Friday, 24 April 2015

Guest Book Review: Samantha Tonge - Game of Scones

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

A story of icing and flour…and how love doesn’t always go to plan!

Growing up, Pippa Pattinson’s summers were spent in the idyllic Greek island fishing village of Taxos. There she spent many long hazy days determinedly ignoring thoughts of the life her parents had mapped out for her (a dreary-but-secure accounting job and obligatory sensible husband!) Instead she daydreamed of running her own tea shop – serving the perfect scones – with mocha-eyed childhood friend Niklaus by her side…

Arriving back in Taxos for the first time in years, with suave boyfriend Henrik, Pippa barely recognises the tired little town – but is relieved to catch glimpses of the quaint, charming village she’s always loved. Together Niklaus and Pippa put together a proposal to save Taxos from tourist-tastic ruin, and at the heart of their plan is Pippa’s dream project: The Tastiest Little Tea Shop in Taxos. It’s time for Pippa to leave her London life behind and dust off her scone recipe that’s guaranteed to win over both locals and visitors. And amidst the rolling pins and raisins, it seems romance is blossoming where she’s least expecting it…

Amazon link: Kindle

Game of Scones is the first book I have read by Samantha Tonge and it was a pure delight from start to finish. The cover is bright and eye catching, perfect for the summer market. Also the title is snappy and has a great play on words. The title combined with the cover is sure to catch many people's eyes and within these pages a delicious story is just waiting to be read. Initially I did wonder how on earth were scones going to fit in with a story set in the small village of Taxos on the Greek island of Kos? But right from the beginning it just worked the book wasn't full of scones and baking but came just at the right times. Little did I know how many flavour combinations there are and these tantalising descriptions only made me want to try some baking even though I can't cook at all.

When we first meet Pippa Pattinson she is sitting in her London apartment weighing up the pros and cons of staying with her boyfriend Henrik. Pippa is disillusioned with her job as a bank executive and worn out from the endless rat race. The only relief she gets is when she bakes scones, it is her way of switching off, easing her worries and finding time to think and evaluate everything. Her dream as a youngster was to run a quaint, old fashioned teashop in Taxos, so how come she is stuck in a big city with a man who she likes but maybe not enough to marry? Deciding she needs a break from everything herself and Henrik book a three week holiday to Taxos. They stay in her parents villa and it is this trip that will have a profound effect on Pippa. She is forced to confront what has niggling at the back of her mind for sometime, the past is brought right into the present and decisions must be made.

Taxos is a rural village unspoilt by modern mass market tourism. The author does a wonderful job of describing the village, the beaches, the tavernas, the sea and all it's surroundings that I just wanted to book a holiday and fly away to sunnier climes (just a pity finances wouldn't allow this). Pippa is reunited with Nico whose family run the local taverna and soon familiar feelings come rushing to the surface. Really the chemistry sizzled between the pair and it was as if the last nine years apart had never happened. Unfortunately both now have partners and their lives are poles apart but god I so wanted them to get together. From reading their history it was like they should have never been apart.

Henrik wasn't the typical bad guy you expected him to be. He did have a soft centre despite his job meaning Taxos was on the verge of being turned into an 18/30's hell hole. I got the impression he did genuinely love Pippa and wanted what was best for her but Nico was stiff opposition. Nico was a fabulous character, a real family man who supported his parents and his grandmother while she was ill. There was no bullshit around Nico he said things as they were and was always trying to warn Pippa away from Henrik. At the same time he could become quite moody and stubborn but who doesn't like a bit of a challenge with a man? He believed in the potential of Taxos as a tourist destination which could showcase the real authentic Greek life and he stood up for this. Having two strong men polar opposites of each other all helped with the tension of the book as the residents of the sleepy little village come together to save their heritage.

As the residents battled to save Taxos you could see the community spirit emerging and Pippa certainly came into her own. She showed how independent, courageous and brave she could be. A woman who stuck to her morals and used her special talents with baking to do the best to secure the future of the village. From about the 60% mark the book picked up even more pace and there were numerous twists and turns that kept me interested. I couldn't figure out if I was going to get the ending I wanted which is what I like in a book. I like to be left guessing until the last page. There was plenty of drama thrown in which only enhanced the story and if you want to discover the outcomes I suggest you download this funny,romantic, feel good story immediately.

Part of what made this such an enjoyable read was that the characters already knew each other. Yes, they had not seen each other in over nine years but they had a past history growing up, spending long hot summers together which can never be forgotten. So there wasn't the usual first tentative meeting we read about in your average chick-lit book after which the characters proceed to act all coy for several hundred pages. This can be monotonous and boring. There was no setting up here instead we are given glimpses of childhood summers so the reader can understand the deep connection Nico and Pippa have. Circumstances have changed for both main characters but it is evident to the reader there is a bright spark between the two which is waiting to be reignited. It also helps when you have a great cast of supporting characters which in this case there was. There were quite a few characters to get to know but they were all used well. Too often characters are under utilised and just shoved in a book to boost numbers or so it seems. In Game of Scones they all had their roles to play and slotted in the story at just the right times. Nico's family and the residents of Taxos all helped make the book what it is. A feel good story full of scones with the added ingredients of romance and a little coruption.

Game of Scones is a lovely summer read that has the romance element but also something just that little bit different that will set it apart from all the other offerings we will be flooded with over the next few months. Samantha Tonge's writing is sharp and witty and she really got inside the head of Pippa and made her come across as a normal woman. A woman who hasn't got it all perfect and can be full of indecision like most of us. But at her centre is a heart of gold and that is what endeared me to Pippa  and she deserved everything which came her way. You can't go wrong buying this book,it is a quality story filled with mouthwatering descriptions of cooking as opposed to bloodshed as suggested by the title. I'd love to see a second book set in Taxos with maybe a few scone recipes thrown in as well. I'm sure there is more to write about these brilliant characters. Game of Scones is a superb summer read for lounging by the pool or soaking up the sun's rays in the garden. Just make sure you have a scone or two to hand before you start reading! 

I'd like to thank Emma for reviewing this eBook which we received from the publisher via NetGalley.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, thank you for such a brilliant review. So glad you enjoyed it, Emma! x