• Author Jenny Colgan
  • Release Date June 27, 2017
  • Publisher William Morrow
  • ISBN/ASIN 978-0-06-266297-2
  • Our Rating
  • Reviewed by Lil

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Our Review

Flora MacKenzie left Mure, a small Scottish island, in order to carve an exciting life for herself in London. Opportunities and anonymity were a lure. The pain from the loss of her mother was great enough that she did not feel a need to return home again. To that end, her father and brothers were left behind to fend for themselves on the farm without the womanly touches that made the house into a home.

As time passes, Flora finds herself on something of a treadmill, no closer to goals for career or romance. It is at this impasse that the law firm she works for finds that they desperately need her. All she has to do is go back home and smooth the way with the locals regarding an incredibly wealthy client’s new business endeavor. This could be just the thing to prove herself to the firm and to her hunky but aloof boss.

THE CAFÉ BY THE SEA is my first book from Jenny Colgan, and I can certainly tell that I have been missing something wonderful. Characters are distinct and genuine with mild though distinctive quirks. The author welcomes us in with a chummy tone and an open overview of the heroine’s apparent strengths and weaknesses, and mostly the latter, at that. Watching Flora struggle with life, her family, relationships, and the continued mourning of her mother was by turns funny, somber, and painful. However, the exasperation, misunderstandings, and old hurts are turned into something truly uplifting in the end.

The café in the title of the story comes about as a scheme to further Flora’s client into the good graces of the town council. Never mind that our heroine intends merely taking on this unusual role temporarily. This is where Flora really finds her footing. It seems clear to all that she is flourishing with the running of the venue, cooking up a storm. And the newly found recipes from her mother help her to find peace, happiness, and self-confidence.

While I would not call this a romance, there are definite romantic elements to this story, movingly depicted and not looking at all straightforward. We wend our way through the story with a will he, or will he, or maybe he be the one to steal Flora’s heart? But it is a sweet and gentle route to the end.

Jenny Colgan gifts the readers with a few recipes to try, but more importantly, gives us a beautifully written story possessing an abundance of charm and warmth. Flora’s return home precipitates her shedding her uncertain demeanor. The blandness of her life and struggles in the big city are left far behind as she slowly changes from nondescript to vibrant and comfortable in her own skin.

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