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Friday, 29 April 2016

Extract from 'Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe' by Debbie Johnson

My new favourite author’ – Holly Martin, bestselling author of ‘Christmas at Lilac Cottage’ & ‘Summer at Rose Island’

The brand new book from best-selling author Debbie Johnson will make you laugh, make you cry, and make you raid the pantry in the middle of the night…
The Comfort Food Cafe is perched on a windswept clifftop at what feels like the edge of the world, serving up the most delicious cream teas; beautifully baked breads, and carefully crafted cupcakes. For tourists and locals alike, the ramshackle cafe overlooking the beach is a beacon of laughter, companionship, and security – a place like no other; a place that offers friendship as a daily special, and where a hearty welcome is always on the menu.
For widowed mum-of-two Laura Walker, the decision to uproot her teenaged children and make the trek from Manchester to Dorset for the summer isn’t one she takes lightly, and it’s certainly not winning her any awards from her kids, Nate and Lizzie. Even her own parents think she’s gone mad.
But following the death of her beloved husband David two years earlier, Laura knows that it’s time to move on. To find a way to live without him, instead of just surviving. To find her new place in the world, and to fill the gap that he’s left in all their lives.
Her new job at the cafe, and the hilarious people she meets there, give Laura the chance she needs to make new friends; to learn to be herself again, and – just possibly – to learn to love again as well.
For her, the Comfort Food Cafe doesn’t just serve food – it serves a second chance to live her life to the full…

Title:        Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe
Author:    Debbie Johnson
Published By: Harper Impulse
Date:        April 29th 2016
Link:        UK: Amazon  US: Amazon

We are delighted to be able to feature an extract from 'Summer at the Comfort Food Café', the scrumptuous new novel by Debbie Johnson which will be out in ebook on the 29th April and paperback on 16th June.

