Monday, 14 September 2015

The Grand Reopening of Dandelion Cafe - Jenny Oliver

The Blurb

Home, Sweet Home….?

There’s nowhere more deliciously welcoming…

When Annie White steps back onto Cherry Pie Island, it’s safe to say her newly inherited Dandelion Café has seen better days! And while her childhood home on the Thames-side island idyll is exactly the same retreat from the urban bustle of London she remembers, Annie’s not convinced that Owner of The Dandelion Cafe is a title she’ll be keeping for long. Not that she can bear the idea of letting her dedicated, if endearingly disorganized staff lose their jobs. Plus café life does also have the added bonus of working a stone’s throw away from millionaire Matt and his disarmingly charming smile!
One (shoestring budget) café makeover, a few delightful additions to the somewhat retro menu and a lot of cherry pie tastings later, The Dandelion Café is ready for its grand reopening! But once she’s brought the dilapidated old café back to life, Annie finds herself wishing her stay on the island was just a bit longer. She always intended to go back to the big city…but could island living finally have lured her back home for good?

Perfect for fans of Lucy Diamond, Sophie Kinsella and Cathy Bramley.

The Cherry Pie Island series
The Grand Reopening of Dandelion Café – Book 1
The Vintage Ice Cream Van Road Trip – Book 2
The Great Allotment Challenge – Book 3
One Summer Night at the Ritz – Book 4

The Grand Reopening of Dandelion Café is Book 1 in The Cherry Pie Island series.

Each part of Cherry Pie Island can be read and enjoyed as a standalone story – or as part of the utterly delightful series.

The Review

I've read a few of Jenny Oliver's books and there are two things I've really enjoyed about them - the way she writes about community and the descriptions of food.  Honestly, there's no one else who can make my mouth water so much purely through their writing!

I absolutely loved The Parisian Christmas Bake Off when I read it a few years ago and also found The Little Christmas Kitchen and The Vintage Summer Wedding were good reads, although didn't captivate me in the same way.  However, with The Grand Reopening of Dandelion Café Jenny Oliver had me hooked from the very first page - she's back to her baking best!

Firstly, I loved that Annie had a past.  She's not broken by it, but it's there - an ex-husband from a Vegas wedding, an insecurity built on her father's preference for her brother over her, a lack of money management skills... I felt that by knowing more about Annie's history I empathised with her plight as she fought her inner battle over what to do with the café she's inherited.   Should she stay and revamp it?  Is it financially viable?  Or should she sell it and allow developers to change the landscape of Cherry Pie Island forever?

Of course, this is a romance so there's a love interest (Hello Matt!)  Annie and Matt's friendship develops throughout the book and it's a cute and believable progression.  Both characters had baggage from their pasts but I was cheering this couple on and willing them to get together!

But the absolute highlights for me were the deliciously tempting descriptions of food being sold in the café and Jenny Oliver's charming titbits of information about the café's homely interior.  Even by the end of the book it's nothing swish, but that adds to the delightful normalcy of it.  It's exactly the kind of place you hope to stumble across for friendly conversation and a bite to eat, and is the perfect fictional retreat.

I'll definitely be back for another slice of cherry pie as the series continues.  Mine's a large slice with cream please, Annie. 

The Grand Reopening of Dandelion Café is out now, published by Carina.

With thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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