bakery, whilst she is going through chemo. He left suddenly just before high school graduation, leaving behind his family, friends and best friends with benefits, Lainey, who he hasn’t spoken to since. A couple of months after he returns, on a standard delivery of cupcakes to a bachelorette party, a slight accident means Neil and his brother Liam must act on the spot and come up with the genius idea of Beefcakes, a shirtless cupcake delivery service. The bachelorette party love it, all except for Lainey, who’s the maid of honor for her sister. Recently dumped by her ex of 9 years, the last thing Lainey wants is to see is Neil her first love, especially shirtless and being fawned over by the rest of the party. She is still hurt about how he left without saying goodbye, throwing their plans for the future away and their feelings as he left. Lainey has changed, not the party girl she once was, and is now the town manager, working hard to help her beloved hometown and doesn’t have time for Neil and his antics anymore. But after a photo of the bachelorette party goes viral, and with both of them in desperate need of cash for different reasons, when a baking dating show approaches them to be contestants, they must put their differences aside to be able to win over the nation and win the prize money. But the longer they spend together, baking, dating, living, they realise that the spark between them never left and the feelings are still there, if only they would let down their walls and trust each other again. Will they be able to push past their past hurt and build the future they always talked about together or will the cameras and pressure get too much for them? I adored both Lainey and Neil. They were perfect for each other, balanced each other out and brought out the sides of each other that they kept hidden. Both addressed the other’s insecurities and showed them that they could be whatever they wanted to be, and that it doesn’t matter what the outside world thinks, only what you and your inner circle who know you best. You can be whatever you want to be, you don’t have to be just serious or just fun, that’s a very clear message from this book. Beefcakes is the perfect second chance romance, it warmed my heart and I adored Neil and Lainey’s story. It was funny in places, serious in others and my heart ached at some parts. The chemistry was palpable between Neil and Lainey, I was rooting for them more and more with every page. The secondary characters balanced out the plot perfectly too, and I would love to read their story’s too, maybe Liam’s next? This certainly will not be my last book by Katana Collins, she writes the perfect romance with comedy, emotion and true feelings. My only question is, where can I order my own Beefcake? *I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.*

  21. 5 out of 5

    Laura Jones

    Beefcakes is a standalone second-chance romance that readers will gobble up in one sitting (much like Neil's signature cupcakes). It's got a little bit of everything - family drama, romance, humor, sibling relationships, reality TV baking shows, and small town charm. Elaina Dyker, also known as Lainey, is the town manager of Maple Grove, a small town in which her Daddy is the Mayor. She is a hard worker, determined and predictable. Her long-time boyfriend of 9 years cheated on her and left her, l Beefcakes is a standalone second-chance romance that readers will gobble up in one sitting (much like Neil's signature cupcakes). It's got a little bit of everything - family drama, romance, humor, sibling relationships, reality TV baking shows, and small town charm. Elaina Dyker, also known as Lainey, is the town manager of Maple Grove, a small town in which her Daddy is the Mayor. She is a hard worker, determined and predictable. Her long-time boyfriend of 9 years cheated on her and left her, leaving her bitter and not interested in opening herself up to love an inevitable heartache again. The one she will never forget, however, is Neil Evans. During their last year of high school, she and Neil were inseparable, sharing many firsts with each other and making plans for a future together. But, then Neil left without a word or a goodbye, breaking Lainey's heart. Elaina's current project is to save the old mill from becoming a shopping center complete with Target and Starbucks, and instead turn it into a healthcare and events center to save the local businesses (like Neil's bakery) from going under. The problem is: the town doesn't have enough money to purchase the property. How will she get that kind of money that fast? Neil, the former Mr. Universe and Hollywood stuntman, has recently moved back to Maple Grove to help his siblings run their mother's bakery while she goes through cancer treatments. In a cupcake delivery to a bachelorette party that went wrong, the beefy, muscular Evans brothers turn the unfortunate situation around, and in the process make a name for themselves as "Beefcakes," which goes viral and the bakery's business booms. The bachelorette party happened to be for Lainey's younger sister, Chloe, and ever since Neil laid eyes on Lainey again, he has been unable to get her off of his mind. Even after 10 years, he is certain she is the one for him. He just has to find a way to get past the walls she has put up and back into her broken heart. Meanwhile, the bakery is busy, but his family is in all sorts of debt from his mother's medical bills and the bills that will be coming for her upcoming surgeries. Neil needs to find a way to make a large sum of money quickly. Enter a new reality TV show called Bake it or Break it, which is the brain-child of some of Neil's Hollywood friends. They approach Neil and give him the option to be on the show, filmed right in Maple Grove. It's a baking competition where contestants work with an ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend, and, as such, things could get rather sticky! However, the winning team wins a million dollars to split. Neil can't turn down an opportunity like this to help his mom get out of debt. The only catch...the producers want Lainey to star in the show right along side him. And Lainey acts like he is a germ she wants to wash out of her life. How will he convince her to join him on the show and spend so much time with him? I guess you'll have to read it to find out! I loved this book. The story was unique and well-written in dual narrative between Neil and Lainey. The banter between characters was hilarious and the second change romance was extra sweet. There are even some Beefcakes cupcake recipes at the end of the book as an added bonus. Score! I highly recommend this book for romance fans! Thank you to Social Butterfly PR for providing me with an early review copy of this title.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Menotah (Canadian Girl Book Blog)

