Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe – Debbie Johnson – Extract

Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe

Definitely one of my favourite books this summer from the lovely Debbie Johnson,  I’m sharing my review again, now that the paperback has been released.

Blog Image- My review

Even at the story’s poignant beginning, the humour shines through, in the words of the enigmatic Laura, the heroine of this unusual story. I loved that we gathered all the necessary back story information, in letter form, as she answered a unique advertisement for a strange but intriguing, lifestyle job.

Laura is honest, loyal and has a lovely self -depreciating humour that is recognisable to most women, who have families, where they are the unappreciated lynchpin. The journey to their new adventure shares similarities, with most people’s long car journeys, with children and animals. The realistic dialogue and bordering on chaos scenarios made me giggle and reminiscence.

 Despite Laura’s fragile emotional state, a delightful sense of humour runs through this story. From the first meeting with the ‘Tall bloke.’ the visuals are great, so easy to imagine, especially ‘the flying undies as the top box is unpacked’.

The VIPS that make up the cafe regulars, all have a story to share as they reveal idiosyncrasies and secrets. Laura starts to heal as she listens to the cafe’s regulars stories and Matt (the tall bloke), help’s her discover the side of herself she never really knew existed.

This is a story of healing, family and being brave enough to dip your toe back in the pond again, after life’s unpredictable knocks. I would love to find this Cafe that restores your faith in human nature.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins in return for an honest review.

EXCERPT

‘I am feeling suddenly very tired and very sad. The absurdity of my situation flashes across my mind: I have uprooted my children, myself and my very elderly dog on some kind of wild-goose chase, pursuing God knows what. Happiness? Progress? A break from the underlying misery that seems to have been wrapped around my heart every day since David died?

Well, whatever it is, I’m not pursuing it fast enough – all I’m finding is exhaustion, grumpy kids, senile dogs and a caffeine overload. That and chronic embarrassment as I apologise to a mostly naked man, in the dark, in a place I’ve never even visited before – a place I’ve unilaterally decided to make our home for the summer.

I clench my eyes together very, very tightly, squeezing back any watery signs of self pity that might be tempted to overflow, and force myself to look at the man instead of the dog.

I can only see bits of his face reflected in the silvery lighting, but he looks about my age. Maybe a little older, I’m not sure. His hair is definitely a bit too long, and will probably dry a lighter shade of brown once it’s not soggy. His eyes seem to be hazel or brown or green, I can’t really tell, and he’s not smiling.

He was smiling when he was playing with Jimbo. But now he’s not. Now he’s looking at me. I guess I just have that effect on tall, handsome strangers.

’Are you all right?’ he asks, gruffly, frowning at me with such style and finesse that I instinctively know he frowns at least as much as he smiles. I suspect he’s one of those people who vastly prefers animals to people, and communicates much better with dogs than humans.

’Oh, yes, thank you… just tired. We’ve been driving all day and now we’ve got to find our cottage and unload the roofbox, and I don’t know how I’m going to do that because I didn’t bring the foot stool and I’m too short, and the kids need some dinner and I need some coffee… well, probably wine, to be honest, and…’

I catch a glimpse of his expression as I ramble incoherently, and note that he looks slightly frightened. I realise I sound like a crazy person and as I have the kind of hair that expands in heat and I’ve been stuck in a hot car all day, I undoubtedly look like one too.

’And yes, I’m fine, thank you,’ I say, firmly. ’Do you happen to know where the Hyacinth House is? I have the keys.’

’I can help you,’ he says, looking away from my eyes and gazing off into the distance. He sounds a little bit grumpy, a touch reluctant – as though he knows he should help, but doesn’t really want to engage.

’No, I’m all right…’ I insist, wondering how I’m going to get Jimbo off his feet without appearing rude.

’Let me help. I don’t have any wine, but I can help with the other thing.’

’What?’ I ask, staring up at him in confusion. ’You can help me stop being too short?’

Quick as a flash, a grin breaks out on his face and he lets out a laugh. It doesn’t last long and he seems to clamp down on it as soon as he can, like he’s not used to hearing the sound in public.

’Sorry, no. I’m a vet, not a miracle worker. But I can unpack the roofbox for you. I’ll get dressed and come round. Hyacinth is just back there – next to the swimming pool. This is the nearest you can get the car, but I’ll help you unload. I assume you’re Laura?’

