Title: Stirred with Love
Author: Marcie Steele
Publication Date: 3 September 2015
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Sometimes the best friends can be found where you least expect them …
Still grieving after the loss of her beloved husband, Lily Mortimer is determined to do something with the time she has left.
After the end of her fairytale marriage, thirty-something Kate is trying hard to mend her broken heart.
Chloe, a young woman with the world at her feet, is struggling to know what to do with her life.
When Lily embarks on a new venture in the picturesque town of Somerley, the three women come together to open The Coffee Stop, the most charming café for miles around.
But opening a coffee shop is never as simple as it seems, especially when you add neighbouring competition, local heart throbs and heartbreak to the mix.
When tragedy strikes, can the three women pull together to make the new business fly, or will Lily’s last chance disappear down the drain along with yesterday’s coffee grinds?
As comforting as a cappuccino and a better pick-me-up than a grande Americano, Stirred with Love will captivate readers of Milly Johnson, Carole Matthews and Jenny Colgan.
Thank you to Bookouture and NetGalley for providing me with a review copy of Stirred With Love.
Stirred With Love is crime writer, Mel Sherratt’s, first venture into the world of chick lit/women’s fiction and, let me tell you, she does it very well.
The story tells of three women, 32 year old Kate Bradshaw, 18 year old Chloe Ward and much older Lily Mortimer, coming together at crossroads in their lives and re-opening a coffee shop together. Kate is recently single and looking to move on with her life, Chloe is shortly due to start university but having doubts about her future plans and Lily is looking to re-open the coffee shop which she ran with her beloved husband, Bernard, prior to his death. The café requires a full overhaul before it is ready to open for business. As Kate and Chloe move to Somerley, the women live and work together over a period of several months whilst preparing the café for its opening day. The coffee shop quickly becomes a home and sanctuary for these three women.
The coffee shop provides a great background to the story. As we see the characters develop and grow out of their old selves and into their new confident identities, so we see the old, run down coffee shop develop into a bright and welcoming space.
In my opinion, the characterisation is one of the high points of this book. The protagonists are wonderfully warm and relatable. Despite their difference in ages and personalities, they quickly become close friends. The three women all possess their own unique qualities: Lily is wise and caring; Kate is sensible, mature, yet confused about her disintegrating marriage; Lily is fun and outgoing but in need of a bit of guidance. As with any close relationships, the women have their highs and lows, however they are there for each other when needed.
For me, Kate seemed to be the main protagonist. She feels unfulfilled in her marriage to Nick and yet is shocked when her husband decides to leave her. Kate then wavers between wanting her husband (and the comfortable ease of her old life) back and wanting to start afresh. A chance encounter at her former marital home answers a few lingering questions and shows Kate the reality of which path her future is going to take. Kate is vulnerable, confused and struggling emotionally and the author has dealt with these feelings in a realistic and relatable fashion.
Chloe is a teenager trying to launch into adulthood and determine her own path in life despite risking the wrath of her father. Awaiting her A-level results, Chloe is feeling pressured to go to university to please her father, Graham, despite being unsure about taking this step. She feels inadequate compared to her clever older brother Ben and, having been the apple of her father’s eye since the death of her mother many years earlier, she is jealous of her father’s current girlfriend, Maddy, and resents having to share his affection.
The additional supporting characters – Lucy, Will, Serle, Alf, Irene, Alex and Tom – all add to the wonderfully warm and friendly feeling that you get when reading Stirred With Love.
As the three women work together to re-open the café, their friendships deepen day by day as they start to deal with their individual problems, with the help of their new found friends.
Stirred With Love is a story of friendship, new beginnings and having the confidence to overcome life’s obstacles. This book puts me in mind of the quote from Edna Buchanan, Author that “Friends are the family we choose for ourselves”. It is packed full of humour, romance, joy and sadness. This is a book which will have you both smiling and crying; it is the paper equivalent of curling up in front of the fire with a mug of hot chocolate – a sweet, cosy, snuggly, heartwarming read. Well done Mel Sherratt on a great book!
Amazon UK – Kindle | Paperback
Amazon US – Kindle | Paperback
About the Author
I’m Mel Sherratt but I also write under the name of Marcie Steele. I’m a romantic at heart and have always wanted to write about characters who were not necessarily involved in the darker side of life. Coffee, cakes and friends are three of my favourite things, hence Stirred with Love for my first book writing as Marcie Steele. My second, That’s What Friends are For, will be published in December 2015.
As Mel, I write crime thrillers, psychological suspense and fiction with a punch – or grit-lit, as I call it. Shortlisted for the prestigious CWA (Crime Writer’s Association) Dagger in Library Award 2014, my inspiration comes from authors such as Mandasue Heller, Lynda la Plante, Mandasue Heller and Elizabeth Haynes. Since 2012, all seven of my crime novels have been bestsellers, each one climbing into the kindle UK top 20 and I’ve had several number ones.
I live in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, with my husband and terrier, Dexter. You can find out more at my website http://www.melsherratt.co.uk or I’m on Twitter at @writermels