The dog days of summer are here, and while it may be too hot to cook, it's the perfect temperature to read books where baking is a component of the story.

"Bread Alone" by Judith Ryan Hendricks features a woman who has found herself moving from Los Angeles to Seattle after a divorce. Protagonist Wynter Morrison puts her life back together with the help of friends and the comfort and ritual of baking. Included are various recipes for breads, cakes and cookies as well as bread-baking tips. In the sequel, "The Baker's Apprentice," Hendricks continues her story of Wynter and her new mysterious man and his reluctance to reveal much about his past. Again, baking plays an important part in the storyline.

Seattle is once again the locale for Bharti Kirchner's "Pastries: A Novel of Desserts and Discoveries." This novel tells the story of Sunya Malhotra, the daughter of Indian immigrants, who owns and runs a successful bakery. She finds out a chain is supposed to move in down the street, her love interest has ended and her mother is meddling in her affairs, but worst of all, she feels she has lost her affinity for baking. She finally heads to Japan with the hopes of learning about herself, her past and a way to get her baking mojo back.

Beth Kendrick's "The Bake-Off" is the story of two sisters who reunite to win a bake-off contest. Brought together by their grandmother, who has decided the estrangement of the sisters needs to end, she shares with them her prize-winning recipe. Putting aside their differences, they vie to win the money the winning recipe will bring. Together, they find themselves aligned in a common goal as they unravel family secrets, discover old betrayals and find new romance in the pursuit of the grand prize.

"The Icing on the Cupcake" by Jennifer Ross is the story of Ansley Waller, who has just graduated from college and had her engagement canceled by her fiancé. Deciding to leave the past behind in Dallas and move to Manhattan to live with a widowed grandmother she's never met, Ansley is faced with the choice of getting a job or going home after she's arrived in the big city. Baking her way through her misery, she decides to open her own cupcake shop and learns not only how to bake but how to follow her own path to success.

Donna Kauffman is the author of the Cupcake Club Romances, which include "Sugar Rush," "Sweet Stuff," "Babycakes" and her newest, "Honey Pie." The books put together characters who want to open their hearts to love and romance and face challenges in their lives with levity and a sense of purpose. The author provides recipes in each of the books in the series, making them a delicious read.

Jeanne Ray is the mother of well-known writer Ann Patchett, and she did not begin writing until she was in her 60s, as she spent her days working as a nurse and her evenings writing. "Eat Cake" tells the story of Ruth, whose family life has undergone changes all around her, including her husband's job loss, her antagonistic divorced parents who have moved in due to extenuating circumstances, and a temperamental teenage daughter. She finds solace in her baking and firmly believes that it has literally saved her life. As Ruth says in the novel, "A slice of cake never made anyone fat. You don't eat the whole cake. You don't eat a cake every day of your life. You take the cake when it is offered because the cake is delicious. You have a slice of cake and what it reminds you of is some place that's safe, uncomplicated, without stress. A cake is a party, a birthday, a wedding. A cake is what is served on the happiest days of your life."

Summer will soon be over, so let us revel in the weather with a good book and a large slice of cake. Enjoy!

CHECK IT OUT is written by the staff of the Newport Beach Public Library. All titles may be reserved from home or office computers by accessing the catalog at http://www.newportbeachlibrary.org. For more information on the Central Library or any of the branches, please contact the Newport Beach Public Library at (949) 717-3800, option 2.