Sunday Book Club: Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

I am the perfect person to sell series of books to – if I liked the first series, I will almost definitely purchase any follow-up books. That doesn’t turn out well most of the time because the second book is never as great as the first, but I never learn. I got the Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe, at US$1.99 on Kindle, after enjoying the first, which is the Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe (as reviewed earlier).

This time round – at least I’m reading a book that’s more in line with the current season, rather than another Summer book. This book is supposed to be a “cosy Christmas romance”, to quote the Amazon page.

**This part of the review consist of Spoilers

Becca is spending December with her widowed sister Laura and Laura’s two children, Lizzie and Nate. She hates Christmas – she’s just like the Grinch and unusually grumpy during the festive season, but she can’t wait to spend time with her niece and nephew again, and also see the famous Comfort Food Cafe that has ‘saved’ Laura from her pain after David’s death and taught her how to live and be happy again.

Becca has always hated Christmas, and for most of the book, there’s a hint of a reason – finally, after much hinting through the book, it turns out that she had a miscarriage as a teenager after being dumped by her then-boyfriend, whom she had thought was the love of her life and would be overjoyed by the idea of setting up home with her, and had to go for a procedure during the Christmas period to sort it out, all alone and in secret.

At the Comfort Food Cafe, Laura tries to match-make her with Sam, who is gorgeous. But Becca is off the market because she is filled with self-loathe and thinks that she’s not worth it. She is trying to change her life – so she’s sworn off her old ways of drinking, casual sex and smoking. Finally, one night Sam climbs into her hotel room, where they’re having Cherie’s (the owner of the Comfort Food Cafe) hen night, and they have lots of sex.

They continue to have sex, but Becca remains distant and they try to keep it casual. Sam left the day before Christmas, and Becca feels sick on Christmas day so she skips off home where she finds out that she’s pregnant with Sam’s child. She’s back in Manchester, but somehow Sam turns up at her doorstep and finds out that she’s pregnant, and unlike her ex-boyfriend-of-teenage-years, he wants to keep the child, so they live happily ever after.

Final Thoughts

Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe was a complete letdown for me, especially after enjoying the first book. The story plods on, and was a complete and utter pain to read. Half of the book is filled with sad self-loathe with a tiny hint that there was a reason behind that, and it was very annoying. In the end, it was the result of a very lame reason, to me at least. Sorry, but I’ve never been pregnant and miscarried at 16, nor have I thought any boy was going to be the love of my life at that age, so it’s very difficult for me to relate to – I can’t see how that would lead to a lifetime of self-loathing and it’s not a healthy book.

Becca is not an easy to like protagonist. She sounds awful, much like someone in my family to be honest (who coincidentally also have a similar life story as Becca, minus all that self-loathing). Apparently Becca loves her family, so that’s one saving grace but that’s all because all she does is mope about how she is unable to love. She’s miserable, but then again, so is the book; I’m also very miserable about how many times the words miserable and misery, or grumpy and depressed, is written in the book. The ending – her getting pregnant again with Sam’s child, was a completely annoying ending. It’s very fake and very forced.

It’s definitely not the romance story that it claims to be. There’s way too much of – “I’m still hurting inside and I can’t be with another person until I love myself”. To quote a phrase from the book: “Sam, I’m a disaster area. You already knew that. It’s not like you weren’t warned. I’m not the sort of person your mother and sisters would want you to settle down with…”. Seriously, over 70% of the book sounds like that. In all its moping, I-am-too-damaged-to-love tone. The only person I felt sorry for was myself, for having read this piece of crap.

Highly recommended to STAY AWAY. It’s a very depressing book, one that goes on and on about a lack of self love; it’s also very unrealistic to me. The conversations between characters is just out of this world ridiculous; I found it hard to imagine this was written by the same author as the one who wrote Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe. It’s drags along, like a dead sack of potatoes. I had to force myself to finish the book, because I cannot let a book go unread but I hope that I can spare another person from this pain.

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