It’s a real delight today to join the blog blitz and share my review of The Bistro by Watersmeet Bridge by Julie Stock, published for kindle on 6th August, and available via Amazon in the UK and US (also available in paperback). My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the author for the advance reading e-copy.
I’ve always been aware of Julie’s books, but have never before managed to add one to my reading list. But back in May, I had the immense pleasure to hear her speak at the Deepings Literary Festival, and was so impressed by her professionalism and passion for writing – goodness, I almost came away wanting to knuckle down and write a book of my own (it’s ok – it passed!). She told her audience all about her inspiration for this lovely book, and how she turned it into a story – and did I mention she was also thoroughly lovely (as indeed was her mum, who I sat beside!)? So when Rachel got in touch about the tour, the timing really couldn’t have been any better…
When Olivia goes to manage Finn’s failing bistro, will they end up sharing a table for two, or will it be a recipe for disaster?
Olivia Fuller longs to manage one of the restaurants in her father’s chain and to break free to live the independent life she’s wanted for so long. When her father finally puts his trust in her and sends her to a failing restaurant in Devon, she’s confident she can prove herself capable of doing the job.
Finn Anderson is about to lose his beloved seaside bistro, unless the bank can find a buyer to dig him out. When George Fuller offers Finn a deal, he has no choice but to accept if he wants any chance of getting his bistro back one day. And then the new manager arrives…
Even after meeting the prickly chef and discovering his complete lack of business skills, Olivia is confident she can turn the struggling business round. But as Olivia and Finn start working together, a mutual attraction develops between them, and soon, nothing is going according to Olivia’s plan.
When there’s a real chance that the bistro might be sold off, Olivia and Finn determine to fight for it, united by their hard work and their growing feelings for each other. But can they save the bistro and be together, or does destiny have a different path in mind?
A feel-good contemporary romance set in a bistro beside the sea in Devon.
This book really was everything I hoped it would be – in fact, perhaps rather more. Olivia has rather been set up to fail when she arrives at the struggling Devon bistro, especially when she finds the chef and former owner is still to be part of the business she needs to fight to save. She’s such a likeable character – brisk, business-like and confident on the surface, but beneath it all insecure and slightly terrified.
And I really liked the insights into Finn’s character too: the story is told from both their perspectives, and sharing their thoughts, feelings and some of their personal history had me cheering them both on at every turn. There’s a convincing romance that develops from the shakiest beginnings as they take on the world, shoulder to shoulder, and with a rather lovely mutual respect.
I liked the focus on family relationships with Olivia and her father, and the way that thread was developed – unexpected, but rather nicely done. There’s a really strong sense of place, a well described setting – the bistro itself, Lynford and its surroundings – and a community of well-drawn individuals pulling together against every opposition. All the corporate shenanigans – complicated further by past relationships, both working and personal – are very well done: the “baddies” who threaten their future are perhaps a tad less three-dimensional, but I thought that actually worked rather well.
With its bistro setting, this book will – of course – particularly appeal to foodies everywhere. I loved all the small details – the chairs, the laying of the tables, the menus, Finn’s care of the kitchen – and particularly the special evenings they planned. And the samphire – that was the most perfect touch.
The writing is excellent – easy reading, and with an immense warmth. And everything is so perfectly paced, with a nice touch of unpredictability when the hurdles and potholes make it appear the chances of a happy ending are slipping away. I’ll look forward to reading more from this author – she really does write the kind of books that I enjoy.
With thanks to Julie and Rachel, I’m delighted to offer one lucky reader (UK only) the chance to win a signed copy of The Bistro by Watersmeet Bridge plus a few more goodies – a notebook, a postcard magnet and a bookmark (all with the front cover image) and a bag of Devon fudge.
Here’s the rafflecopter for entry:
Terms and Conditions UK entries welcome. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
About the author
Julie Stock writes contemporary feel-good romance from around the world: novels, novellas and short stories. She published her debut novel, From Here to Nashville, in February 2015 and her second novel, The Vineyard in Alsace in March 2017. Over You (Sam’s Story) and Finding You (Jenna’s Story), her follow-up novellas to From Here to Nashville were published in 2018, making the From Here to You series complete.
She has also published a boxed set of the From Here to You trilogy of books. Julie’s next novel, The Bistro by Watersmeet Bridge, was published on 6th August.
If you’d like to sign up to her newsletter list, you can do so here: as a thank you, you’ll be able to download Before You, the prequel story to the From Here to You series, for free.
Julie is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Society of Authors.
When she is not writing, she works in communications. She is married and lives with her family in Bedfordshire in the UK.