    Beefcakes is a second chance romantic comedy stand-alone novel. Neil returns home to help his family with the family bakery while his mother is battling cancer. When a cupcake delivery for a bachelorette party turns chaotic, Neil and his brother Liam decide to fly by the seat of their pants saying that they are testing a new option called Beefcakes. Things couldn't get worse except for when Neil sees his ex-girlfriend, Elaina, who is the maid of honor. When a photo from the party gets turned int Beefcakes is a second chance romantic comedy stand-alone novel. Neil returns home to help his family with the family bakery while his mother is battling cancer. When a cupcake delivery for a bachelorette party turns chaotic, Neil and his brother Liam decide to fly by the seat of their pants saying that they are testing a new option called Beefcakes. Things couldn't get worse except for when Neil sees his ex-girlfriend, Elaina, who is the maid of honor. When a photo from the party gets turned into a meme and goes viral, Elaina decides to take things out on Neil. When Hollywood comes knocking wanting both Neil and Elaina to star in a reality show, they both need to put their past behind them and work together to try and win. Beefcakes was labelled as a romantic comedy and it felt more like a contemporary romance which for me moved a little too slow and I had issues connecting with the characters making this a difficult read. The first half of the novel was a battle between Neil and Elaina and then the reality show brings them together for their second chance romance. This was my first novel by Katana Collins and unfortunately, her writing style is just not for me. *ARC was generously provided in exchange for my honest review*

  23. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    If you like second-chance romances you need to read this. This was sweet (no pun intended) without being over the top. The characters felt like real people with real relationship problems. They lived real lives with real problems. This was the perfect mixture of romance, comedy, and serious. I love it when a couple works through their issues and they actually talk about their problems instead of hiding behind lust and ignoring the bad stuff. In this book, there is a lot of baggage between main c If you like second-chance romances you need to read this. This was sweet (no pun intended) without being over the top. The characters felt like real people with real relationship problems. They lived real lives with real problems. This was the perfect mixture of romance, comedy, and serious. I love it when a couple works through their issues and they actually talk about their problems instead of hiding behind lust and ignoring the bad stuff. In this book, there is a lot of baggage between main characters Neil and Elaina. He broke her heart when he left, and if he has any chance of winning her back he has to earn her trust back. Elaina has been hurt far too many times in her life by people she cared for, and Neil was probably the worst. She isn't going to make it easy for him to waltz right back into town and win her back with his antics. I also love it when couples don't change for each other or settle to be something they are not. Neil loves being a stuntman and loves to bake. When he was injured on set, his career in the movies was over so he came home to help out with the family cupcake business. Elaina is the town manager, and she's very serious and business oriented. The Elaina from high school that Neil used to know was fun and a bit of a party girl. He wants to know where she went and inspire Elaina to let "Lainey" out because you can be responsible and serious and still have fun sometimes. All the while Neil is trying to help his mom's struggling business while she is going through cancer treatments and racking up debt. When Elaina and Neil are thrown together in a crazy TV show that could potentially solve both of their financial issues, they realize that they still have feelings for each other. They both have issues they will have to face, but the only way they will win is to face them together. I love to bake, and I need the recipes for Neil's low carb, protein cupcakes in my life. All of his recipes sound amazing! Did I mention there are a couple of recipes at the end of the book? As someone who eats a low carb diet, I'm excited to try them and see how they work out. The author has even thought through substitutions for sugar alternatives and flour alternatives which makes me a very happy girl! This is part of the Maple Grove series, but it is 100% standalone. This is my first book from Katana Collins and I didn't find myself lost or confused by not having read the other books in the series. I actually had no idea there were more books until I got to the end of this book and there were links to more books which I will of course be reading in the future. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Buttercup's Book Blog

