My grateful thanks to Michele Gorman for an advanced reader copy of The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square in return for an honest review.
Having previously read and enjoyed The Big Little Wedding at Carlton Square by Lilly Bartlett, my review of which you can read here, I’m delighted to be reviewing the second in the series, The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square.
The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square is published today, 23rd June 2017, by Harper Impulse and is available for purchase here.
The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square
One chance isn’t always enough…
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 that new path 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?
My review of The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square
When Emma tries to juggle marriage, twins and a new cafe under attack from a rival, it appears something has got to give.
Although I’m so glad I had already met several of the characters in The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square because I have read The Big Little Wedding at Carlton Square which introduces them, and it felt like returning to old friends I haven’t seen for a while, it wouldn’t make any difference to new readers as Lilly Bartlett weaves in their back story so seamlessly that there’s enough information to give them depth and familiarity to all.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story of new enterprise, rivalry, marriage challenges and friendship and community. The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square provides a vivid sense of place. There’s mystery, sabotage, entrepreneurial growth and social conscience underpinning a fast paced plot. Reading The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square did prick my conscience slightly as I think I may have made similar judgements to those Emma initially makes about Lou for example and this is what elevates The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square above similar books in this genre. Lilly Bartlett has the ability to make her readers think as well as to entertain them.
What is also very skilled is the naturalistic dialogue and style. The prose is sassy, witty and appeals directly to the reader so that it is like being in Emma’s head rather than reading about her.
The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square is a smashing summer read that transports readers into another world for a while and I heartily recommend it.
About Lilly Bartlett
Lilly Bartlett is a pen name of Michele Gorman. Michele writes books with heart and humour, full of best friends, girl power and, of course, love and romance. Call them beach books or summer reads, chick lit or romcom… readers and reviewers call them “feel good”, “relatable” and “thought-provoking”.
She is both a Sunday Times and a USA Today bestselling author, raised in the US and living in London. She is very fond of naps, ice cream and Richard Curtis films but objects to spiders and the word “portion”.
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