Today I am pleased to take part in the Blog-Tour for The Second Chance Café in Carlton Square by Lilly Bartlett. It is a read I think many women will be able to identify with. Bartlett delivers realistic characters with a big helping of reality, and yet she balances the fun, the chaos and the more serious side of things with the skill of a circus juggler.
About the Author
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.
About the book
One chance isn’t always enough…
Everyone expects great things from Emma Billings, but when her future gets derailed by an unexpected turn of events, she realises that getting back on track means travelling 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 cancelling the cake orders, but it’s when someone commits bloomicide on all their window boxes that Emma realises things are serious. Can the café survive when NIMBY neighbours 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?
With all due respect to the high level of patience Emma shows throughout the entire fiasco with her nemesis, there is such a thing as being too nice. Personally I think I would have given the coppers a real reason to visit me. Emma is too complacent. She just ignores all the underhanded schemes and the attempts to bring her project to a standstill.
She needs to find a backbone and stand up for herself. While we are at it she also needs to articulate her needs better when it comes to her husband. Mothers often find themselves in a bit of a conundrum. They want to take care of their babies, and yet at the same time they want some free time. Unfortunately they feel guilty when they leave their children to go to work, pursue hobbies or just enjoy some child-free moments. It’s like being caught between a rock and a hard place. I don’t think men quite comprehend the strange boomerang type relationship women have with their children.
This story made me want to jump inside the pages and take up arms on behalf of Emma. I was enraged by the petty attacks on her business. A place where anyone can enjoy a slice of cake and a posh cup of coffee. It also isn’t called Second Chance for nothing. Emma wants to give back to the community or society in general by hiring juvenile delinquents to work in her café.
She believes everyone deserves a second chance in life, especially young people in vulnerable or difficult situations. Where others see hopeless cases, Emma sees potential instead of trouble, which is a good message overall. Teens are often typecast at an early age, which can determine and influence the rest of their lives. Of course this doesn’t mean all teens are misunderstood, some of them aren’t interested in a second chance.
Bartlett manages to keep this story light and amusing, despite the serious topics she has woven into the fabric of this tale. She distracts the readers with bright noisy rattles, whilst introducing hardcore problems and bringing them to the table. It almost seems like an accidental plot at times, but of course this is just Bartlett doing what she does best.
It is a read I think many women will be able to identify with. Bartlett delivers realistic characters with a big helping of reality, and yet she balances the fun, the chaos and the more serious side of things with the skill of a circus juggler.