Escape to the Art Cafe by Sue McDonagh #bookreview @ChocLitUK @SueMcDonaghLit

Escape to the Art Cafe is the third book by Sue McDonagh set in the beautiful Gower peninsula in Wales and featuring the Art Cafe. You don’t need to have read the other two books to enjoy this one – although I would recommend it anyway as they are lovely books. Each book is a standalone featuring different main characters. It was lovely though to see characters from the previous books popping up every now and again. That beautiful front cover was painted by the author who obviously has many talents as she also crocheted the blanket which features on the cover!

Flora, it’s fair to say, has had a bad day. Her creep of a boss goes too far, and she quits her hairdressing job. Arriving home early, she finds her boyfriend, who she’d thought might be about to propose, in bed with another woman! Devastated she heads off to her mother’s holiday cottage in Wales, the location for many happy childhood holidays, on her boyfriend’s powerful and expensive motorbike. And so she spends her 30th birthday alone, surfing. When she gets into difficulties she is rescued by handsome lifeguard Jake, recently returned from travelling in Australia and working in his grandparents’ hotel.

Both Flora and Jake could be rather prickly characters but they both had things in their past which made them that way. I so enjoyed reading about them ever so gradually getting to know each other and learn more about each other. Although the attraction between them was clear from the outset, they didn’t immediately act upon it and there was a really natural feel to their developing friendship.

There were more than a few intriguing parts of the story too. Why did Jake’s gran Molly have something against bikers and what did she have against The Art Café? What would happen when Flora’s secret mission came to light – I must admit I was dreading that part! The Art Cafe is not so much a focal point of the story in this book as in the previous two but does play a significant part and there are some rather dramatic scenes which take place there.

Both Jake and Flora have very interesting pasts and more than a few secrets are being kept by several members of their families. There is lots about the biking community and how welcoming and friendly, though sometimes misunderstood it is. Surfing features in this book too and cooking and hairdressing. Somehow, the author brings all these seemingly unconnected ideas together in a very satisfying read. Community is a very important theme throughout the book with the hotel being a focal point for many community activities. I very much enjoyed my Escape to the Art Cafe.

My thanks to Liz at ChocLit for my review copy of the book. Escape to the Art Cafe is available from 30th June as an ebook. You find buying options for various ebook retailers on the ChocLit website here: Escape to the Art Cafe

From the back of the book

Heartbreak and cake at the Art Café …
It was meant to be the perfect romantic holiday. But then Flora Bexton’s boyfriend does the unthinkable, and she responds in the only logical way: she steals his motorbike and escapes for a holiday by herself on the Welsh coast.

Far from the lonely trip she imagined, Flora soon finds comfort at the friendly local Art Café where the legendary hot chocolate and cake help to ease her troubled mind. And when Aussie-Welsh lifeguard Jake Foley steps in just when Flora needs help the most, she realises that her ‘holiday’ feels
more like home with every passing day …

About the Author – in her own words

Sue McDonagh

Arty, biking, writing granny, that’s me! Living on the Welsh coast, right at the bottom before it plops into the sea, I was a policewoman in Essex before I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at a very early age.


Thanks to my amazing family and friends, I made a full recovery, left the police, met the man I then married and went to live in semi-rural Wales – well, I thought it was semi-rural after living in Essex. I mean, you had to drive fifteen miles to get to a Marks and Sparks. Where on earth did people buy their underwear? It was a small town that thought it was a village. But it had a beach.


I fell in love with it, along with the two adorable little boys I inherited. They inspired my passion for painting children, and they and their children inform the young characters in my books and subsequent career change as portrait painter. I even appeared on Sky’s Portrait Artist of the Year!

The beach formed a huge part of my life, and I trained as a beach lifeguard, patrolling the beach and competing on the single ski. That all stopped when I needed a hip replacement and found carrying equipment too painful. Not to be outdone, I and three pals did a 45 mile walk and raised over £10,000 for Cancer Research, and not long after that, I decided I’d learn to ride a motorbike.

That was a huge and entertaining learning curve, and inspired my debut novel, Summer at the Art Cafe. I’m on my second hip now, still riding my 1000cc red Honda, and I’ve made some of my most enduring friendships through biking.


I hope you enjoy reading about my characters and their stories. Some of my life has inevitably given birth to some of theirs, but their personalities are all their own, and I keep expecting to see them in the local supermarket or on the beach!


2 thoughts on “Escape to the Art Cafe by Sue McDonagh #bookreview @ChocLitUK @SueMcDonaghLit

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