Christmas at the Gingerbread Café by Rebecca Raisin

In brief: A fun, jolly Christmas novella featuring Lily, owner of the Gingerbread Café, and Damon, the man who dares to set up in opposition.

The good: Can even put a Grinch like me into the holiday spirit.

The not-so-good: I want more please!

Why I chose it: eARC from Rebecca and Carina UK – thank you!

Year: 2013

Pages: 64

Publisher: Carina UK

Setting: Connecticut, USA

My rating: 9 out of 10

I can’t say that I’m the biggest fan of Christmas – maybe it’s that it’s generally too hot to eat and that I always seem to get stuck with the washing up – but this year I’m trying to make an effort. So when Rebecca Raisin asked me to read her debut novella, Christmas at the Gingerbread Café, I said yes. This was good thinking, as this sweet and funny novella is enough to turn lacklustre holiday spirit around!

The story opens with our heroine Lily; with her hand up a turkey’s bottom (she’s filling it with stuffing, no kinky business here). This made me laugh – it’s a completely realistic manoeuvre for a café owner to be doing, but it sets the tone for what is a down to earth romance. Enter CeeCee, Lily’s colleague and the one who provides both the majority of the laughs (Lily’s got a few issues) and the home truths. CeeCee’s the colleague you want at the desk next to you – she dispenses practical advice to Lily (even when she doesn’t want to hear it) and gently pushes her in the direction of Damon.

Damon’s the new store owner in Ashford. With a load of old family money behind him, it seems he can do no wrong. He’s directly opposite the Gingerbread Café – and directly in competition. This leads to several heated confrontations between him and Lily – the dialogue is well written, spiky and true to just what you would say if your business was in direct danger. Damon’s also a worthy hero – he’s delicious in looks and in nature!

Raisin not only excels in creating a festive mood – the tone of family and friends coming together is sweet – but also portrays a lovely winter wonderland setting, where things are covered in snow. This makes the book feel cosy and safe. It’s definitely an uplifting read.

Although things are fairly quickly resolved due to the length of the book, Christmas at the Gingerbread Café still contained surprises for me. The added bonus was the descriptions of the mouth-watering foods that Lily and CeeCee create.

A fun read, just perfect for the festive season.

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