Christmas at The Cornish Cafe is the second in the Penwith trilogy which began with Summer at the Cornish Cafe. We return to Kilhallon where we find out how Cal and Demi’s new relationship is progressing. There wasn’t as much cafe as the title suggested in the first book but this is definitely put right in this book as Demi opens Demelza’s at the Kilhallon holiday resort. Cal and Demi are keeping their relationship quite quiet for now as they start to get to know each other better. The arrival of author Kit Bannen for a long term stay creates a few waves as he seems to flirt with everyone and it seems he may have something to hide.
This can be read as a standalone but I do recommend you read the first book so you can get to know the characters’ backgrounds. It has been a few months since I read the first book and I did find the beginning a bit confusing as I had forgotten bits of the storyline. However as I read on, the events of this story became much more important. If you are missing Poldark on tv then this is the book for you. References to the books (and tv series) abound and you will recognise lots of names. And I defy you to read without Aidan Turner in mind as you visualise Cal!
Unusually for a Christmas book, there is no snow. The weather, however, does play an important role in the book. Instead of frosty mornings, the author has written about the swirling fogs, the howling gales and the torrential rain which can affect Cornwall and shows the devastating effects on the community who are at the mercy of the forces of nature. The contrasts between the town during the Harbour Lights festival and a few days later after a raging storm are all too clear. The community pulled together to help those affected so close to Christmas and I think this is probably a very realistic portrayal of how people do come together when times are difficult.
Throughout this book we get a better insight into what Cal has gone through when he was an aid worker in Syria and how this has affected him and his ability to make relationships. Demi’s past also continues to affect her present. She often has little confidence in herself and her desirability and is forced to confront her complicated relationship with her father when she unexpectedly meets him again. Phillipa Ashley writes convincingly about how the past and trying to keep things buried deep within affects her characters.
The various plotlines came together at the end in a very satisfying and realistic way. As Demi says “Christmas is never perfect. Only a fool would expect it to be……. But Christmas at the Cornish cafe….. is as close to perfect as I ever dreamed.” There are still a few issues to be resolved for Cal and Demi and no doubt new adventures to be had at Kilhallon and I am looking forward to reading more about them when we return to the Cornish Cafe for the final part of the trilogy.
Phillipa has kindly shared a recipe for a very tasty sounding pumpkin pie, perhaps something Demi would serve up at Demelza’s?
Special pumpkin pie with Cornish clotted cream
From my daughter
425g can of Libby’s pumpkin puree
400g can of evaporated milk
170g granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon mixed spice (you can substitute with chai latte powder!)
Pastry (make your own or use a sheet of readymade shortcrust)
- Pre-heat the oven to 220C. Prepare the shortcrust to fit in a 10-inch loose-base pie dish, or very deep 8- or 9-inch pie dish. Leave plenty of excess pastry round the edges as it will shrink. Blind bake it for a few minutes to stop it going soggy. When the middle starts to rise, take it out – don’t let the edges brown.
- While you do this, mix the dry ingredients and eggs in a large bowl (easy to do by hand). Stir in the pumpkin puree and then gradually stir in the evaporated milk. Pour this mixture into your pie shell.
- Bake the pie in the oven at 220C for 15 mins. Then reduce the temperature to 180C. You can wrap foil around the top of it if the pastry is catching. Bake for 40 mins and add pecan halves round the edge to decorate. If a knife inserted near the centre comes out clean, it’s ready to serve, otherwise give it 10 more mins. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours or refrigerate (it will keep for 4 days in a plastic box in the fridge). Top with Cornish clotted cream to serve!
Yum – sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing that recipe Phillipa.
Thanks to the publishers for my copy via Netgalley. Christmas at the Cornish Cafe was published as an e-book by Avon (Maze) on 13th October. You can order a copy here: Christmas at the Cornish Cafe.
From the back of the book
The festive, feel-good follow-up to Summer at the Cornish Cafe.
Christmas will be slightly less turbulent than summer, won’t it? Demi certainly hopes so.
She and Cal are keeping their fledgling relationship under wraps for now. But then Kit Bannen, a hunky, blond – and somewhat mysterious – writer arrives at Kilhallon Resort, and not everyone is charmed. Cal is sure that Kit is hiding something. But is he the only one guarding a secret?
Demi is busy baking festive treats for the newly opened Demelza’s cafe, but when Cal’s ex Isla arrives to shoot scenes for her new drama, Demi can’t help but worry that things aren’t quite over between them. Kit flirts with both women, fuelling Cal’s suspicions that Kit has hidden motives for staying on at Kilhallon. Then Cal has to go to London, leaving Demi and Kit to decorate the cafe for Christmas . . . all by themselves.
A storm is brewing in more ways than one. As surprises unfold and truths are uncovered, can Demi and Cal finally open up to each other about their feelings?
This second novel in the bestselling Cornish Cafe series is the perfect book to curl up with this Christmas.