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sassy Southern

    Neil Evans has come back to town in order help his brother, Liam, run the bakery their mom started while she deals with trying to battle cancer. Neil is a former Mr. Universe and stuntman who still has a knack for baking cupcakes and desperately wants to get the bakery out of debt. When Liam and Neil’s delivery of cupcakes to a bridal party ends up in a bunch of ruined cupcakes the boys attempt to salvage the cupcakes and it ends up turning their bakery around. Yet it is also at the expense of Ne Neil Evans has come back to town in order help his brother, Liam, run the bakery their mom started while she deals with trying to battle cancer. Neil is a former Mr. Universe and stuntman who still has a knack for baking cupcakes and desperately wants to get the bakery out of debt. When Liam and Neil’s delivery of cupcakes to a bridal party ends up in a bunch of ruined cupcakes the boys attempt to salvage the cupcakes and it ends up turning their bakery around. Yet it is also at the expense of Neil’s high school girlfriend and town manager, Elaina Dyker. When Neil and Elaina are approached about being on a reality show together that would solve both of their financial problems can they put aside their differences and work together or will secrets once again ruin everything? This was such a great book and I am so happy that I decided to take a chance on it! I admired Neil for coming home and helping the bakery, even though he partly did so because he was injured. I loved when Neil and Liam arrived at the party and what Liam decided to do in order to salvage the party. I laughed so hard and the author did such an amazing job coming up with so many different things and more importantly, recipes! So there was so obvious tension right off the bat between Neil and Elaina and it is gradually through the book that you learn more and more about what happened and all of the different repercussions. I liked that Elaina was headstrong and determined to get certain things done for her town. I really admired her for that and loved the vision she saw for her town and the old mill but she was stuck financially. I was definitely worried about her battles with Hardin Montgomery There was so much sexual tension between Elaina and Neil right from the beginning the book and there was so many great moments, including an attempt to close down the bakery! The show was so awesome and I knew there would be some great twists and turns coming up for Elaina and Neil. I also wondered how many “ghosts” would reappear and I was not disappointed!! I was so happy that Liam was able to help out in a certain circumstance. My heart broke for Neil’s family with the news he got about his mom and how they were worried about how they were going to afford everything. I understood why Neil was making a certain decision but at the same time I knew it could also backfire on him. I loved the wedding cake scene but the stuff after completely surprised me and made me super sad. I was shocked at how long this went on for after but I was happy at how both Neil and Elaina continued to do things for the other one. The very end was awesome and I can’t wait to read more from this author! By Rebecca

