My final review this week is helping to kick off The Second Chance Café in Carlton Square blog tour by Lilly Bartlett. It’s release day for this feel-good summer read which is the second book in the Carlton Square series but I can assure you it happily works as a standalone (and you know how I hate jumping in mid-series)! There are several stops today in honour of the books release so check out the tour graphic below and be sure to say ‘Hi’ to everyone taking part!
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?
I loved the concept of this book, Emma Billings takes over the lease of a run-down pub in her neighbourhood and turns it into a café, but she also takes on young adults who need a second chance in life, someone to show some faith in them, as part of a six month training scheme. When I read the book blurb on being approached about this tour I knew I wanted to read the book that it was definitely up my street.
There was another thread to the story that I guess, having not read the first book I hadn’t anticipated, and that was that Emma has twin babies, and there is a large chunk of the book devoted to how she manages her marriage and being a parent. Whilst these are hilariously funny at times I just always find reading about babies really awkward, mainly just because I, personally, don’t like babies (I know, I know). Now you’ve all thrown rocks at me I’ll continue. So, it’s not that there was anything wrong with the story, or the writing or anything it’s just that those kinds of storylines make me uncomfortable. I prefer baby free storylines as much as possible please! *smiles nicely*
As for the main storyline based in the café, well it was fantastic. Such a range of characters, I particularly loved the freelancers, probably being a freelancer myself, and would have loved to meet a few more of them and seen how they related to Emma. I loved how she managed to find a way that they could work without the makeshift creche she had created not causing an issue.
The problems she encountered with someone stealing her milk every day, cancelling her orders, and generally sabotaging her in every way possible were ingenious. I can imagine people being that nasty business people can be quite nasty at times when they think they are under threat and Emma always dealt with everything with such grace.
Overall, this book had me laughing for most of the way through I loved the dynamics between characters and the way that Emma kept her cool even in the toughest situation, I can assure you I definitely would have blown my top at least ten times during this book in her place!
This is a great café read for the summer, an opportunity for you to sit back with a latté and a slice of cake and just get absorbed in Carlton Square for a bit!
Sending a huge thanks to Lilly Bartlett and Harper Impulse for the eARC so that I could read and honestly review this novel.
About Lilly Bartlett
Lilly Bartlett’s cosy romcoms are full of warmth, quirky characters and guaranteed happily-ever-afters.
Lilly is the pen-name of Sunday Times and USA Today best-selling author, Michele Gorman, who writes best friend-girl power comedies under her own name.
Book & Buy Links
Title: The Second Chance Café at Carlton Square
Series: Carlton Square #2
Author: Lilly Bartlett
Genre: Romance | Chick Lit
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Publication Date: 23 June 2017
Review Format: eBook
Other Formats: Paperback
Buy: Amazon UK | Book Depository | Wordery