All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Cafe By The Bridge by Lily Malone

on August 21, 2020

The Cafe By The Bridge (Chalk Hill #2)
Lily Malone
Harlequin MIRA AUS
2019, 320p
Read from my local library

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

Child psychologist Taylor Woods needs a man. Flashy restaurateur Abel Honeychurch to be specific. Abe can help her get justice for her brother, Will. Taylor knows Abe, too, was scammed by the same woman who broke her brother’s heart and stole everything in his pockets.

But bringing a lying, cheating scammer to justice isn’t easy when all Abe wants to do is forget the whole sorry saga. He’s returned to his home town of Chalk Hill to lick his wounds and repay his debts, renovating his nanna’s house and opening the Chalk ‘n’ Cheese cafe.

He’s miserable. And it would be easier to stay miserable if everyone else around him wasn’t so darn cheerful. It’s wildflower season in Chalk Hill with a cafe full of upbeat bushwalkers, and it’s all Abe can do to remember to put sugar, not salt, in his customers’ cappuccinos. He definitely has no time for the mysterious red–headed guest who admires his cheesecake and adores his flat white.

Taylor’s mission to help her brother seems doomed – how will she gain the trust of a man whose every instinct tells him never to trust a woman again?

This is the second in a trilogy focusing on three brothers finding love in the small Western Australian town of Chalk Hill, where they all grew up. The first brother had always remained within the town but both Abel from this book and also the brother from the third book have spread their wings and moved on. Abel in fact, couldn’t wait to leave. He’d never had an easy relationship with his father and when he got his driver’s license, he left Chalk Hill behind. He made his career as a chef, owning a restaurant in Perth but the first book detailed Abel having to sell that restaurant and return to Chalk Hill, where he began converting their grandmother’s house into a cafe. Now the cafe is up and running and there’s a young woman definitely not from Chalk Hill who has been a regular.

Taylor wants to talk to Abel – she thinks that he might be the key to helping her brother. After all, the two of them have something in common. In the first book, the reason for Abel’s returning to Chalk Hill was revealed – he’d fallen in love with a woman who was using him and scamming him, whom he gave money to only to discover that he wasn’t the only person she ‘loved’ or was doing this to. For Abel now, he just wants to forget it ever happened – but Taylor’s questions force him to relive it all. And after what happened to him, Abel has severe trust issues and it’s going to take something (or someone) really special to help him get over that.

I really enjoyed this – it’s builds on the first book but it’s also its own story. Abel has been badly scarred by what happened to him and he’s not in the best of places. He’s a bit bitter and deeply deeply distrustful of people, especially women. This sometimes bleeds into his work and every day life. Taylor is a child psychologist who watched her brother fall prey to the same woman that Abel did and it’s her idea that Abel needs to confront what happened, deal with it and move on, otherwise he’ll be stuck in the same mindframe of being angry and that will mean he will struggle with a lot of things especially forming relationships with people even just in every day life. Her methods are unusual but she ends up really connecting with Abel and there’s quite an attraction that simmers between them.

I liked Taylor and her determination to not only protect her brother but also to sort of encourage him (and also Abel) to try and get back what they are owed, so that the person who wronged them doesn’t continue to get away with it with no consequences whatsoever. Neither Taylor’s brother nor Abel are keen on this idea, for very different reasons and I found this part of the story really interesting. You don’t always think of young men being taken in by love scams – in this case, the woman used their feelings to extract money from them, presumably for necessary things like braces for her young daughter. However that’s not what the money was going on and she also kept them bound to her in other ways or formed elaborate stories to discourage them from seeking restitution once they realised that they had been played. Taylor is like this private detective, going undercover sometimes and trying to find information, dig to get to the bottom of what is really going on in several different ways. She’s older than Abel, she’s in her early thirties and he’s only in his mid twenties I think, and that shows at times. Abel is still reacting like a wounded animal, lashing out a lot. He’s suffering like a stress reaction to what happened and there are still things that trigger a reaction in him, which he needs to learn to deal with. At times Abel felt quite immature, which well, he’s still quite young and things have happened to him that have shaped this mindset I think but during the story he gets some answers to questions he’s probably always had about himself and his life and I think that will definitely give him more peace of mind going forward, help him be more settled in himself.

This was a really nice second instalment and it also helped set up the third book, in the way that the first book gave the reader a bit of a leg up going into this book and now I’m really looking forward to finishing the trilogy.


Book #164 of 2020

The Cafe By The Bridge is book #59 of The Australian Women Writers Challenge 2020


3 responses to “Review: The Cafe By The Bridge by Lily Malone

  1. Lily Malone says:

    aww wonderful – I’m glad you enjoyed Taylor and Abe. I love these two 🙂

  2. Mic says:

    I did love this book. I really must get to the Bridge…. it’s on my desk somewhere.

  3. Marg says:

    I can’t wait to hear what you think of the third book!

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