Review: Summer at the Cornish Cafe by Phillipa Ashley

Sunday, 12 June 2016
Title: Summer at the Cornish Cafe
Author: Phillipa Ashley
Publisher: Maze
Publication Date: 5th May 2016
Pages: 298
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 3.5/5
Purchase: Amazon
Demi doesn’t expect her summer in Cornwall to hold anything out of the ordinary. As a waitress, working all hours to make ends meet, washing dishes and serving ice creams seems to be as exciting as the holiday season is about to get.

That’s until she meets Cal Penwith. An outsider, like herself, Cal is persuaded to let Demi help him renovate his holiday resort, Kilhallon Park. Set above an idyllic Cornish cove, the once popular destination for tourists has now gone to rack and ruin. During the course of the Cornish summer, Demi makes new friends – and foes – as she helps the dashing and often infuriating Cal in his quest. Working side by side, the pair grow close, but Cal has complications in his past which make Demi wonder if he could ever truly be interested in her.

Demi realises that she has finally found a place she can call home. But as the summer draws to a close, and Demi’s own reputation as an up and coming cafĂ© owner starts to spread, she is faced with a tough decision . . .

Summer at the Cornish Cafe was my first read from Phillipa Ashley and I can confidently say that it will not be my last. Once I saw the title I did wonder whether this book was just going to be yet another rehash of the family member being left a cafe (or a shop/restaurant/B&B etc) only to take it over and make it a roaring success but it seems as though the publisher is just playing on that to create a title that will entice readers into taking a look at this book because the cafe is basically a nonentity and I feel as though a more generic title, or one more suited to the story that unfolds within would be better suited to the book. It's no wonder that some people turn their noses up at this genre for its repetitiveness as you only have to look on Amazon to see so many similar sounding books which, annoyingly, probably aren't all that similar but the way they are marketed makes it seem that way.

So, Summer at the Cornish Cafe certainly isn't a rehash of anything that came before it (in this genre at least, I believe it's some kind of Poldark retelling which I know nothing about) and is instead a thoroughly entertaining story which takes place in such a gloriously sounding Cornwall setting. I have read about this place so much that it feels like I have visited before, but sadly, I am yet to go and instead must settle for these beautiful places that authors create within Cornwall. Books in this genre for me are all about escapism, and as I picked this book up during a bit of a difficult time personally, it was just so enjoyable to switch off for a while each night and jump into this world that Phillipa had created and to focus on somebody else's problems. I also want to be left with that warm glow inside at the end of the story (and perhaps some jealousy that it's not my own) and I got all of that and more with this story. I did become more and more disheartened as the percentage on my Kindle got closer to 100 because I wasn't ready to finish the story and I already can't wait for the second book.

One of our main characters is Demi and I have to say she was just brilliant. One way for an author to instantly make me connect with a character is to place them in a situation where they are hard done by, or where something happens to them that leaves them feeling angry and the reader feeling angry and that's what happens when Demi loses her job. I don't want to say too much about the villain that Phillipa has created but they were just brilliant and these types of characters are often some of my favourites because of what they add to the story. Demi was just such a refreshing and original character to read about. She was feisty, not without her flaws and certainly not perfect but she was normal. She was someone I could easily imagine as a real person and in fact, she did remind me of some of my female friends. Despite being a male, I actually found myself relating to her at times and I was very quickly rooting for her in the adversity that she was facing. Demi is a brilliantly created and well thought out character and I imagine that most readers will really like her.

Growing up, all of the holidays that I went on until I was 16 took place in the UK and so when Demi meets Cal and starts to help him attempt to restore his family's caravan park back to its former glory, I kind of imagined it as a mixture of all the places I visited growing up. Albeit a little bit dilapidated and in need of a lot of love and work. But, once that seed was planted I was firmly rooting for these two characters to make a success not only of the park but also of a blossoming romance with each other. I just loved picturing everything in my mind and Phillipa's descriptions really allowed me to picture everything quite vividly. I love it when an author writes from the male point of view in this genre because I have long been annoyed by just reading from the female's point of view as sometimes they have an outdated or exaggerated view on men and so it's always nice to actually know what the male character is thinking and feeling rather than just reading about what the female thinks he is feeling. It gives a whole lot more depth to the male character when we can read from their point of view.

The story (and love story) here was especially enjoyable because nothing was ever easy and it wasn't a totally predictable read either. Like most great films our on screen couple face many obstacles and problems before they can even think about getting their happy ever after and it's fair to say that Cal and Demi face their fare share over the course of this book and still are by the end of it. Cal's story and background was especially interesting and it had me thinking a lot as I read. The story between these two characters is definitely going to be a memorable one and I am very excited to read the second instalment. Summer at the Cornish Cafe is a book that I could go on and on about but I think I've put across my main points and so all I can do now is offer my recommendation and hope it encourages somebody to take a chance on this book and pick it up. It's a truly wonderful and enjoyable read and it's perfect for escaping into this summer and I cannot wait to read more from Phillipa Ashley.

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