Saturday, 17 March 2018

Emma's Review: The Cafe at Seashell Cove by Karen Clarke

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Welcome to the Café at Seashell Cove, where you’ll find irresistible home-baked cakes, smiling friendly faces – and maybe even a second chance at love…

When Cassie Maitland needs a holiday from her glamorous but stressful job in event management, she escapes home to gorgeous Seashell Cove, where her family’s cosy café sits perched on the cliffs above sparkling waves and golden sand.

But a lot has changed while Cassie’s been away: her parents have transformed their tired café into a welcoming haven, her friends Meg and Tilly have whole new lives, and old flame Danny’s twinkling eyes and winning smile make Cassie feel even more flustered than they used to.

Keen to throw herself back into local life, Cassie starts to run themed events – including a not entirely successful cat-café day, complete with dozens of felines. Luckily Danny is always around to lend a helping hand, and Cassie soon begins to wonder if her life in London was really all she made it out to be…

Could a new start in Seashell Cove be exactly what Cassie needs?

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Many thanks to Bookouture via NetGalley for my copy of The Cafe at Seashell Cove to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.

I loved this book so much I devoured it in one sitting as I couldn't bear to leave it out of my hands once I had picked it up. The Café at Seashell Cove has such a lovely title and an equally as gorgeous cover that conjures up so many beautiful images in one's mind. It was nice to have a new setting for Karen Clarke's books as I was beginning to think the books set in Shipley had naturally run their course and something new and fresh was needed. That was certainly what I found here in spades as within the first paragraph you find yourself gasping out loud and laughing at the scene unfolding in front your eyes. In fact I would say it's best to keep your eyes shut, if only our main character Cassie had been able to do so. If you get a good feeling regarding book the minute you pick it up you just know you are going to enjoy every bit of it. Yes there is that ever so slight niggle at the back of your mind will this feeling last the entire way through but with The Café at Seashell Cove, my enjoyment just grew and grew as Cassie even though she struggled so much really found a place in my heart.

Cassie Maitland is an event planner and has spent the last few years working in London but now she is arriving home to Seashell Cove and to the heart of the cosy café her parents run on a headland overlooking the most beautiful vista. Cassie's parents Lydia and Ed are full of nothing but pride for their wonderful daughter who has achieved so much in her glittering career. They grab any opportunity to boast to all and sundry as to how well their daughter has done and how she has so effortlessly climbed the career ladder.

There is only one problem with this as what her parents believe to be true simply isn't, Cassie may have embellished the truth ever so slightly or just never dampened her parents enthusiasm for fear of upsetting them. Cassie and her younger brother Rob were always encouraged to fly the nest to find something better for themselves outside of Seashell Cove, to spread their wings and achieve as much as they can. That is what Cassie tried to do, unfortunately that didn't all go to plan and now she finds herself fired from her job and returning home. In fear of disappointing her parents she stretches the truth even further and says she is just home for a break to reassess and to plan what her next step should be. To be honest this to me seemed such a foolish thing to do. Cassie appeared to be digging an even deeper hole for herself when maybe admitting the truth and seeing people's reactions may have been the wiser choice. But one thing is clear when things go wrong, what do we do? Our natural instinct of course is to seek refuge and comfort from the familiar- our home and family.

Wounded from her experiences in London Cassie was attempting to cover everything up. She came back with a plan to revitalise the café and try and make more money for her parents. So the storyline seemed as if it was going to be one I had read countless times over. I couldn't have been more surprised as was Cassie when she discovers the café has been transformed and is now a hub of activity and a social place for all. Thanks in part to her old friend Tilly Campell, whom she hasn't seen for years, who employed her interior design skills and has now made the café the place to be. Meg Larson, another friend whom Cassie again let fall by the wayside, works a few hours at the café and supplies the cakes as well as some hours at the local bakery.

Seeing her old friends and Danny Fleetwood, a man she feels let her down when they were younger, sets Cassie to think why did she let good friends drop from her radar? An element of guilt sets in and so this feeling intensifies with regard to her parents. She was always so busy to pay proper visits or listen carefully to news her mother may impart on the phone. I suppose to suppress these feelings Cassie jumps in with all guns blazing with new and exciting adventures for the café. But does the café really need them or is for Cassie's own personal benefit to make herself feel better and to avoid confronting the actual truth.

There wasn't one character I didn't enjoy reading about in this book. All were brilliantly utilised and all offered lots of comedic moments but also advice and support when needed. Cassie flounders the more the book develops , maybe not in terms of the initiatives she comes up with but more so in the faith and belief she has in herself. She begins to think her parents have built up such a wonderful picture of their talented daughter that how can she bring them crashing back down to earth by admitting the truth? I hated the way Cassie doubted herself so much, she always seemed to put herself down and couldn't see how kind hearted she was. She always wanted to help others but forgot it's herself who perhaps needed the most help. I loved reading about the tea and coffee night, the cat day in the café, the games night and the comedy night in the pub.

Cassie thinks everything is a disaster but really she is bringing new fun elements to Seashell Cove and she should have been proud of herself. Her feelings of being unsettled only ever increased throughout the story as failure becomes a standard word in her heart and mind. Oh how I wished she didn't have to feel this way. On the romance front I felt Cassie had very mixed feelings. Rob a business man from London had been her latest squeeze but she feels this has gone by the wayside so really a new relationship is not on the cards but I had my suspicions regarding Danny. I fervently hoped said suspicions would come to fruition as Cassie deserved some happiness and contentment. Such a kind, loving picture of Danny was built throughout the story, any woman would love a Danny in their life. He seemed to pop up at just the right moments, he was a jack of all trades and would certainly help a girl in need.

Nan was another brilliant character and demonstrated the abundance of humour and laughter to be found in this book. Her fads were simply hilarious to read about and her latest embracing all things eco and green to bring her back to nature was a brilliant example of this. Offloading the shackles of modern society to be no longer tied by time had me roaring with laughter. I thought Cassie and her family were best to turn a blind eye and leave her up to her antics as surely she would grow out of the phase as is often mentioned in reference to teenagers! Ed and Lydia, Cassie's parents, even from our first encounter with them I just loved the pair. They loved their café but behind it all I felt they were hiding something in a similar way to Cassie. So clearly a lot of people in the book needed to confront their feelings. Even Rob, Cassie's younger brother had a lot of growing up to do.

There may have been plenty of characters to get to know but the book never felt over crowded with them or that one storyline would be lost amongst the others. Cassie's storyline was the main element of this book and all the other little sub-plots seemed to flow beautifully out from this. Cassie had a hidden talent, one in which she doubted her capabilities but I could see the positives in these and I hoped with time she would do the same.

Hopefully this is not the last we have heard from Seashell Cove as I thoroughly enjoyed this excellent read. Even if future books do not focus on Cassie I would certainly love to know more about Tilly and Meg, I wonder will they get their own story to share with us? The Café at Seashell Cove was a brilliant return to form for Karen Clarke and long may it continue. I hope lots of people pick up this fabulous book and enjoy it as much as I did.

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