I blooming love a Jo Thomas book so when asked to be part of a special blogger day to help to launch the paperback edition of Summer at the Ice Cream Cafe, I leaped at the chance. The vivid colours in the gorgeous cover just jump right off the page and make you want to jump right into the heart of the story.
About the book
A dream home
Beca Valentino is ready to escape the city. When she sees the perfect house for sale in her hometown, it seems like fate. Is this her chance to build the foster family she dreams of, on the beautiful Pembrokeshire coast?
A big mistake?
Returning home isn’t as easy as she thought, however. Her family’s beloved ice cream café is gone – turned into a soulless wine bar by her hateful ex-boyfriend. Reconnecting with her oldest friend, fisherman Griff, isn’t straightforward either. And when, instead of the children she expected to take in, two wary teenage boys appear on her doorstep, Beca fears she’s made a terrible mistake.
A recipe for change
But an old family recipe book is just the inspiration she needs. Soon, with a little help from friends old and new, Beca is selling mouth-watering homemade gelato from a pop-up café on the beach.
Then disaster strikes. Will the Valentino family legacy be lost forever? Or can Beca create a new recipe for happiness?
What did I think?
Jo should have her own TV show about cooking. I wish I lived nearer because I’m sure I would just pop along at dinner time hoping to be invited to stay and be fed. She does a fabulous Instagram food series which I would recommend to anyone to tantalise your taste buds. I challenge you not to lick your lips while watching.
Her love of food and cooking clearly transfers over into her writing and this is no exception. Her descriptions of food literally make you drool.
The book is about Beca who moves back to the beautiful Pembrokeshire coast from London and into her dream home and goes ahead with her dream to be a foster parent. Having had friends who have fostered, it was great to see that Jo writes about the topic, the relationships that are formed and the situations that people find themselves in realistically and with empathy for all concerned.
As always with Jo’s evocative writing, and I’ve been around with Jo and her books a few times you are immediately transported to the setting. Her sense of setting and community is second to none, she truly has a gift for carrying you off into another world that you want live in yourself. I have literally wanted to move to every place that she’s written about. The main characters she writes are always warm, realistic, genuine and people that you want to know and be friends with.
This really is a charming story about relationships, friendship and community and starting over and is one that I would highly recommend. And made all the better for me, that I read it while overlooking a beach in Wales to give it even more authenticity. An absolutely wonderful read that gave me all the feels. Five stars and more!
About the author
Before becoming a radio producer Jo Thomas started working life in an ice cream van, then as a waitress in the South of France before returning to the UK and selling dancing flowers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at Hamleys Toy Store in London. After Uni she worked for many years as a reporter and producer, including time at Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and Radio 2’s The Steve Wright Show.
Jo’s debut novel, The Oyster Catcher, was a runaway bestseller and won both the RNA Joan Hessayon Award and the Festival of Romance Best eBook Award. Her recent book Escape to the French Farmhouse was a #1 bestselling eBook and in every one of her novels Jo loves to explore new countries and discover the food produced there, both of which she thoroughly enjoys researching. Jo lives in Pembrokeshire with her husband and three children, where cooking and gathering around the kitchen table are a hugely important and fun part of their family life.