Reviewed by Emma Crowley
A summer of taking chances!
Rosie Hewitt’s dream of opening a little French café on the Riviera is finally coming true. She’s giving up on love and instead chasing her own perfect recipe for happiness…
Only, she never expected the oh-so-sexy, award-winning chef, Sebastian Groc, to set up a rival restaurant next door – or for his freshly-baked croissants to smell quite so delicious.
But with just a few days until she opens her doors and all her sugar-coated dreams crumbling around her, Rosie isn’t prepared to give up without a fight!
Jennifer Bohnet was a new author for me as I picked up Rosie's Little Café on the Riviera. Again another book featuring a café of which there seems to be so many of this year so far despite being only two months into the year. This book was a very light read and I did spend an enjoyable few hours in the company of Rosie as she battles to keep her dream of a café by the sea a reality. There were a few storylines through out the book and at times I felt it became slightly disjointed and went off track but at other points it did give me that nice warm feeling inside as the themes of friendship, forgiveness and working together came to the fore. One thing that was excellent about the book was the setting and I suppose that made me get over the fact I was reading another café book with similar themes to books I had recently read.
The French town where the café is situated really came alive on the pages and even though I have never been to France I felt I got a real sense of the country, the climate, the people and the lifestyle. The story doesn't just focus on Rosie. We also have Erica who runs the vintage shop The Cupboard Under the Stairs. She is struggling to cope bringing up her beautiful girl Cammie following the death of her beloved husband. Georgina George or Gee Gee rents a desk at an estate agents and is finding it difficult to make ends meet in the cutthroat world of selling houses on the French Riveria. Each women featured in the story is battling with something internally and makes attempts throughout to put on a brave face but there are times when we need to let go and tell the truth and accept help and advice.
Rosie had had plans to be married by 30 with a lovely family but sadly this hasn't come to pass. For the last number of years she has worked on board a luxury yacht cooking in the galley and although she enjoyed this now is the time to see her long held dream come true. She bought the run down café in the hopes she could turn it into something successful both in the day and night. She wants everything kept secret from Charlie, her ex, who works on board the yacht. I could see Rosie was an independent woman who had firm aspirations and wanted to see them fulfilled. She was a hard worker and was willing to put in the hours to make everything run smoothly and successfully in the café.
Charlie makes several reappearances throughout the book and I found him to be so frustrating and like a leech that simply wouldn't let go. I wanted Rosie to let rip and tell the truth and tell him to get out of her life but she was too nice and polite to do that. Rosie soon has Tansy and James helping her out in the café and in my mind there were under-utilised and could have done with a bit of a storyline themselves. I know the focus is on the three women but still they just seemed to there as filler ins and to get a mention every now and again.
The descriptions of all the lovely food being created in the café were mouthwatering and I found myself craving something nice to eat while reading unfortunately nothing materialised for me. Rosie was never one to relax, she was always apprehensive and on edge despite as I said being a worker she feels the pressure to give everything a good go. It doesn't help matters when Michelin chef Seb Groc rocks up to the hotel next door and reopens it with a brand new restaurant. Will it all to be too much or will Rosie start to find love when she least expected it or will business issues crop up that threaten everyone's happiness?
I realise Rosie was the main character but I liked Erica and Gee Gee more, they seemed more relaxed in a way despite having their own problems. I could sense Erica had been deeply affected by her husband's death and as Cammie was finding things difficult she too couldn't move on. It was interesting to see how her aspect of the storyline would play out as we see her struggle with what she know needs to happen compared with the reality of achieving this. Gee Gee was really there for Erica and it was lovely to see their bond deepen and how they both helped each other out in little ways that may not seem much to an outsider looking in but to each other meant so much more. I was very pleased with the resolution Erica found and enjoyed her storyline very much.
As for Gee Gee she seemed to me not fully content in the job she was in. It was like a high powered city job always battling on a day to day basis like a wheel she could never get off. The only difference being she was living in the sun and trying to have a good lifestyle. The author did build up a very good picture of a woman who wanted to have it all but professional life was proving too much and other people dominating the estate agent scene particularity someone who makes a reappearance may just prove too much for her. To be honest I found it quite strange that she would find things so difficult that she hardly had any money for food. Surely you wouldn't let things get that bad. I know she lived off commission but still I found this aspect of her storyline slightly unrealistic. On the other hand I loved how when things got exceedingly tough Gee Gee didn't just down tools and give up. She strived to find solutions and better options and all at the same time helping Rosie and Erica in any way possible. Gee Gee was kind, caring, compassionate and determined and I hoped she would the find the answers she was so desperately looking for.
Rosie's Little Café on the Riviera was a nice enough read but it didn't blow me away. The theme of starting and attempting to keep going a café has been done many times and although a lovely story I felt nothing majorly new was brought to this theme. At times it was slightly predictable and I knew fairly on what the outcome would be and the fact I identified more with what I consider the two slightly more minor characters annoyed me in a way as it's Rosie storyline I should have become totally riveted by. At times I thought things were rather rushed and brushed over and required more depth and I thought the three girls could have connected more between themselves. The three separate storylines needed gelling together just that little bit more. Overall it was a pleasant story and enjoyable to read at the time but not the best I have read so far this year and maybe not quite one I will remember come the end of
2017. But there will be people who will love every aspect of this book, I'm just disappointed I couldn't fully love as much as I had hoped to.
Many thanks to HQ Digital via NetGalley for my copy of Rosie's Little Café on the Riviera to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.