Saturday, November 9, 2019

Summer at the Garden Cafe by Felicity Hayes-McCoy

Well, I finally finished a book this month! It's taken me a ridiculously long few weeks to complete a novel. Part of my problem is that I am reading four at once and making slow progress in each one of them. I started NaNoWriMo, and after a few weeks, I've had to throw in the towel. Just not feeling inspired enough to get past my 5100 words. I'd much rather read! 

Summer at the Garden Cafe snuck by me and I saw it by chance while picking up the next book in this delightful series, The Mistletoe Matchmaker.  So I had to buy it before I could read MM for December. I reviewed the first in the series, The Library at the Edge of the World  in 2017. Set in a small town in Ireland, I loved it and looking back at my review, I couldn't wait to read more. Well, it fell off my radar until I happened to see the holiday novel sitting on a table in my local bookstore. I'm happy to say Summer at the Garden Cafe had me settling back into the small town of Lissbeg and getting familiar with Hanna Casey, her daughter Jazz, and the many folks who make the town of Lissbeg come to life. Everyone's stories continue, after the library sees some exciting growth, and Hanna has settled into her cottage. She finds an old journal, buried near her cottage, written by her great aunt Maggie. Written in 1920, it hints at secrets and troubles that led Maggie to leave her beloved Mother and travel to London. Maggie does finally return, decades later, to settle back into the family cottage, but she is a changed person. Hanna, who inherited the cottage from Maggie, is intrigued by the journal, and it makes her wonder about her family dynamics, and how the woman she knew as Aunt Maggie became such a curmudgeon in her final years. 

Meanwhile, Jazz is working through some anger issues with her father, and figuring out just what she wants to do with her life. Conor, a young farmer from the first novel who works part-time at the library, is deeply involved with a local young woman and contemplating marriage. But oh gosh, they have some bumps in the road! 

I don't want to give too much away, because you do need to read the first in the series to understand the second. It's definitely not one to pick up and read on its own. It took me a good chunk of the novel to remember what had gone on in the first novel, but once I did figure it all out, I was sucked in all the way to the last page. I can't wait to read The Mistletoe Matchmaker in a few weeks.

If you are looking for a Debbie Macomber-type novel, or something that takes you away from home and whisks you to the beautiful hills of Ireland, oh, this is the series for you. The people who populate Lissbeg and the surrounding areas are just solid, down to earth folks, but so enjoyable to read about. Characters evolve at a nice pace, and it will all leave you with a thirst for a cup of tea and a cozy cottage. Yes, there is romance, but it's not overdone at all, and it is actually pretty realistic, too, as Hanna and Brian navigate how to begin a relationship after some bad luck at love. 

This novel was exactly what I needed these first few weeks of November. The three would make a lovely present for someone in your life--or you! 

Rating:  4/6 for a smooth continuation of a series that doesn't fall flat. Life continues at a steady pace in Lissbeg, and characters make some bold choices in their journey to happiness. 

Available in paperback, ebook, and audio.

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