They filmed The French Lieutenant’s Woman there,’ I say, trying to meet my daughter’s eyes in the rear-view mirror. She’s not interested, of course. She’s too busy staring at her phone, thumbs moving quick as lightning as she types. So quick they’re just vague pink blurs, in fact. If Lizzie was going to be a superhero, she’d be called Thumb Girl: the Fastest Text in the West.
Sadly, Thumb Girl doesn’t seem impressed with my cinematic reference, and really, what did I expect? Was that the best I could come up with? A sappy Meryl Streep movie from before she was even born? A historical romance featuring some award-winning moustaches and meaningful glances? It’s enough to give mothers the world over a bad name, for God’s sake.
‘Never heard of it, Mum,’ she replies, grudgingly. I’m actually surprised she even vocalises her response and suspect she’s saying something much ruder on her screen. I make a mental note to check her Twitter account later. Or Tumblr. Or Facebook. I’ve kind of lost track of which one is her favourite form of communication at the moment. It certainly isn’t good old-fashioned talking. Not with me at least.
I scrabble for something more contemporary – something cooler. Something that might make her hate me ever-so-slightly less than she does right now. Something along the lines of ‘the lead singer from Green Day will be living next door to us’, but more … true.
’Yeah. I suppose it is a bit old for you. Well, they filmed Broadchurch there,’ I finally say.
’The one about the murdered kid?’ asks Lizzie, finally looking up, one eyebrow raised in query just about visible beneath her straight blonde fringe. The fringe has been getting lower and lower for months now – eventually I fear it will cover her whole face and she’ll look like Cousin It dressed by Primark.
’That’s it, yes, the one with David Tennant in it,’ I reply, encouraged to have finally found some common ground. Even if it is common ground built on infanticide and Doctor Who.
’Wow. What a great advert for the place,’ comes the sarcastic reply. ’Remind me to get a rape alarm.’
Okay. Deep breaths. There are at least four hours left of this fun family road trip, I remind myself. In an ideal world, we’ll at least save the shouting until we’re past Birmingham. I consider starting a ‘count the red cars’ game and realise that they haven’t played that since they were a lot younger. And I also realise – for about the millionth time – that I suck at this.
David had a way of making car journeys fun. I’d be the one making sure we all had bottles of water and muffins to eat and spare carrier bags in case Nate threw up, and he’d be the one making them laugh. I’d be studying the map – Sat nav’s for Slackers, he’d always say – and he’d be driving and somehow managing to keep everybody’s spirits up.
Well, they’re older now – and way less easy to amuse. Plus, I’m still not sure how it is going to be possible to read the map, drive the car and keep everybody’s spirits up at the same time. I’m struggling with my own spirits, never mind theirs as well. And, even though I’d never drink and drive (honest), every time I think of the word ‘spirits’, I start to yearn for a large, super frosty G&T. Or maybe a mojito. Later, I promise. Later.
I take the deep breath I’d recommended to myself and ask – silently – the question that plays across my mind at least a few times every day. Even more right now as we set off on this exciting adventure that nobody, including me, seems to find very exciting at all. What Would David Do, I think? WWDD, for short.
David, I know, would be untroubled. He’d smile and ignore the cheekiness, and find a way to deflate the whole situation with a lame joke. Or he’d start to talk in a series of fart noises. Or put on a French accent and sing ‘Barbie Girl’. Something like that, anyway.
But David did have the very big advantage of Lizzie adoring everything about him. He could never do any wrong in her eyes – whereas her feelings towards me, right now, aren’t quite so generous. At best, I suspect they go along the lines of ‘will someone please tell me I’m adopted?’, and at worst, she may be using her birthday money to hire a hitman. To say she’s displeased at being separated from her friends for the summer is something of an understatement – a bit like saying Daniel Craig is passably attractive.
‘It’s on the Jurassic Coast,’ I add, trying again. I can practically feel the black aura creeping over my shoulders from the back seat, but I have to try. Because that is definitely what DWD and I need to keep going. Sat nav’s for Slackers, and Quiets for Quitters. It’s 6.30am and I’ve only had one mug of coffee.
If somebody doesn’t talk to me soon, I might actually fall asleep at the wheel, which would be bad for all concerned as I’m in control of a very full Citroen Picasso, complete with equally full roof rack and a fat black Labrador snoring in the boot.
Nate perks up at my latest comment, looking up from his DS for a moment. Presumably Super Mario/Sonic the Hedgehog/Pokémon/delete as applicable is on pause. His hair’s a bit too long as well, but not for style purposes – we just haven’t found the time or the inclination to go to the barbers very much. That was one of his dad’s jobs, too. I’ve been trimming it myself with the nail scissors, which I really must stop doing – he’s twelve. He needs to stop looking like he lets his mum cut his hair, even if he does.
’So did they film Jurassic World there?’ he asks, hopefully. I hate to disappoint, but feel that leading him to expect a first-hand encounter with a friendly bronchosaurus might ultimately result in him hating me when he realises I lied. He is, as I’ve said, twelve – so technically he knows that velociraptors don’t roam the hills and vales of Dorset. But he’s also a boy, so he lives in hope that he’s about to be whisked off to a super-secret island filled with Scenes of Mild Peril.
’Erm … no,’ I admit. ’But we can go fossil-hunting, if you like? Apparently there are loads washed up on the beach.’
He gives me the smile. That small, sweet smile that says ‘I remain unimpressed, but love you anyway’. The uni-dimple makes a brief, heart-wrenching appearance, before he turns his face back to what really matters. The small device on his lap.
I have a fleeting moment of nostalgia for the days when kids weren’t permanently attached to electronic gadgets, and then realise I am being both hypocritical and very, very old. When I was their age, I thought my Walkman was the absolute bees knees and used to pull very rude faces when my mum suggested I might get ear cancer if I didn’t take the headphones off every now and then.
’That sounds cool, Mum,’ Nate says, already lost in his alternative reality.
’Are you okay playing on that?’ I ask. ’You don’t feel sick?’
’No. It’s okay Mum. I haven’t been car sick since I was eight.’
’All right. But I’ve put some bags in the glove box you know, just in case …’
He nods and gives me another grin before playing again. Beautiful boy.
I bask in my thirty seconds of maternal glory and glance out at the approaching motorway sign.
Hmmm. Sandbach Service Station – I wonder if they do mojitos to go?
Book Angels x

About the Author

Debbie Johnson is a best-selling author who lives and works in Liverpool, where she divides her time between writing, caring for a small tribe of children and animals, and not doing the housework. She writes romance, fantasy and crime – which is as confusing as it sounds!
Her latest book, The Birthday That Changed Everything (HarperCollins), has been described by Sunday Times best-selling novelist Milly Johnson as 'a lovely, emotion-filled, giggle-inducing story.'
Her other romantic comedy best-sellers include Cold Feet at Christmas, Pippa's Cornish Dream and Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper. Her next tale, The Comfort Food Cafe, will be out on HarperImpulse in May 2016.
You can find her supernatural crime thriller, Fear No Evil, featuring Liverpool PI Jayne McCartney, on Amazon, published by Maze/Avon Books.
Debbie also writes urban fantasy, set in modern day Liverpool. Dark Vision and the follow-up Dark Touch are published by Del Rey UK, and earned her the title 'a Liverpudlian Charlaine Harris' from The Guardian.
You can find out more at, or at

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