Sunday, 6 March 2016

Book Review - Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Cafe by Milly Johnson - RNA Awards Week

Amazon UK
Title: Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Cafe
Author: Milly Johnson
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 18th June 2015
Rating: 5 Stars

Love and friendship bloom at the Sunflower Café…

When Connie discovers that Jimmy Diamond, her husband of more than twenty years, is planning to leave her for his office junior, her world is turned upside down.

Determined to salvage her pride, she resolves to get her own back. Along with Della, Jimmy's right-hand woman at his cleaning firm, Diamond Shine, and the cleaners who meet at the Sunflower Café, she'll make him wish he had never underestimated her. 

Then Connie meets the charming Brandon Locke, a master chocolatier, whose kindness starts to melt her soul. Could he be her second chance at happiness? 

Can the ladies of the Sunflower Cafe help Connie scrub away the hurt? And can Brandon make her trust again?

With its fantastic cast of characters, multiple focuses, on various storyline, plots and interesting sub plots, all with some strong female leads, and barely a hint of romance in sight, Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Cafe is a heartwarming and inspiring story. 

It really is a story of friendship, between the most unlikeliest pairing of people. Connie has been married to Jimmy Diamond for over twenty years, so she isn't particularly happy to discover that he has been having many affairs during their marriage. 

Della is Jimmy's most trusted employee at Diamond Shine, the cleaning company he owns. What he doesn't know though is that she has been in love with him for many years, and when she discovers who his latest dalliance is with, she knows she can't carry on working with him.

Connie and Della between them plot a fabulous revenge, which is what the book is leading up to with a fabulous conclusion. In the meantime, we learn a lot more about the lives of various of the cleaners on Diamond Shines books, and Cheryl's story in particular is focused on. 

Cheryl is devastated to discover her man has cleared out her bank account and life savings, not for the first time, due to a gambling debt, and is determined to live life without him. She has a rollercoaster of a time during the book, but she was the character I loved the most. 

I loved the spirit and camaraderie displayed by the employees of Diamond Shine, and none of the ladies were willing to put up with poor conditions for much longer. They unbeknownst to management had monthly meetings at the Sunflower Cafe, to discuss various aspects of the job, and to compare notes on clients. 

Don't worry if you feel the start of the book is a bit on the slow side, it does pick up pace, especially once you have your head around the huge amounts of characters that you are introduced to , and work out how they interlink. The book around half way picked up speed for me, and from that point, I thought it was brilliant. 

I freely admit to being a huge Milly Johnson fan, and this is easily one of  her best books. It feels a bit grittier than some in the past, which may be that her writing is maturing. 

Congratulations to Milly Johnson on her nomination for the RoNA Romantic Comedy Novel. Which of these books did you love? Which do you think should win the award?

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