‘The time to be happy is now…’ Jo remembers her late husband’s words but is struggling to face the lonely future that lies ahead. A heartbroken widow, Jo finds herself alone with ghostly memories at Kirkton House – a Cumbrian Manor that until recently, she ran as a thriving hotel. Her two sons have moved away, Jimmy to run a bar in Barbados, and Zach to London to pursue a career as a celebrity chef. Middle-age and widowhood loom frighteningly and Jo determines to sell up and start again, despite protestations from colourful friend, Hattie and erstwhile admirer Pete Parks.
Hattie convinces Jo to postpone any life-changing decisions by enjoying a Caribbean holiday but their holiday sets off a course of events that brings mayhem and madness to Jo and her family. Confused and anxious for her future, can life really begin again for Jo?
Coffee Tea The Caribbean & Me was a finalist at The Write Stuff – London Book Fair 2015. The judge’s comments included, “Caroline is a natural story-teller with a gift for humour in her writing.”
Caroline’s books are stand-alone stories but characters do make appearances throughout. The best order to read them is:
Coffee Tea The Gypsy & Me
So, You Think You’re A Celebrity…Chef?
Coffee Tea The Caribbean & Me
Coffee Tea The Caribbean & Meis the follow up to Coffee Tea The Gypsy & Me, set some 20 years after the first book, although it can be read as a standalone novel.
The book starts in the village of Kirkton Sowby in Cumbria, where best friends Jo and Hattie are both reeling from their own individual traumas and struggling to rebuild their lives. Hattie decides that some time away would give them time to lick their wounds and come to terms with their losses. After some persuasion, we see them jumping on an aeroplane and heading off to Barbados where Jo’s son Jimmy is currently running a bar.
The author writes with a gloriously descriptive turn that allows the reader to become totally caught up in the holiday. I could virtually feel the sun on my skin and I certainly think a rum punch wouldn’t have gone amiss!
The sun, sea, sand and rum punch play their magic and Hattie and Jo quickly fall into the rhythmic swing of Caribbean life, reluctant for their adventures to come to an end. They enjoy seemingly endless days of sun, cocktails, Caribbean food and parties – life simply couldn’t be more perfect! This holiday has certainly proven to be the tonic they need to cure their woes. However, on their return home, will Jo be able to see what is right there under her nose or will the lessons learnt in sunny Barbados become a thing of the past…?
I loved the characters in this book: from elegant Jo to mad-as-a-hatter Hattie and all the supporting characters with such wide-ranging personalities that they virtually leap out from the pages. Hattie and her Barbadian driver certainly bring a great sense of fun to the story!
I liked the different threads to the book. The author does not limit herself to the main story, but also includes little side stories including Pete Parks who has been left back in Kirkton Sowby, Jo’s love interest in Barbados and, my favourite being Jo’s sons, Jimmy the bar owner and events coordinator and ‘Gypsy Chef’ Zach, a Michelin-starred chef on the path towards fame and fortune. These additional sub-plots gave the supporting characters some depth and creates an attachment for the reader.
My one criticism would be in the way that Jo treats Pete Parks. He is a gentle and unassuming man, quietly in love with Jo and always there to lend a hand or a supportive ear. Yet she is so very dismissive of him at times. I was unsure why Pete continuously put up with her seeming indifference and I desperately wanted him to realise that he deserves better.
Coffee Tea The Caribbean & Me is ultimately a well-written, engaging and entertaining story of friendship, filled to the brim with romance, sun, cocktails and food! There’s also a big dose of heartfelt emotion that adds an extra depth to the tale. It is wonderfully fun, bright and light hearted read with a great sense of humour. It would make the perfect choice for a holiday novel!
I’ve not read any of Caroline James’ books before, however after reading this charming story I am very much looking forward to her next release!
About the Author
Caroline James lives in Cheshire and spends her time writing romantic comedy, climbing mountains and running a consultancy business. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, The Society of Authors and a Feature Editor and contributor for an online magazine. Caroline writes short stories and contributes articles to many publications.
Her debut novel: Coffee, Tea The Gypsy & Me is set in North West England in a country house hotel at the time of a famous gypsy horse fair. The book went straight to number three on Amazon and was E-book of the Week in The Sun.
Her second novel: So, You Think You’re A Celebrity…Chef? is set in London, Ireland and Barbados with much of the action taking place at an annual Gourmet Food Festival. The story takes a light-hearted and often hilarious look at the world of celebrity chefs as they battle it out for fame and fortune led by media agent Hilary Hargreaves and her team, described by one reviewer as: “AbFab Meets MasterChef in a Soap…”
Her third novel: Coffee Tea The Caribbean & Me is now available. Coffee Tea The Caribbean & Me was a Top Ten Finalist at The Write Stuff, London Book fair 2015, the judges commented that “Caroline is a natural story-teller with a gift for humour in her writing.” A stand-alone book, the novel is the sequel to Coffee Tea The Gypsy & Me. Join Jo and Hattie as they romp into their middle years and prove that anything is possible!
Caroline is a contributing author to: Let’s Hear It For The Boy’s – a short story anthology as a tribute to the men of Movember.
Facebook: Caroline James Author