RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: The Second Chance Cafe by Alison Kent

B

Title: The Second Chance Cafe
Author: Alison Kent
Publication Info: Montlake Romance March 2013
ISBN: 978-1611097894
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book The Second Chance Cafe This RITA® Reader Challenge 2014 review was written by Gleecady. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Contemporary Romance category.

The summary:

Growing up, Kaylie Flynn was shuffled from foster home to foster home before being welcomed into Winton and May Wise’s family. It was May who taught Kaylie the comfort of home, and the healing power of baking the perfect brownie. Years later, May leaves Kaylie the money she needs to open her own café in the charming Victorian house they once shared. Now back in Hope Springs, Kaylie’s determined to finally make all her dreams a reality—and unearth answers to lingering questions about her past.

Soon, however, Kaylie’s carefully laid plans take an unexpected turn. The house needs far more work than she realized, and Tennessee Keller, the carpenter Kaylie hires, is proving to be a very handsome and very unneeded distraction from her quest to uncover the truth about her parents. When a crisis threatens to destroy everything she’s worked so hard to build, Kaylie must decide where her heart lies: with the ghosts of her past or the love and promise of her future.

And here is Gleecady's review:

I’m an Alison Kent fan.  She writes interesting stuff very well and in a way that doesn’t make you say “Oooh, look at the superbly crafted sentence,” but the sentences are crafted well anyway.

This book is the first of at least three (Book 2: Beneath the Patchwork Moon is out now and Book 3: The Sweetness of Honey is due out in the Fall of 2014).  As the first of the trilogy, there must be setup.  There must be introduction of characters for the reader to care about in this and the subsequent books.  And they are there. 

With the small town setting, there must be charming places to meet and greet the friends.  Those are there.  The setting needs to be a “real” place that even those of us who have never visited the Edwards Plateau of Texas can imagine.  That’s there, too, and not in a travelogue-y way so you don’t get bogged down in Texas geology or botany… but you do get a sense of place.

From the title, one might assume that the Second Chance is a second chance romance where the H/H have been together in the past, something happens, they part, and now they come together again.  That doesn’t happen here.  Our H/H meet for the first time early in the book and spend time figuring out that they are important to one another. There is no delicious banter. 

This book is about brownies (fabulous recipes; I am sure you will want to bake them all, every damn one, whether or not you like anything else about the book).  It’s also about rehab/remodels and the things that can happen when you try it on an older home.  (Have any of you started watching HGTV’s Fixer Upper?  The house in this book could appear on that program with ease.) And finally, this book is about meeting the past (there are horrible pasts) and moving forward.  Growing up. 

I think how one perceives the story will be influenced by where you are in your own life.  Younger folks, I suspect, will find it too angst-y and some of the bad stuff unlikely.  Those of us who are older know folks who have suffered ridiculously bad things and we want to cheer for the advice given by our heroine’s no-longer-with-us foster mom – No, she’s not a ghost, but a good memory – to look forward not back.  But people who don’t know where they came from want to know.  They want all those newspaper article questions answered:  who, what, where, how, and particularly why?  Why me, why was I abandoned, why was I so inadequate?  Those questions.  And the answers are hard for our heroine to discover and hard to learn. 

Our hero spends time beating himself up, too, over his own perceived inadequacies. But he’s a caregiver in a very manly alpha way, so he protects our heroine to the best of his ability.  She, of course, pushes back, as she needs to be independent. The whole story demonstrates that some people (the parents of our couple) ought not to have children.  Not our H/H.  I think they’ll do a great job.

So, even though this is a romance and has the approved HEA, getting there may require a hanky or two and an appreciation that sometimes life just sucks.  On the other hand, the dog is very sane and quite wonderful.  I really liked book two and will certainly buy book three.   And I still want to know why the bell in the Second Baptist Church no longer rings from the steeple.


This book is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Francesca says:

    Thanks for the review. This one pushes several of my catnip buttons: brownie recipes, fixer-uppers and thoughtful, mature characters.

    The excerpt on Amazon tempted me, but I have 16 people coming for dinner tonight. Must resist urge to click…

  2. 2
    donna marie says:

    But @Francesca, you could use one of the brownie recipes for dessert! Justified.

    And since I’m always up for new brownie recipes, have intentions to remodel my kitchen and it is pouring outside, excuse me while I go click. Thanks Gleecady! That’s from me, not my debit card. My debit card is doing this :O

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