Sunday Book Club: Coming Home to the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

So you’d think that I would learn my lesson after the last book not to get another one from Debbie Johnson, but in all fairness I actually bought this alongside the last book so I had no idea that I would hate the last one – which is Cold Feet at Christmas – so much. Plus I have already read two other books in the “Comfort Food Cafe”, so why not another? I read this around Christmas, which is when I prefer reading utterly mindless and fluffy chick lit.

This book Coming Home to the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson was US$3.99, which means I must have been in some sort of stupor to have clicked on it since I usually only buy chick lit when they cost US$1-US$2. That’s the problem with Kindle – they make it so easy to purchase a book without thought and before you know it, there are a dozen books in the library that I don’t even remember purchasing! But it’s still really cheap.

Anyway, being part of the “Comfort Food Cafe” series, this is set out in the Comfort Food Cafe, and is meant to have themes of spiritual healing. Right off, I would say that it is better than Cold Feet at Christmas by a long mile, but that doesn’t mean it is a good book. When I read books like this, I go in with an understanding that it is chick lit so I am not expecting classic literature and not reviewing it as such. As it is, it is a rather readable chick lit.

**This part of the review consist of Spoilers

When her best friend dies of breast cancer, the single and responsibility-free Zoe’s suddenly made guardian to Kate’s 16-year-old daughter, Martha. Even though she has been there to help raise Martha since the day she was born as Martha’s a product of a one-night-stand during a backpacking adventure, things are not going well. Zoe never had a great childhood herself and is overwhelmed with Martha drinking and taking drugs to deal with the pain.

Zoe decided to move both of them to the little village of Budbury to help them heal. She barely steps foot into the village before she meets the rest of the community at the Comfort Food Cafe, who are quirky and weird, but she also soon realizes that they are also always there to provide listening ears, good advice and fantastic food.

One day, Martha’s really hot and previously-absent father, Cal, suddenly turns up from Australia. Kate and Cal had Martha when they were really young, and he wasn’t ready to take up the responsibility and neither did Kate wanted him to. But now, Cal is ready and wants to do what he can for Martha now. Martha takes to him easily, while Zoe feels confused about it – both in terms of her blossoming love for him, as well as her status in Martha’s life now that her father is back. Martha, as any teenager – who is headstrong but angry at the world because she lost her mum – slowly finds herself and begins to heal with the care of the residents at the Comfort Food Cafe and her newly reunited father.

One day, Zoe overhears Martha and Cal discussing a flight home, which she misunderstands as Martha and Cal leaving her behind. She runs away back home but Martha and Cal finds her and explains that they are indeed going back to Australia, but only so that Cal can sort out his life, say goodbye to his parents, and move to Budbury to live with them. So all’s well that ends well and they have a happily ever after.

Final Thoughts

I don’t love this book, but I don’t hate it either. This is the third book in the “Comfort Food Cafe” series that I’ve read and this ranks 2nd for me – I liked the first book the most, while Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe was the worst. This was readable and sits comfortably in the chick lit spectrum – nothing too deep, lots of girly emotions, and a happy ending.

I think the characters are nice – we have our usual cast who are already at Comfort Food Cafe, if you’ve read the previous books. The new leads – Zoe, Martha and Cal – are people who seem a lot more real than in other Debbie Johnson’s books. For once, they are actually realistic and somewhat likeable, and did not sound entirely brainless. I like the easy friendships and love in the book, and it feels rather heartwarming.

The basic story is very predictable, but like I said it is chick lit and there is a formula that works in this genre – and the author doesn’t stray far from it. It’s your typical girl meets boy, they fall in love but try to deny it, but eventually they get together and then there’s the happily ever after. I went into the book knowing full well that it is predictable but at least there was a plot that connected the beginning to the end in this – and it’s not too bad.

So if you’re looking for some light and easy heartwarming read, this isn’t too bad. The plot is predictable, which can sometimes be quite comforting when all you want is an easy read, and it has a happy ending for days t when you need one.

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