I feel a jolt of surprise that he knows who I am and also a jolt of a stubborn desire to continue insisting that I don’t need any help at all. I settle for just nodding and giving him a half-hearted smile as he extricates his bare feet from underneath the snoring dog’s tummy.

’Thought so. In that case, if I know Cherie, she’ll have left wine in the cottage – so all your problems will be solved.’

Ha, I think, watching him disappear off up the path and noticing Lizzie still tapping away on her phone, face scrunched up in that very deliberate expression of vexed boredom that teenagers specialise in.

If only.’

Want to read more? Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson is just 99p on Amazon!

 

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Blurb 2016 -1


 Was Sarah’s husband’s death murder or suicide? She searches for answers while raising her young son alone in the sleepy seaside town of Siletz Bay.

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He offers to help Sarah unravel the mystery of what really happened to her husband.

Their friendship provides answers and a second chance at love for two people who’ve survived great loss.

 

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Author Bio 2016 -1

melissaheadshotMy great passions have always included reading and writing. When not engaged in one of those past times, I enjoy baking, walks and time spent with friends and family. I grew up in a small town and moved to L.A. after college. Adventures in that strange urban terrain inspired me to write my first novel, Dating Maggie.

 As a kid I have a vague recollection of creating “magazines” with a pencil and ruled notebook paper. I made family members buy copies for a quarter. I’ve been writing a variety of things since then: marketing copy, plays, short films and online content. I write-in a room of my own-under the clouds of the Pacific Northwest. Sometimes my husband and son pop in to check on me.

If you enjoyed this story, I’d be pleased as punch if you’d take a moment to leave me a review on Amazon and or Goodreads.

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 Jemma Bowers hasn’t kissed anyone in over a thousand days. She knows—she’s counted.

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Author Bio 2016 -1

 BK Rivers grew up riding through rolling fields of grain on horseback, driving hay trucks and catching frogs in a silver creek.  She traded country life for the big city when she married the love of her life, but the heart always returns to the country. BK, her husband and three children live in the Phoenix suburbs on their own mini farm surrounded by crowing roosters and the low nicker of horses.  When she’s not writing, she can be found baking anything sweet, in fact it’s been said her brownies are so good they save marriages. The inspiration for her novels comes in many forms, but mostly from her Gotye channel on Pandora. She writes young adult and new adult novels to the beat of Gotye, SnowPatrol and many others.

 

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When emotionally fragile Fleur Curwen decides she wants excitement in her boring life she signs up for a Murder Mystery Weekend in the wilds of the English Lake District. She enters a paranormal world where danger and death are common occurrences.

Demon slayer Lukas Draco is a loner. He lives by two simple rules: No emotional entanglements and duty must remain his first priority.His beliefs are challenged when he’s inexplicably drawn to Fleur, a human woman with an unusual psychic aura. Sparks of sexual attraction ignite threatening both his search for the dragon’s egg he buried a thousand years ago and Fleur’s life. Under the cover of a murder mystery weekend an apocalyptic hunt begins’
 

Excerpt

Fleur stole a sideways glance at Lukas as he conversed with Jasmine. His impressive physique exuded an aura of power personified by a fit, muscular body and long, lean limbs. Filled with suppressed sexual excitement, she half closed her eyelids, leaned back against the headrest, and continued her secret study of him. His face was the epitome of masculine beauty, characterized by well-defined angular cheekbones, covered with pale, almost translucent skin. Its apparent delicacy did not detract from his masculinity; he looked like a fallen angel. A tell-tale blush stained her cheeks rosy. A rush of heat pooled between her legs. Fleur shuddered. Shocked at her impulsiveness, she sat on her hands and admired the sleekness of his fashionable long, straight hair, which looked like silk. Neediness overpowered her cautious nature as her gaze feasted on its remarkable black color, reminiscent of an exotic bird or reptile with highlights of metallic turquoise and blue woven through it. Fleur stole another glance at Lukas from under her lashes. He stared back. Horrified, she blushed unable to avoid his inquisitive gaze. She waited for the smug look or the double entendre. Lukas’ smile hid a myriad of emotions. The fire in his heated look betrayed him, luminescent and golden, in stark contrast with the dying afternoon light.

