Book Review: Sunshine at the Comfort Food Café by Debbie Johnson

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The Blurb:

Perched on a windswept cliff on the stunning Dorset coast at what feels like the edge of the world, the café and its warm-hearted community are a haven for lost souls who happen to wander by with a heavy heart and a story to tell.

Serving up the most delicious cream teas; beautifully baked breads, and carefully crafted cupcakes, there’s nothing a cup of tea and a delicious treat won’t fix. For tourists and locals alike, the ramshackle café overlooking the beach is a beacon of laughter, companionship, and security – a place like no other; a place that offers friendship as a daily special, and where a hearty welcome is always on the menu.

So make yourself at home, catch up on the gossip with old friends, meet new ones and fall in love at the Comfort Food Café.

Will be released in paperback and ebook 8th March 2018 by Harper Collins   

 

My Thoughts:

Introducing the 4th in the series based in Budbury, all the previous books have been firm favourites of mine because of the fabulous cast of characters and uplifting stories, but you don’t have to have read them to enjoy this book as it works perfectly well as a standalone novel; helpfully there is a clever trick in the book that recaps this and introduces all the characters well.

In a nutshell Debbie Johnson delivers everything you’d want in a contemporary romance, every time.

What works exceptional well with this series is the loving community centred around the seaside café on the hill; within this exists friendships that span multiple generations and though different, each character cherishes the café and the respect and support the community in there gives. There is a true emotional connection with each and every character.

This book it is the turn of Willow, a waitress at the café who also runs her own business and is sole carer for her Mum who has dementia. Willow has always been a favourite of mine in the books so for her to finally have her own book is exciting. She’s intelligent, warm-natured, sharp and dances to her own beat, yet in this book you get to explore more sides of Willow, her vulnerability and self-reliance. These last two characteristics get truly tested by the arrival of Tom Mulligan, the new owner of Briarwood.

Now, there’s a part of me that naturally rolls my eyes at the “arrival of a dark handsome stranger” trope but Johnson’s writing and the quirky ways she introduces him in to the fold means I can just about forgive this. Tom is delightful, he isn’t cocky, he’s introvert and a geek but he’s confident and unafraid to pit his wits against Willow and join her in her zombie apocalypse alter-reality. Their shared history and vulnerability is endearing, and the chemistry woven between them is electric. Tom and Willow’s childhood experiences are certainly different, but both have cause to be cautious and seem to have become used to coping on their own; this for me was an interesting aspect of the plot. Until now Willow’s family has been her Mum and the inhabitants of the café, now there are more people introduced to help and support her, but this book explores how challenging letting go some of that control can be. For me it was an honest and heart-warming look at the realities of being a carer and of dementia. It wasn’t romanticised or treated as a plot line only convenient for empathy. The true, tough, complex, unpredictable and inescapable nature of being a carer to someone you love was covered very well; compassionate, raw, genuine and written with soul.

There isn’t much cake and coffee featured in this book (boo!) however with the current snow we are having that was probably for the best before I started craving treacle tart (that never ends well… oooh tart and custard…) ahem, anyway, the runaway stars of the show for me were the dogs; Rick Grimes and Bella Swan (yes!), I don’t even think I need to say any more than that, they are (as all dogs are) fabulous.

I am hoping to God that by the time this book is published in a week this UK freeze has thawed and we have some resemblance of “sunshine, daffodils and bare feet on grass” Spring time, however you may want to preorder this as a literary back-up plan.

This advanced copy was received via Netgalley and reviewed in my own words using my own opinions of the book.

Bee Rating: 4 out of 5 bees

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7 thoughts on “Book Review: Sunshine at the Comfort Food Café by Debbie Johnson

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