Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson
Publishing Date: 23rd September 2016
Series: Comfort Food Cafe #2
Source: Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!
Number of pages: 187
Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction
The brand new Christmas romance from best-selling author Debbie Johnson and the follow up to ‘Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe’.
The Comfort Food Cafe is perched on a windswept clifftop at what feels like the edge of the world, serving up the most delicious cream teas; beautifully baked breads, and carefully crafted cupcakes. For tourists and locals alike, the ramshackle cafe 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.
Christmas is coming earlier and earlier each year, at least bookish Christmas – “Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe” is already one of the few festive reads that I read in September. Not that I’m complaining – I love Christmas and I probably could read Noel – centred books all over the year. And especially if they are written by Debbie Johnson – she has really ricocheted herself to the top of my favourite authors list and I’m sure she’s going to stay there for a very long time, if not for ever.
I think I don’t have to emphasize that “Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe” is a return to our beloved Comfort Food Cafe, as the title says it all. However, this time, even though it is also return of some of the characters that I’ve learnt to love in the previous novel, this story is told by Becca, Laura’s sister. Becca seems much more disturbed and complicated than Laura but she has her reasons! She also hates Christmas, literally hates it, and we quickly learn why as the story begins with showing us a few of Becca and Laura’s Christmases, and those scenes were brilliant, they were like watching a kaleidoscope, and no matter what there was always a Christmas disaster with Becca.. I think she would be a great best friend of Scrooge. But now the biggest nightmare of Becca is coming true – she is going to spend family Christmas, together with Laura, her children and Matt, and the whole team from Comfort Food Cafe! Oh boy…
Why is Becca such a Christmas grouch? What has happened? Is she going to open to her family? Start to enjoy life more? Is the Comfort Food Cafe going to do its magic again? This all, and much, much more is waiting for you in this brilliant, warm, cosy and already festive story. What I like so much in Debbie Johnson’s books is that they so effortlessly combine fun and humour with more poignant, serious issues and I love the way she always deals with those issues, with a lot of understanding and without judging, letting the reader know all the circumstances and judge for themselves. Yes, there were moments that I felt desperate with Becca, she was not too easy – going, she was always kicking herself, and it seemed as if she didn’t want to change, at all, that she’s happy in her shell and I wanted her to stop being like this. She wasn’t moaning or wanted to burden us with her problems, she wanted to deal with them alone, but her being so miserable inside and only showing the world a different face was not good for her and I wanted her to go out of this dark and cold corner, and to fully live. Becca is this kind of person who’s initially not so easy to like but as the story went along she really grew on me, she got under my skin and at the end I was a putty in her hands. Debbie Johnson has made her character really complex and complicated and she brilliantly showed how difficult it is to break off with your old habits, how easy it is to stay like you are just because it’s more comfortable, and how much it costs – and I mean here emotions and feelings – to try to go out of your comfort zone, and this all made Becca only even more realistic and believable.
The story brings us back all the characters from the summer novel, introduces new of them, and focuses more on the characters that we got to know in summer and now have a chance to get to know much better, such like some sexy surfer Sam, mmmm. Sam was so, so funny, so laid – back and easy going, you know, he was the yin to Becca’s yang or whatever it is – I loved their banter and the way they were so honest with each other, they didn’t fake anything, they were genuine with their feelings.
It seems that Comfort Food Cafe is really a magic, perfect place to be when you have problems and I want to go and live there, and eat Laura’s brilliant food. When reading the story I just wanted to be a part of it, to join the gang and to forget about all my worries and sorrows. I think this story can be read as a stand – alone novel but I also think you’d miss out too much on the summer book, and on the whole Comfort Food Cafe charm. Immediately after starting reading this sequel I’ve felt at home, as if I was meeting with good, old friends. Yes, I’d love to hear much, much more from Laura and the gorgeous vet, as well as from her brilliant children, but I do appreciate the turn this story took, the depth and – shortly – I just get what the author wanted to do this time. The story brilliantly mixes fun and seriousness, and Debbie Johnson is truly a champion of writing catching one – liners and hilarious scenes, and you need to read the wedding or the visit at the shopping centre for yourself. Each character mentioned in this book, even so very background one, like for example Willow and her mum, had their place in this story and their presence adds tons of warmth. “Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe” is like a mug of Laura’s hot chocolate with marshmallows – warm, melting your heart and cheering. Highly recommended!