  25. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    "Beefcakes" by Katana Collins was a funny, sweet, and charming story featuring relatable, well-developed characters that I absolutely adored. The central relationship between main characters Neil Evans and Elaina "Laney" Dyker was a beautifully developed combination of enemies-to-lovers and second chance romance that gave me all the feels. Neil and Laney were previously involved in high school but had a falling out when Neil left town shortly before their graduation without saying goodbye to Lan "Beefcakes" by Katana Collins was a funny, sweet, and charming story featuring relatable, well-developed characters that I absolutely adored. The central relationship between main characters Neil Evans and Elaina "Laney" Dyker was a beautifully developed combination of enemies-to-lovers and second chance romance that gave me all the feels. Neil and Laney were previously involved in high school but had a falling out when Neil left town shortly before their graduation without saying goodbye to Laney. When he returned home ten years later following his mother's breast cancer diagnosis, they seemed destined to remain enemies, but after a photo of them at Laney's sister's bachelorette party went viral, they were forced to become uneasy allies in a bid to rehabilitate their images and win a million dollars on reality TV. This reluctant partnership soon gave way to friendship and eventually something deeper as Laney and Neil came to realize that they were meant to be together all along. Both Laney and Neil were very likeable characters and I found it easy to relate to each of them in different ways. I couldn't help empathizing with Neil and his family in particular because I know exactly how tough (and expensive!) breast cancer treatment can be, having gone through it myself over the past year. In addition to his mother's illness, Neil was dealing with his own potentially career-ending injury, a cross-country move back to his hometown, and trying to save a debt-ridden family business, all while fighting to be taken seriously as more than just a good-looking guy. In truth, Neil was a lot smarter than most people gave him credit for being, not to mention a genuinely nice, caring person who just wanted to do what was best for those he loved. Like Neil, Laney had come a long way since high school and took great pains to overcome her party girl past in order to be taken seriously as the Maple Grove town manager. She was also dealing with some trust issues in the wake of a brutal breakup with her boyfriend of 9 years, as well as lingering resentment over the way Neil left town without saying goodbye years earlier. As a result, Neil and Laney had a lot of issues to work through before they were able to repair their relationship, but forcing them to team up for the reality show was a really fun way to bring them together so that they had no choice but to do so. As a bonus, it led to quite a lot of laughs along the way. In addition to Neil and Laney, I enjoyed getting to know their siblings in this story, and it would be great to read stories about each of them in the future. In particular, it seemed as if there could be a romance brewing between Laney's sister Chloe and Neil's brother Liam, which could be very interesting indeed! "Beefcakes" was the first book I've read by Katana Collins, but I am certain that it will not be the last. *ARC provided by the author via Social Butterfly PR. All opinions expressed are my own.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Thanks to Katana Collins and Social Butterfly PR for the ARC copy! As my first Katana Collins book, I’d like to take a minute to talk about how fantastic it is! Her writing style, her humour, her character building and her mind, honestly, I was blown away by this book. It was funny and witty and smart and it was also incredibly sexy and drool-worthy - not just because of the beefcake, but because of all those damn cupcakes! This book is all kinds of amazing. It’s got family dynamics, it’s got sec Thanks to Katana Collins and Social Butterfly PR for the ARC copy! As my first Katana Collins book, I’d like to take a minute to talk about how fantastic it is! Her writing style, her humour, her character building and her mind, honestly, I was blown away by this book. It was funny and witty and smart and it was also incredibly sexy and drool-worthy - not just because of the beefcake, but because of all those damn cupcakes! This book is all kinds of amazing. It’s got family dynamics, it’s got second chance at first love, it’s got heartbreak, it’s got sex appeal and like I said before, it’s got a whole lot of cupcakes. Elaina aka Lainey is truly my hero. She’s a businesswoman with a take no shit personality and she’s driven and ambitious and she’s not going to let anyone stop her. Not even the return of her one true love. Even though seeing her ex again makes her want to do all kinds of things, she stands her ground. She tells him off every time he uses a nickname she’s trying to outgrow and she doesn’t fall for his charming act, at least not at first. Her focus is on the betterment of the town and she wants their charming little hometown to not fall apart under the weight of all these builders coming in and tearing down what makes their town so special. And then we have Neil. Former Mr. Universe. All-around stud. And maker of healthy, yet delicious cupcakes. And accidentally the face of the new business he and his brother have embarked on - Beefcakes. What started as an accident at Lainey’s sister’s bachelorette party turned into a lucrative business that now Neil can’t quit. Why? Because the money helps pay off their family debts and keep their mother’s medical bills paid for. Like Lainey, he’s a tough one to break apart and he knows what he wants and he knows that he has to work twice as hard to get what he wants. Like Lainey, he also wants to save Maple Grove from being taken over by those who don't care about the town and he will do whatever it takes. From the witty banter, to the scowling and the judgement and the sanitation department citation and everything in between, Lainey and Neil just drive each other nuts. But the love they’ve had for each other hasn’t vanished. That much is clear in the little things they do to poke and prod at each other. Neil wants a second chance, Lainey is still recovering from Neil leaving her and then coming back and her boyfriend of 9 years leaving her and she’s not ready. Their history and their relationship is so damn beautiful. You’re sucked into their world of drama and memories and all that makes them such a good couple. And then there’s all the supporting characters and their relationships with the leads. And then the reality show that makes and breaks them and then remakes them. But through it all, these two leads are just so damn good. They’re supportive of each other and their love for each other is still so evident and beautiful. I didn’t even realise it was a part of a series till I was halfway through the book, but you can totally read it as a standalone and not be missing out on anything. But if you’re like me, you’re definitely going to get your hands on the rest of the series, because I am now officially a Katana Collins fan and that’s never going to change.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Carey S.

