I am so excited at being given the golden ticket – the chance to review the second book in Jessica Redland’s Starfish Cafe series. What better way to hail the start of spring (we did actually have hail and snow last week) than to share it with Hollie, of the Starfish Cafe fame. Without fail, I love Jessica Redland’s books and I admire the way that she continues to produce books of such quality, that I do not want to put them down. I enjoy the concept of a book becoming a series of books, and I look forward to the new instalments being released. Jessica is such a talented writer and I will happily lap up any of her books tat come along.

I already know that Hollie and Jake are the most endearing pair, both individually and as part of a couple, but I am looking forward to meeting some more new characters. In fact, such is my fondness for ’Hake’ as I shall call them herein, that I had thought we were on at least book three by now!

I loved the descriptive language in the book – even the simple things such as setting the early morning scene on the Starfish Cafe terrace. These words made me wish that I could jump into the pages of a book at will, Jumanji style. Were that to be a reality, my very first stop would be that terrace at the Starfish Cafe, to breathe in the cool, early morning sea air.

Hollie had been through so much in such a relatively short life, that it really broke my heart every time Jake was called out as lifeboat crew; she had already lost so much to that life boat, and I hate to think what might flash though her mind on those occasions. She was pretty amazing for just holding things together – at least in public. Having been brought up by the seaside, I understand the concept of having ’sea in your blood’ and I sincerely hoped that Hollie would fulfil the lifeboat captain’s prediction of her becoming their first crew member. Will Jake have any thoughts on the matter? Indeed, if Hake were to have children surely only them would be able to crew at any one time? I really felt for Hollie, when her cave was trashed; who would do something like that? Sebastian Smythe had motive, but would he stoop so low?

I really felt for Tori upon first meeting her – I cannot imagine being scared to have lunch with my in-laws, worrying about what I looked like and what I was wearing, at 38 years of age! Surely her Partner, Leyton, should be standing up for her. Frankly I felt very little for Leyton (even before he is unmasked as a liar) as he should be able to stand up for himself at forty years old – but then his parents having a controlling interest in the business he runs, clearly doesn’t help matters! I could clearly see why Leyton’s rude petulance (no doubt a behaviour learned from his Father), was beginning to wear Tori down, especially when combined with the behaviour of his parents.

I must confess to being rather intrigued upon being fed the titbit that Tori used to live in a castle with her parents. I thought that Tori was a strong character, too strong to put up with Leyton’s behaviour and I felt certain that she would flourish wherever she ended up. Tori’s formative years proved to be most interesting to an outsider like me, but must have been excruciating awful for her at the time. You will of course need to read the book for yourself to find out just how awful those early years were for Tori; all I will say is that their story exemplifies Jessica Redland’s unparalleled imagination!

Finlay was an interesting character, whom I thought showed tremendous strength, for holding things together, considering what he was going through in his life. After he unburdened himself to Tori, I hoped they could be friends. In actual fact, they’d be the perfect romantic match – he can’t have children, and she doesn’t want any children of her own.

I love a bit of intrigue and my curiosity was most certainly piqued by the snippet that Tori had some kind of fall out with her castellan parents. I’m not sure what interests me most – why Tori fell out with them, or how they came to live in a castle. Tori seems loyal to her friends, I can only imagine some kind of catastrophic break up. I was saddened by the story of Tori and Ewan, as is seemed that deep down they did still love each other. What a tragic story! Fascinatingly, Tori and Hollie’s lives start to become intertwined; I felt that they would be good friends.

I like that Jessica writes about strong female characters and I hope that this strength mirrors her own strength. Similarly I adore the way that she cleverly cross pollinates the characters in her books – to that end I was thrilled to come across Charlee and her chocolate shop again, despite the circumstances in which Charlee turns up in this book. (If you haven’t read about Charlene’s foray into chocolate, I do wholeheartedly recommend it https://eatwell2015.wordpress.com/2021/10/24/christmas-wishes-at-the-chocolate-shop-jessica-redland/ ) Indeed this book was crammed full with new, complex characters, before taking into account characters we have met before.

  • Why is ‘Slippy Smythe’ so keen to get his hands on the Starfish Cafe?
  • Is there any truth in the legend of Tingler’s Treasure?
  • What happened to Tori’s parents, seven years ago? What secret was Phipps keeping?

As you can tell, I loved this book with its amazing sense of community. I loved the way that the mosaic in the ’new’ cafe symbolised Hollie’s cafe journey, and the new design for the cafe just seemed so right. Tori’s family were amazing and I liked how she became so accepting of their quirks. Most beguiling was the do they/don’t they question hanging between Finlay and Tori.

This story really captured my imagination, with its real yet enticing characters. I found myself wanting to be part of their world.

I am so looking forward to the next instalment in Tori and Finlay’s story, and perhaps a ’Hake’ wedding, although I profess to some sadness at the next book being the last in the series.

To buy this book for yourself, use this link. Purchase link:https://amzn.to/3uCYFVL


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