Note: As always, the image leads you to a universal buy link for the book
What they say: Welcome to Cressida McLaughlin’s heartwarming The Canal Board Cafe – step aboard!
Summer Freeman has embarked on a new life afloat. She’s taking the Canal Boat Café on a scenic journey and is meeting old friends and new. Among the new is Claire from the bohemian boating community who is keen to take Summer under her wing. Mason, the handsome photographer from Willowbeck, seems intent on tracking her down, but Summer has discovered that Mason isn’t all that he seems to be.
Summer starts to feel a real sense of freedom amongst wandering river folk, but she soon finds herself missing Willowbeck… and Mason, whose articles she has been reading online. Will Summer embrace the nomadic lifestyle or will she find herself drawn back to Willowbeck, the place she loves best and where Mason is waiting?
The review: You’ll remember I named ‘All Aboard’ (The Canal Boat Cafe Series Book 1), my book of the year so far (read review here ) , and I have to admit, when people ask what I recommend in terms of rom coms/ chick lit or light hearted romance, this is still the first book that comes to mind. What a relief and a thrill, then, to be able to say I can continue to recommend that they read and ingest this, the second book of the Canal Boat Series by the brilliant Cressida McLaughlin. It is named ‘Casting Off’ and the perfect Summer Freeman is indeed casting off, she’s left Willowbeck and is now moored by Foxburn. The perfection of book 1 is nicely continued with a reminder of what is going on. Again I swooned for Ms McLaughlin’s beautiful description and enticing lead in:
‘She had opened the hatch when she was on board, leaving a teapot and some bit size brownies next to a sign that said ‘help yourself-the canal boat cafe will be opening soon’
A new place brought with it new characters, the main one being the bright, vibrant, mildly mistrusting but fantastically amicable Claire. My notes regularly returned to me simply saying ‘I love her!’for it was true-who wouldn’t love a trader that booms out a great range of musical gems of all genres unapologetically? I’m always using the term ‘smile out loud,’ but here I properly grinned, she was fantastic and played a huge part in Summer’s roving life.Claire contributed to the comedy which made me properly smile, for example when the customers came in asking for food that Claire had initially told Summer to start including in her spread, and Summer found herself asking questions:
‘Have you had a good day? Bought any music?’
There was a very different band of characters who set the tone very nicely, that of magic and enchantment as we were regaled with stories, some funny, some sad, some other worldly. As Summer released the story of her life which we knew from book 1 to a new character I almost felt as if we had moved with her, from apartment search to boat to the decision to make a new life and it was all so familiar and wonderful.
The one thing that sets Ms McLaughlin’s writing apart is the attention to detail, the daily tasks and routines of the boaters, the ins and outs and mechanics of their vehicles made everything so much more realistic and vivid in my mind. There’s buckets of romance and drama, the arrival of old friends, some welcome, some not so much, and always, always a wish to know of a place such as this, a warm, cosy, friendly haven filled with tasty treats. There’s also an ending with a kick that sent me straight to buy books three and four.
This could be read as a standalone, and you’d have a good picture of the goings on, but I’d say get back to book 1 and savour the whole fantastic journey. Again, gorgeous!