    4.5 stars Neil Evans and Elaina (Lainey) Dyker were high school sweethearts. After a disturbing confrontation with a teacher, Neil skips out on life in Maple Grove and a future with Lainey, by leaving in the early morning hours to start fresh. It isn’t the smartest decision, because it leaves Lainey with a boatload of uncertainty about why she isn’t ‘enough.’ Fast forward ten years later, and her boyfriend has just left her because once again, she isn’t ‘enough,’ leaving Lainey with some deep-sea 4.5 stars Neil Evans and Elaina (Lainey) Dyker were high school sweethearts. After a disturbing confrontation with a teacher, Neil skips out on life in Maple Grove and a future with Lainey, by leaving in the early morning hours to start fresh. It isn’t the smartest decision, because it leaves Lainey with a boatload of uncertainty about why she isn’t ‘enough.’ Fast forward ten years later, and her boyfriend has just left her because once again, she isn’t ‘enough,’ leaving Lainey with some deep-seated trust issues. Neil and Lainey finally meet again after Lainey hires Neil’s family bakery to make cupcakes for her little sister’s bachelorette party. Unfortunately, the cupcakes get destroyed on the way to the party, and Neil and his brother have to salvage the situation somehow. On the fly, they create Beefcakes—a PG-rated somewhat-sexy service for dessert deliveries catering to upcoming brides. There is more to this book than it seems at first glance. There are several storylines that keep the action flowing in this story. Namely, Neil and his family are trying to save the family bakery; Lainey and Neil have some unfinished business that needs resolving; two of Neil’s friends are now successful directors, and they want Neil to be in their latest TV project; Lainey (as town manager) is trying to repurpose an abandoned building to benefit the region; and there are some people who hope to sabotage anything and anyone they can. Because of the various storylines, the reader stays engaged and invested in the outcome. There are some wonderful supporting characters in this story as well; these people add heart and warmth to the story, and even some awkward moments and laughter. The main characters are flawed, and they sometimes behave in immature ways, but there is a lot of love and support for each of these protagonists. They share a history and they share some heartache, but ultimately they both bring out the best in the other. Trust is a big issue for Lainey especially, but it is understandable with her history. And Neil has some issues with being seen as all brawn and no brain. Both characters grow stronger as the story deepens. Nevertheless, they figure it out in the end and this story concludes delightfully.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Debby (Alwaysbooking)

    This book had some sass, romance, comedy, and a whole lot of steam. These two characters had so much emotional baggage from their past I wasn’t sure they would get through it. They also had a ton of baggage from past jobs/relationships that each other didn’t know about. I really did like Neil as a character, he played off being the hunk of the town well. It showed a different side to being just a pretty face from a male’s perspective. You could tell it really bothered him that everyone thought he This book had some sass, romance, comedy, and a whole lot of steam. These two characters had so much emotional baggage from their past I wasn’t sure they would get through it. They also had a ton of baggage from past jobs/relationships that each other didn’t know about. I really did like Neil as a character, he played off being the hunk of the town well. It showed a different side to being just a pretty face from a male’s perspective. You could tell it really bothered him that everyone thought he didn’t have a brain behind all the brawn. Honestly half the book I forgot he was that big unless someone mentioned it. The fact that he made specialty cupcakes/cakes that people who had dietary restrictions could eat was unbelievably sweet. We have a bakery close by that does that and I take my son there because he also has restrictions and I could easily picture the customers faces lighting up when they realize they can eat the cupcakes. I’m getting off track, but Neil is a really great character his so sweet to his family and friends and even really nice to Elaina. Screw ups are bound to happen of course otherwise there wouldn’t be character growth. Elaina was like a frost queen to begin with I couldn’t really pin her down. I understand that she had been hurt by not only Neil but an ex-boyfriend. However, at some points she almost felt a little to juvenile, then she started to open, and I really started to like her. I liked seeing her come out of her shell during these challenges, not only was she a tough businesswoman for the town she was a compassionate one. I enjoyed seeing her interactions with both her family and his. I wish she wouldn’t of been so opinionated about bachelorettes and strippers though those opinions were a little harsh and uncalled for. I wish we would’ve gotten more scenes with Elaina and her sister that could’ve been a bond more explored. Overall this was a really good book, I can’t wait to try out some of the recipes in the back because the book definitely made me hungry. Thank you to Katana Collins, and Socialbutterlfypr for allowing me to review this book in lieu of my honest review. find more reviews at alwaysbooking.wordpress.com

