Baking fanatic, Charlie Quilter, is surprised when her late uncle bequeaths his vintage bus to her in his will. Charlie thinks it will be the perfect mobile café for afternoon tea, and when her friend, Juliette, suggests Charlie comes to stay with her in the picturesque Cornish village of Porthgolow, she’s thrilled at the chance of a new start.
Charlie and her cute dog, Marmite, make new friends wherever their bus stops – except for the attractive but reclusive owner of the posh spa up on the hill, Daniel Harper, who isn’t very pleased that her bus is parked outside his lovely hotel.
Has Charlie’s Cornish dream developed a soggy bottom? Or can she convince Daniel that her bus could be the start of something wonderful for the little village – and for them?
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Many thanks to Harper Collins UK via NetGalley for my copy of The Cornish Cream Tea Bus: Don't Go Baking my Heart to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.
Wow I just loved every minute of part one of Cressida McLaughlin's new series The Cornish Cream Tea Bus. I knew from the first two or three pages that this book was special and that I was going to thoroughly enjoy it. I got that buzz, which seems to be rarer for me these days, and feeling more or less instantaneously that Charlie Quilter's story was one which was going to really get under my skin and not let go until I have read the final word. I say read the final word because as this is only part one, I still have three more sections to savour and enjoy. Although taking your time with this story is not an option given its short length and the fact that you want to keep rapidly turning the pages to see what is going to happen. The only fault I found with the story is with the title, although I think it is quirky, and I totally get the reference to the famous song where it connects to part one I wasn't sure at all or did I totally miss something? But aside from that and let's face it the title didn't really impact on me or affect my reading of the story I found part one to be an excellent read.
Why did I love my introduction to Charlie so much? Several reasons, the first being the wonderful descriptions that the author is known for. She has this unique ability to describe things so well without endless detail. A paragraph or two may suffice as every word is chosen with care and the images created easily slip into your mind so you feel that you are there alongside Charlie as she takes a brave new step in her life. Another reason I quickly embraced this story is that there was literally no messing around with pointless back story or filler in scenes just to set up the overall plot of the book. I find this a regular occurrence in books which have been split into parts and therefore some parts are far stronger than others. Thankfully this wasn't the case here at all, we were straight into the action and the reader could easily keep track of what was going on as in another bonus there wasn't a heap of characters introduced all at once. Which then results in you struggling to keep track of who is who and what is actually going on with them. No, the author got straight down to business and I was so thankful for that because it meant part one was action packed with no lulls and so much occurring. Yes, I think I know already what final direction the story may venture in but who cares it's more about the journey and experiencing all this with Charlie. The romance element has popped up fairly early on but I'm sure the will they/won't they aspect will flow through the three remaining parts.
Charlie receives a letter from her Uncle Hal following his death which informs her that she has inherited his old bus Gertie, a 1960's Routemaster, a double decker which was his pride and joy although it is badly need of refurbishment. He tells her to live her life to the full as you only get one chance and to make the most of any opportunities that are presented to her and to always do what is right for her. Wise words but will Charlie taken them to heart. Charlie is devastated by the loss of Hal and questions is there any point in taking his advice but following an incident at a local festival where really she only had the best of intentions Charlie decides to leave her home town and take up her friends Juliette's offer. She decides to come and stay with her in the coastal Cornish village of Porthgolow and with her comes Gertie who she then decides to have refurbished. Having worked at a local café in her home town Charlie has the clever idea of turning the bus into a mobile café -The Cornish Cream Tea Bus. As soon as it is ready she has given herself the challenge of turning the fortunes of Porthgolow around.
I thought it was brilliant that we didn't have the usual Cornish village bustling with tourists and things going so well during the summer months that the residents could afford to sit back a little during the winter months. Despite its charm and the picturesque coastline, Porthgolow was a village in trouble and being an outsider looking in Charlie could see this. It gave fuel to the fire which had already been ignited when she created the challenge for herself to transform the bus and make a go of things. She feels she can do the same for the village but would the residents prefer to stumble along the way they have for so long. It's a beautiful place that is not being truly loved and showcased, Charlie feels that she is an asset and meant to be there. She can see such potential and visualise how everyone's fortunes could change but with a huge, luxury hotel recently opened nearby is she battling against the big guns and will it be to no avail.
I loved the introduction of some of the residents of Porthgolow. There was just enough information about them to arouse my interest and I was glad to see that they weren't all rammed down our throats on a single page. I sense we'll get to know a lot more about them in the remaining parts similar to the way Charlie will become more familiar with them now she has made the decision to stay and make a go of things. I thought she was mature and brave to realise and come to an understanding that up until this point she had been doing too much at once, that she needs time to rest and to heal and by getting away from everything she will hopefully find the new perspective she desperately needs. By doing this, arriving in Porthgolow and seeing things from an outsider's perspective, she becomes determined to turn things around and has given herself the challenge which she didn't realise she needed which will ultimately help her in the healing process. I for one can't wait to see how she will set about achieving this.
Part Two The Eclair Affair publishes at the end of June and I will be first in the queue to read it. I don't think I have been buzzing so much about a book from Cressida since the Primrose Terrace series, although I have loved them all, but everything was just so brilliant and the vibe and atmosphere emanating from the book was one to be savoured.
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