Review: Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Café by Milly Johnson

Wednesday 17 June 2015
Title: Afternoon at the Sunflower Café
Author: Milly Johnson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 18th June 2015
Pages: 512
ISBN: 9781471140464
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 5/5
Purchase: Amazon
Connie Diamond has always been her husband Jimmy's 'best girl' - or so she thought. But then she discovers that he's been playing away for the past twenty-four years, and that the chocolates she believed he bought her as a sign of his love were just a cover-up, and she is determined to get revenge.

Along with Della Frostick, Jimmy's right-hand woman at his cleaning firm, Diamond Shine, (who Jimmy is about to replace with his young mistress) Connie decides to destroy Jimmy's life from the inside. Together they will set up a rival business, Lady Muck, and they'll make him wish he had never so much as looked at another woman.

Chocolate had been Connie's guilty pleasure but now it is a cruel reminder of Jimmy's deceit. But then she meets the charming Brandon Locke, a master chocolatier, whose kind chocolate-brown eyes start to melt her soul. Can Brandon cure Connie's affliction and help heal her broken heart…?

Milly Johnson's The Teashop on the Corner was one of my favourite reads of 2014 and so I was a little nervous about starting Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Café because I wanted to love it just as much. I've finished it and I want to read it again because it really was that good. It features a superb cast of characters and a brilliant story that I will not be forgetting in a hurry.

In the book's opening we meet Della Frostick who discovers her boss Jimmy Diamond has a history of infidelity, and his latest tart is office bimbo Ivanka (who is as stupid as you might expect her to be). Della wastes no time in revealing all to Lady Muck (aka Mrs. Connie Diamond) but she doesn't get the reaction that she hoped for. Jimmy Diamond is the owner of cleaning company Diamond Shine, and Connie soon comes up with an idea of how she will exact revenge against her husband; by setting up a rival cleaning company - the aptly-named Lady Muck - and having Della help destroy Diamond Shine by dismantling it from the inside. Neither woman in the beginning realises the journey this will take them on.

Connie Diamond is a woman living a settled - if unhappy - life and she experiences doubts in the beginning as to whether she has the courage to see it through. She very quickly became a character that I could believe in and I rooting for her from the off. Della is an intriguing character, not without issues of her own and some doubts about Connie's plan. Della's opinion of Connie has always been quite negative but a friendship is formed between the two, and it forms the basis for the whole story, and it was one that I loved seeing develop. The ideas they come up with for taking down the company are just so incredibly imaginative that it makes the book so much fun to read.

Milly's books often contain a large cast of characters, and in Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Café my favourite was one of the cleaners, Cheryl. Cheryl is a woman who is quite accepting of her poor lot in life, unwilling to do anything about it because she thinks that is all she is good for. Underneath all that though I saw the woman she could be, and the woman I wanted her to be. Despite being a man, I saw some of her traits in myself, and there were some lines in the book that really resonated with me and I very quickly wanted Cheryl's luck to change. She was such a likeable character, probably the most likeable in the book and without being able to say why, her story was fantastic and gave me some of my favourite moments in this book.

Jimmy Diamond is such a cliche it should be ridiculous but really he was just so easy to picture. I could just imagine the awful tanned skin, the terrible smile and the disgusting aftershave I imagined him to wear. I so wanted Ivanka to get her comeuppance because I loathe those girls that throw themselves at rich men but I have to be honest and say that she was quite an enjoyable comedy character to read about. Jimmy is a believable character, and there were a couple of times in the book where I nearly ended up feeling sorry for him. Nearly! There are a number of secondary characters that add further depth to both the story and the main characters themselves so there is so much going on outside of taking down the company, especially when Connie Diamond meets a certain chocolatier (not ideal when she's off the chocolate) that it really is an action-packed book.

Milly's books contain some brilliant quotes, lines that make you reflect on life and Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Café is no different. The cafe doesn't play as much of a role in the story as you would expect it to with it being in the book's title but the scenes with the various characters there were great. Milly creates strong and believable female characters, ones who readers can really root for and I think the ones in this book might just be some of the most realistic and relateable that she has created. It is a 500-plus page read but those pages fly by because of everything Milly has packed into the story; humour, drama, heartache, romance, and plenty of wonderful little twists and turns before a truly satisfying ending and I don't think her fans will be disappointed with this book. Like me you will be cheering these characters on every step of the way.


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