Wednesday 18 November 2020

Guest Review: The Cornish Cream Tea Christmas by Cressida McLaughlin

Hannah Swan is looking forward to Christmas for the first time in years. Her new job as an eco-consultant is taking her – and her geeky colleague, Noah – to the beautiful Cornish village of Porthgolow for the first time.

They’re are helping the Crystal Waters Hotel to ramp up its green credentials, though after a bumpy journey, Hannah can’t shake off the feeling that Porthgolow is strangely familiar. Never able to resist a mystery, her interest is piqued when the hotel’s staff and customers report odd noises and sightings, believing the hotel to be haunted.

When bad weather cuts off Porthgolow, Hannah and Noah are looking at a Cornish Christmas. It gives them plenty of time to work out what is really going on, but will their yuletide escape send shivers up their spines? Or will it be as warm and toasty as a glass of mulled wine?

Review: This is the third book in a series about The Cornish Cream Tea Bus, an old red Routemaster bus that has been skilfully converted into a tea shop that can usually be found beside the beach in the fictional Cornish village of Porthgolow. The owner, Charlie, brought the bus there on a holiday, but never really left, so it is now a famous fixture in the community. Charlie’s boyfriend, Daniel, runs the luxurious cliff top hotel, Crystal Waters, and it is the hotel that brings the heroine of the present tale to Porthgolow all the way from Edinburgh. In common with many of Cressida McLaughlin’s books, this story was originally published as a series of 4 ebooks. I have waited until finishing all the parts before writing this review.

The story revolves around eco-consultant Hannah, who travels to Porthgolow just a couple of weeks before Christmas to assess the eco rating of the Crystal Waters Hotel and suggest any improvements. She is joined by local freelance assessor Noah, who seems at first cold and uncommunicative. She soon becomes enthralled by the village but can’t shake the feeling that she has been there before during childhood holidays in Cornwall. However, her mother is being quite evasive on the subject and Hannah wonders what she is hiding. When a tremendous storm hits the area and makes her planned journey back to Edinburgh impossible, Hannah enjoys getting to know the locals and spending more time with Noah. She also becomes intrigued by reports of paranormal activity at the hotel and an interesting episode in its past. As it seems less and less likely that Hannah is going to get home for Christmas, she ponders on her future, having become smitten with this village, and, increasingly, with Noah.

I have read and enjoyed all of the books in this Cream Tea Bus series, and wouldn’t be able to choose which I liked most. I would definitely recommend this book as a festive read. It could certainly be read as a standalone, but the three books go together to make a lovely cosy tale. The series is full of wonderful characters and locations. Making the old bus into a cafe was a great idea, just right for the setting in the little village. I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing that I could climb on board and sample some of those lovely cakes whilst looking out over the beach. I don’t know if Cressida McLaughlin is planning more stories about Porthgolow and the bus, but I for one would love to know what happens to the inhabitants I feel I have come to know.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

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