What they say:
Everyone expects great things from Emma Billings, but when her future gets derailed by an unexpected turn of events, she realizes that getting back on track means traveling in a different direction.
She finds it in the closed-down pub on Carlton Square. Summoning every ounce of ingenuity, and with the help of her friends and family, she opens the Second Chance Café. The charity training business is meant to keep vulnerable kids off the streets and (hopefully) away from the Metropolitan Police, and her new employees are full of ideas, enthusiasm … and trouble. They’ll need as much TLC as the customers they’re serving.
This ragtag group of chancers have to make a go of a business they know nothing about, and they do get some expert help from an Italian who’s in love with the espresso machine and a professional sandwich whisperer who reads auras, but not everyone is happy to see the café open. Their milk keeps disappearing and someone is canceling the cake orders, but it’s when someone commits bloomicide on all their window boxes that Emma realizes things are serious. Can the café survive when NIMBY neighbors and the rival café owner join forces to close them down? Or will Emma’s dreams fall as flat as the cakes they’re serving?
The Review: Today is my stop on The Second Chance Café in Carlton Square, the second in the Carlton Square series. Here we meet Emma Billings, who is refurbishing an old pub, with a plan for it to become a café that will help the locality, in part by taking on employees who need a little bit of help. I always love stories where there’s a big job to be undertaken to start a new place, and so I was happy out! This is an interesting book, kind of mom lit where we see Emma with the kids meets cosy read, where we experience all the goings on in setting up and being in the café.
There were a myriad of characters, so so many and this was the reason I wish I’d read the first-so that I could have gotten to know them earlier, and in more detail. The characters range from her family, with a great group of older characters, in particular her lovely Dad, to her friends, a very varied group of mothers who I liked in places and perhaps found a little loud in others, and of course her employees and customers. In fact it is because of all these characters that I wouldn’t recommend this as a standalone.
So. Emma’s feeling overwhelmed with this big task because she also has very young twins and feels everything is left to her (I agreed with this in places but then also found Emma to be a tad ott on that front in others, just because I loved Daniel!) The book on the whole was very enjoyable, I couldn’t believe the sabotage when it came, hitting us hard and fast and I couldn’t wait to see the end result. The whole book was like this, always something happening, which was great in places, and then in others I kind of wished we could slow down a little, in particular for the parts I really enjoyed. All in all a very enjoyable read, not always my cup of coffee, but most definitely one that will appeal to so many! Thanks so much to Michele Gorman and Harper Impulse for the ARC in return for an honest review.
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About the author
Lilly Bartlett’s cosy romcoms are full of warmth, quirky characters and guaranteed happily-ever-afters.
Lilly is the pen-name of Sunday Times and USA Today best-selling author, Michele Gorman, who writes best friend-girl power comedies under her own name.