  29. 5 out of 5

    JoAnna G

    This is book four in the Maple Grove series. I have not ever read this author before so I haven't read this series but this can be read as a standalone. I loved this book. I read it in one go. I lost a tiny bit of sleep over it and it was so worth it. The blurb captured me and I just had to read. I had real laugh out loud moments and there were some serious moments as well. Neil comes home after an injury doing his stunt work. He is popular and used to being in the spotlight. He is funny, has mus This is book four in the Maple Grove series. I have not ever read this author before so I haven't read this series but this can be read as a standalone. I loved this book. I read it in one go. I lost a tiny bit of sleep over it and it was so worth it. The blurb captured me and I just had to read. I had real laugh out loud moments and there were some serious moments as well. Neil comes home after an injury doing his stunt work. He is popular and used to being in the spotlight. He is funny, has muscles for a day, loves to bake, and is here to help his mom save her bakery. Neil does everything with his mom's health at the forefront of his mind. Elaina “Lainey” works for the mayor and grants permits and must follow the health code. She used to be young and carefree and lived for having fun., When Neil left, that piece of Lainey left as well. Sher is now grown-up and follows all the rules. Lainey has some trust issues as well and I get why. Neil did a number on her and so did her ex. When a case of mistaken identity and a flub up with cupcakes happen they are in for some fun times. Gosh, Neil was so fun to read. He lived and loved giving Lainey a bad time. He pushes her buttons at every turn. Just when I think she may have the upper hand he turns the tables. I loved Liam as well. Their family comes together to help out in the bakery their mom Linda opens after she gets ill. I liked the concept of what the men wanted to bring in more business and more business they do being in. Then the next thing you know they are thrust into a reality tv. This book was fun and I liked reading about the friendship that forms, well reforms after Neil comes back home. Lainey has been brooding for the last ten years about Neil leaving and no one knows the real truth other than his mom. This book made me hungry. I mean all this cupcake talk and holy wow it sounds fabulous. I like how the tables were turned and the bakers were men instead of women. Again, this book was easy to read and so much fun. The banter is great and so are all family and friendships. I look forward to more.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Just Love books

    The last thing former stuntman Neil expected was to be back in his hometown of Maple Grove, covered in cupcake frosting at the bachelorette 3that his high school girlfriend Elaina was hosting for her baby sister. •• "He was sex on a stick … no , not a stick… he was much too muscular to be compared to anything like a stick." When a meme of shirtless Neil balancing a cupcake on his bicep goes viral, not only does it bring an influx of new customers to his mothers small bakery but it also brings in an The last thing former stuntman Neil expected was to be back in his hometown of Maple Grove, covered in cupcake frosting at the bachelorette 3that his high school girlfriend Elaina was hosting for her baby sister. •• "He was sex on a stick … no , not a stick… he was much too muscular to be compared to anything like a stick." When a meme of shirtless Neil balancing a cupcake on his bicep goes viral, not only does it bring an influx of new customers to his mothers small bakery but it also brings in an offer to star in a reality bake off show. This show could be the answer to all his family’s financial problems, not only keeping the business afloat but also help pay for his mums medical Bill’s. The catch however is that the show producers want Neil to do it with Lainey. •• Not quite over the way things ended between her and Neil, Lainey is less than thrilled to see him back in town, add in the backlash she has received from the meme, its easy to see that she would not be keen to do the show. However her need for the extra cash to help preserve her beloved Maple Groves small town charm is enough to convince her to do the bachelor-cake-off show. The pair complete against other couples in quirky challenges to win the affection of the nation and win the show, all while realizing they still have hot chemistry. “I’ve spent ten years missing you. Ten years of dating women and comparing the time spent with them to our year together… and they always fell short. I’m done with that. I want you, Elaina. I want what we had in high school… only better . I want it all, the good, the bad, the mundane daily tasks, and the adventures.” •• I loved Beefcakes! This was such a delight to read, both Lainey and Neil were great characters with a fiery connection that was sure to reignite. This second chance romance hits all the spots, it was funny, swoony and mushy awhile hitting some sensitive topics. “I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life… I cannot wait to be Mrs. Beefcake.” •• This was my first book by Collins but it definitely won’t be my last. I can not wait to return to Maple Grove hopefully this time for Liams story.

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