The Gingerbread Cafe – Anita Faulkner

Published By: Sphere
Pages: 368
Released On: 27/10/2022

The Gingerbread Café is always full of Christmas magic. Come rain or shine (or even a July heatwave), there’s always a hot chocolate bursting with cinnamon and marshmallows waiting for you. For introverted Gretel, it’s been the perfect escape from ‘real life’. The owner, Nell, is Gretel’s last link to her late mum, and hiding out at the café feels so much safer than making new friends.

So when Nell suddenly passes, Gretel is left heartbroken. Then she discovers that Nell has left the café to her – but there’s a catch. Gretel has to share the running of The Gingerbread Café with the least festive person ever: Nell’s nephew, Lukas. Head chef at the local fancy restaurant, Lukas makes it clear he has no time for the café, Gretel or even Christmas itself, and Gretel’s too busy struggling to save her burnt batches of gingerbread to work out why.

Gretel is determined to keep Christmas alive and make the café a success before Lukas hands the keys over to the scrooge-like developers. But she can’t do it alone; besides an over friendly ferret and a waitress with a secret, the only person she has now is Lukas. Will it take a Christmas miracle to get the pair to finally see eye to eye, or could the ice already be melting?

*****

Thanks to NetGalley and Sphere for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.

If you’re starting to look for new books this festive season, you could look no further than Anita Faulkner’s latest offering.

It’s so warming and cosy and full of joy and love and happiness and, of course, Christmassyness. It just screams Christmas. Simply gorgeous.

The idea of running an all-year Christmas cafe sounds idyllic to me. For someone who loves Christmas and loves baking, it’s a winner. Granted, I can bake a darn sight better than Gretel and I especially love baking Christmas food, but I love Gretel’s enthusiasm and passion for getting it right. I disliked Lukas at first, he was really grating and instantly unlikeable (which I assume Anita was aiming for) but he quickly became a dream of a character.

I was a big fan of Angel Gabriel, Gretel’s pet ferret. I don’t know why, as his character didn’t contribute much to the story as such, but he sounded so cute and fluffy. I just wanted to be curled up, with a mug of spiced hot chocolate, a freshly baked gingerbread man and a cuddly ferret.

I loved the development of Gretel and Lukas’ relationship. In these type of happily-ever-after books (which are quickly becoming my favourite genre), you know everything will end up okay but you love to see the journey there, and their journey just felt really natural and hopeful.

It was a bit of a slow burner for me, with characters and plot points starting up, but once I had fallen in love with it, I fell hard.

I’ve never felt so warm when reading a book. The sounds and smells and tastes just evoke Christmas and love and friendship and family.

I adored Anita’s debut book, A Colourful Country Escape, and I can see her improving with each work and I can’t wait to follow her career.

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