The Comfort Food Cafe is perched on a windswept clifftop at what feels like the edge of the world, serving up the most delicious cream teas; beautifully baked breads, and carefully crafted cupcakes. For tourists and locals alike, the ramshackle cafe overlooking the beach is a beacon of laughter, companionship, and security – a place like no other; a place that offers friendship as a daily special, and where a hearty welcome is always on the menu. (Goodreads)
This second trip to our favourite Dorset café is all about Laura’s sister, Becca, the tearaway of the family. She is known for drinking, drugs and sleeping around in comparison to Laura’s mumsy homemaking, not really having a direction to her life. Oh, and she absolutely hates Christmas and all the festive trimmings.
We are given an insight into her Christmas hatred at the beginning of the book, with her both looking forward to and dreading her visit to Dorset. She hasn’t yet told her sister that she has gone cold turkey from all the drink and one night stands, choosing to give it all up the day Laura’s husband died as her sister needed her support. With a sober Yuletide approaching, Becca can think of nothing worse than being surrounded by everyone else’s cheer.
On top of all that, Becca is well aware that her sister has been trying to matchmake her with surfer Sam all summer, sending her photos of his tanned beach body. Meeting the man in the flesh is no less impressive, with his cocky Irish lilt soon making its mark on Becca’s brain. However, she fears that even one slip from her cold turkey regime will lead to a descent into her past debauchery, happy to look and not touch. With such romantic tension between them, will Becca submit to a little festive romance?
I adore Johnson’s writing style, so this Christmas instalment felt like returning to the comfort of a warm blanket. The characters from the main summer novel all came flooding back to me and would also be easy to grasp for newcomers to the series. With this story being about Becca rather than Laura, we are given a new insight into the existing characters and be entertained by Becca’s forever cynical viewpoint.
I loved her as a protagonist, and would describe her as a lovable bitch, as she doesn’t mince her words when it comes down to being blunt. She can waft Sam’s cheeky banter away easily with witty comments of her own, and some of their exchanges provide great comedy. There is also a strong sense of vulnerability about her, as she has always been the disappointment and fears rejection. She is so determined to stay clean that she overlooks what could be with Sam, not willing to submit to a relationship.
This is where Sam really comes into his own, as he breaks down Becca’s defences and shows her that a relationship might not be as bad as she makes out. He admires her sense of fun and adventure, and proves to be dependable despite his cheeky nature. This fun Irishman is handsome and witty and could easily whisk Becca’s heart away if only she’d let him in.
They definitely make for a fun couple, but the novel is not without its difficulties. There are distinct reasons for Becca’s trouble with relationships, which are heartbreaking and explain a lot about her character. I would have liked to see her let Sam in a little more to her secrets, but nevertheless I loved seeing their connection grow and for Becca to gradually come to terms with family festivities. Their story was heartwarming and full of that magical Christmas spirit that leaves you with a big smile on your face. This was another fantastic romance from Johnson, and I’m already anticipating the next book!
Another fantastic seasonal romance from Debbie Johnson, this novella is just as heartwarming as the last and promises to embrace you in Christmas spirit. It makes for a great addition to the main novel and serves to enhance the characters and plotlines encountered previously. Alternatively, this can also be read as a standalone without any of the magic being lost. With two charismatic protagonists that share a steamy chemistry, this is not to be missed.