Lukas slanted a glance at Fleur. The look of rapt absorption on her face stilled his breath. She looked at him hungrily, as if he was a delicacy she would love to taste. His blood echoed in his head as it thundered through his arteries. Arousal exploded in every inch of his body, highlighted by the uncomfortable tightness of his designer jeans, a testimony to his body’s readiness to act. He stopped talking in mid-sentence. Jasmine looked at him through the rear view mirror. His body leaned into Fleur’s, attuned to her hot gaze’s invitation. No. He couldn’t, not here or anywhere, with her. Lukas sensed the exact moment Fleur noticed him. He disguised all signs of his arousal. He hoped his expression revealed none of his inner turmoil.

The truck turned into a concealed driveway. Calmer, he resumed his light conversation with Jasmine, who didn’t remark on his recent distraction. Fleur stared through the window. Moments later, the truck stopped with a shudder. Lukas smiled at her hasty retreat. He sighed as the truck door shut behind her. His lack of control bothered him. His mission needed all his attention. A dalliance with a pretty human was not on his agenda. It would jeopardize the dragon egg’s safety.

“Welcome to Hallow House.”
Jasmine walked around the truck for their luggage. The grey, windswept house stood hidden among the hills. Paint peeled from the window frames and moss grew along the grey stone walls. A wave of coldness swept through Fleur. She shuddered. “It’s so atmospheric, perfect for a murder mystery.” She looked across at Lukas. He seemed preoccupied. A woman appeared at the house’s front door. Lukas’ face lost its shuttered look. He smiled.

“It’s lovely to meet you both. I’m Grace.”
“It’s lovely to meet you too,” Fleur smiled at the older woman, reassured by her kind smile.

“I’m delighted to meet you.”
Lukas shook Grace’s hand. Her gaze widened as their physic auras merged. Lukas controlled his response; his face remained devoid of expression. Jasmine frowned and touched her mother’s shoulder. With one last puzzled look at Lukas, she said,
“I’ll show you to your rooms. Afternoon tea is at three. The conservatory is at the back. You’ll have an opportunity to meet the other guests there.”
Lukas smiled. He sensed her interest and strength. They’d met once, years before. She owed him, and he needed her help now.

Fleur unpacked her bags in her shabby-chic room. Her mind strayed to Lukas’ surprising effect on her. Vivid recollections of his strong embrace and the hardness of his muscular body bombarded her. She splashed cold water on her face in an attempt to cool the burn from her inner heat. Why did she crave this man’s touch? Intimate images danced through her confused mind. She sprayed perfume on her heated skin. Nothing in her life prepared her for this tangle of conflicted emotions.

Perhaps she’d hidden away too long? She needed excitement. Her ex-lover didn’t understand her grief after the premature deaths of her much-loved parents. Instead, he chipped away at her self-esteem. Lukas saw through her layers of self-protection. He noticed her. The heat in his stare scorched her deep inside. She needed this man. She blushed at her wickedness. The alarm on her mobile sounded, almost three; time to go. She took a deep breath, determined to dampen her aroused state. With a final check of her appearance, she retrieved her bag and headed downstairs.

Fleur stood inside the conservatory until her eyes adjusted for the brightness. She walked further into the room and scanned the occupants for Lukas, but he wasn’t there. Disappointed, Fleur looked around the room. Jasmine’s companions drew her gaze. Something set the unusual men apart from the other people there. She saw a familiar face. Grace was deep in conversation with two of the older guests. She looked busy, so Fleur didn’t disturb her.

The designer-clad men recaptured her interest. The dark-haired man appeared fascinated with Jasmine. His face darkened as Jasmine interrupted his diatribe.

“You’ll have to excuse me. I need to welcome Fleur.”

Jasmine headed in her direction. Without Jasmine’s vivacity, the conversation between the two high-powered men lapsed into silence. The younger man looked bored and distracted. The delicate rose patterned china tea-cup appeared awkward in his large strong-boned hands. He ran his long fingers through his shaggy, platinum blond, almost silver, hair. It masked the paleness of his silver-colored eyes. He looked handsome. Fleur waited to see if her heart flipped. It didn’t. Her stomach lurched at the implications of her discovery. Her attraction to Lukas was based on something deeper than eye candy.

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