A big massive welcome to Lilly Bartlett and the blog tour for her new novel, The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square.
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?
My verdict on The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square…
The Second Chance Café in Carlton Square is the second novel from Lilly Bartlett (the alter ego of the fabulous Michele Gorman.)
It’s the sequel to The Big Little Wedding in Carlton Square but you don’t have to have read the first one to read this book (in my opinion.)
Having recently read The Big Little Wedding in Carlton Square, it was nice to be able to return so quickly to this world and these characters. It was like rejoining some friends and catching up with their lives.
Emma is now a married mother of two. Her perspective on life is a little different and has progressed since the first book. She has grown as a character. She decides that she wants to open a café. The old closed down pub in the middle Carlton Square seems like the perfect place.
She also decides that she wants to run a training programme for vulnerable teenagers to keep them off the streets.
All seems to be going OK until an anonymous person begins to sabotage her café – going to dangerous means to do so.
The way she handles herself through the book is interesting to follow as well as how she deals with the issues that face her. No matter what faces her, she seems to try to rise to the challenge.
The plot is developed nicely and the characters and story lines which are carried on from the first book progress well. It was great to see familiar faces. The established cast of this book as well as some new people that we meet in the course of the story are also well integrated. Elsie and Carl are especially adorable.
This book is warm, well written, funny and relatable. If you’re looking for something great to take on holiday, the Carlton Square series is perfect. I loved both books. Can’t wait to see if Lilly visits Carlton Square again. I do hope so.
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.