Not part of a blog tour today, just a book I read because I really wanted to! I’m delighted today to share my review of the second book from Annette Hannah, The Cosy Little Cupcake Van, published for kindle by Orion Dash on 22nd March. The copy I read was my own – preordered from Amazon as soon as I saw that gorgeous cover when I helped with the cover reveal.
Last year, I was totally blown away by Annette’s first book, Wedding Bells at the Signal Box Café – romantic comedy at its very best, the loveliest story, and with real confidence and fluency to the writing. I had absolutely no hesitation in including it in my 2020 Books of the Year list. People often say that the second book is sometimes the most difficult to write… but certainly not for this very talented lady…
A deliciously feelgood romance, perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley, Ali McNamara and Rebecca Raisin!
Camilla’s delicious cakes are the talk of her village. If you need a perfectly iced mouthful of joy, Camilla “Cupcake” is your woman. But after losing her mother, she finds her home and her business in jeopardy. She needs a little helping hand…
Thankfully her friends are always there for her, and when she is given an old ice cream van, Camilla’s dream of a cupcake delivery service is born. Now she can bring happiness – and buttercream frosting – to the whole town.
But when her ex Blake appears back on her doorstep, Camilla must decide if she can trust him again or if her heart might belong to someone else…
Bursting with romance and sprinkled with humour, this is a deliciously feel-good story about one woman putting her life back together, one cupcake at a time.
Camilla’s life has fallen apart – at the high point of her cake-making career as she reaches the final challenge of The Wedding Cakeathon, she unexpectedly – and particularly cruelly – suffers the loss of her mother. And as if that’s not enough, she also loses her home, her boyfriend, her car, her cake-making business, and every bit of confidence she ever had. On top of that, she’s also broke – all her savings have gone in an attempt to fight the way her mother’s partner walked away with the legacy that should have been hers.
But when she’s at an all-time low, she discovers the true power of friendship as everyone around her pulls together to help her get back on her feet. If you read the first book, the lovely community of Bramblewood and many of those friends will be very familiar – but if you didn’t, it won’t matter one bit, you’ll soon find your way around the town and get to know them all really well. I’ll happily admit that the many acts of kindness and the warmth of the support really did make me rather tearful.
Things really turn around for her when former customer Ron offers to help her out with some transport – in his yard, she comes across a dilapidated ice cream van and sees a way, with the help of her friends, of getting back into business. The early part of the book is sad, of course, and so it should be – but when Camilla’s idea takes wings, this book really does become an absolute joy. I used to have a bit of an aversion to cupcakes (in books – unfortunately not in real life), but I was more than happy to inhale the scent of baking and icing sugar in the air, read about the many different swirls and flourishes she added to her creations in every conceivable flavour combination, excited as she gradually reversed her fortunes while triumphantly playing a blast of Teddy Bears’ Picnic on the tannoy as she delivered her cupcake creations to her increasingly eager customers.
There are new friends too – especially the lovely Ged from the coffee van. He’s a bit of a free spirit, with a lovely twinkle, and the potential to be a romantic interest – but he also reminds her how close she came to being both homeless and penniless, with a few lovely opportunities for Camilla to “pay it back” for those who aren’t fortunate enough to have the same support network. But on the romantic front, there’s also Blake – the former love of her life, they were driven apart by their family circumstances and the challenge of distance. But he’s back from Canada, more gorgeous than he ever was, making Camilla’s heart beat rather faster – but might he not be quite what he seems?
I must mention Auntie Edie, her mother’s neighbour, and now a source of support for Camilla too – everyone should have an Auntie Edie, with her absence of filter and her sage advice. And she has parrots – the Liverbirds – who help to add some of the loveliest touches of humour. Humour’s something this book certainly isn’t short of, but all perfectly judged and woven into the story. I really want to tell you about one wonderful scene at the Signal Box Cafe… but I won’t, I’ll let you discover it yourself!
This is a book that has a bit of everything I love – romance, strong friendship, a few misunderstandings, the ups and downs of life – and a perfect message that it’s really people that bring true happiness. It’s uplifting, heartwarming – and I thought it was absolutely gorgeous in every way. When I reviewed the author’s debut last year, I talked about its touch of real magic and declared it “one of my favourites this year”. Believe it or not, this one was even better… I loved every single moment.
Not for the review, but I think I really must mention why I’m not part of the ongoing blog tour. Given the fairly recent loss of my own mum, Annette worried that I might find the early part of the book difficult to read, and didn’t want to put me under pressure to review it. But Camilla’s response to her mother’s loss and the grief she felt were so well handled – this is a book filled with love, special memories and moments, which was entirely appropriate and something I thoroughly enjoyed. But thank you so much, Annette, for your consideration – not just a brilliant author, but a friend and very lovely lady too.
About the author
Annette Hannah is a Liver Bird who relocated to leafy Hertfordshire in the 80’s and now lives near a river with her husband, two of their three grown up children and a crazy black cocker spaniel. She writes Romantic comedies in settings inspired by the beautiful countryside around her and always with a nod to her hometown.
She worked in Marketing for many years as a qualified Marketeer which she loved as it tapped into her creative side. As an avid reader, she began to review the books she read, became a book blogger and eventually plucked up the courage to fulfil her lifelong dream of writing a book.
For four years she was a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s new writers’ scheme, during which time she wrote a book a year. After signing a two book deal with Orion Dash in 2020 she graduated to full member of the organisation and is also their Press Officer.
She loves long walks along the river, travelling to far flung places and spending time with her friends and family.