If you’re just about ready for a dose of sunshine and a splash of blue skies then this is the book for you! Tea, Cake and new friendships – the perfect ingredients for a Spring read. I have followed Rebecca Raisin as an author for a long time and have books on my ‘to read’ list but this is the first book that I have actually read – not a moment too soon I will be delving into the rest soon!! Huge thanks to Rebecca for an advanced copy (and her publishers). I absolutely devoured this in just a few days.
Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships, and most importantly, believe in true, once in a lifetime love. So let’s hear more about the book…
Rosie Lewis has her life together.
A swanky job as a Michelin-Starred Sous Chef, a loving husband and future children scheduled for exactly January 2021.
That’s until she comes home one day to find her husband’s pre-packed bag and a confession that he’s had an affair.
Heartbroken and devastated, Rosie drowns her sorrows in a glass (or three) of wine, only to discover the following morning that she has spontaneously invested in a bright pink campervan to facilitate her grand plans to travel the country.
Now, Rosie is about to embark on the trip of a lifetime, and the chance to change her life! With Poppy, her new-found travelling tea shop in tow, nothing could go wrong, could it…?
A laugh-out-loud novel of love, friendship and adventure! Perfect for fans of Debbie Johnson and Holly Martin.
There are so many great books out there that focus on a female protagonist who heads off to ‘go it alone’ and opens a cafe, or a bookshop, or something else in a fixed location (usually Cornwall). But not Rosie. She TRAVELS the UK! I love that about this book – so many different festivals, settings and characters along the way. A bit of romance, some strong friendships, some great feel good moments – this book has all the best ingredients and unique-ness along the way as well. I love a book that clearly has had the main topics researched (or else has a very knowledgeable author!) This one was a new topic for me – instead of cafe’s – VANLIFE! Also the internet community was well and truly brought into the story – the good and the bad. There were some great underlying messages throughout the whole book.
The Kindle edition of this book is available for just £1.99 right now. You’ll have to keep an eye out for the paperback as that’s not until May! If my review STILL hasn’t convinced you then the lovely publishers have given me the cherry on top of the cake… an extract! Here you go…
‘You’re just not spontaneous enough, Rosie…’
I’ve misheard, surely. Fatigue sends my brain to mush at the best of times but after twenty hours on my feet, words sound fuzzy, and I struggle to untangle what he’s getting at.
It’s just gone 2 a.m. on Saturday 2nd February and that means I’m officially 32 years old. By my schedule I should be in the land of nod, but I’d stayed late at work to spontaneously bake a salted caramel tart to share with Callum, hoping he’d actually remember my birthday this year.
He’s never been a details man – we’re opposites in that respect – so I try not to take it to heart, but part of me hopes this is all a prelude to a fabulous birthday surprise and not the brewing of a row.
‘Sorry, Callum, what did you say?’ I try to keep my voice light and swig a little too heartily on the cheap red wine I found in the back of the cupboard after Callum told me we needed to have a chat. Surreptitiously, I glance to the table beside me hoping to see a prettily wrapped box but find it bare, bar a stack of cookbooks. Really, I don’t need gifts, do I? Love can be shown in other ways, perhaps he’ll make me a delicious breakfast when we wake up…
My eyes slip closed. With midnight long gone, my feet ache, and I’m weary right down to my bones. Bed is calling to me in the most seductive way; come hither and sleep, Rosie, it says. Even the thought of a slice of luscious ooey-gooey birthday tart can’t keep me awake and compos mentis. But I know I must focus, he’s trying to tell me something…
‘Are you asleep?’ The whine in his voice startles me awake. ‘Rosie, please, don’t make this any harder than it has to be,’ he says, as if I’m being deliberately obtuse.
Make what harder – what have I missed? I shake my head, hoping the fog will clear. ‘How am I not spontaneous? What do you even mean by that?’ Perhaps he’s nervous because he’s about to brandish two airline tickets to the Bahamas. Happy Birthday, Rosie, time to pack your bags!
He lets out a long, weary sigh like I’m dense and it strikes me as strange that he’s speaking in riddles at this time of the morning when I have to be at the fishmonger in precisely five hours.
‘Look…’ He runs a hand through his thinning red hair. ‘I think we both know it’s over, don’t we?’
‘Over?’ My mouth falls open. Just exactly how long did my power nap last for? ‘What… us?’ My incredulity thickens the air. This does not sound anything like a birthday celebration, not even close.
‘Yes, us,’ he confirms, averting his eyes.
‘Over because I’m not—’, I make air quotes with my fingers, ‘—spontaneous enough?’ Has he polished off the cooking sherry?
My husband still won’t look at me.
‘You’re too staid. You plan your days with military precision from when you wake to when you sleep, and everything in between has a time limit attached to it. There’s no room for fun or frivolity, or god forbid having sex on a day you haven’t scheduled it.’
So I’m a planner? It’s essential in my line of work as a sous-chef in esteemed Michelin-starred London restaurant Époque, and he should know that, having the exact same position in another restaurant (one with no Michelin stars, sadly). If I didn’t schedule our time together we’d never see each other! And I wouldn’t get the multitude of things done that need doing every single hour of every day. High pressure is an understatement.
‘I… I…’ I don’t know how to respond.
‘See?’ He stares me down as if I’m a recalcitrant child. ‘You don’t even care! I’d get more affection from a pot plant! You can be a bit of a cold fish, Rosie.’
His accusation makes me reel, as if I’ve been slapped. ‘That’s harsh, Callum, honestly, what a thing to say!’ Truth be told I’m not one for big shows of affection. If you want my love, you’ll get it when I serve you a plate of something I’ve laboured over. That’s how I express myself, when I cook.
It dawns on me, thick and fast. ‘There’s someone else.’
He has the grace to blush.
A feeling of utter despair descends while my stomach churns. How could he?
‘Well?’ I urge him again. Since he’s dropping truth bombs left, right and centre, he can at least admit his part in this… this break-up. Hurt crushes my heart. I hope I’m asleep and having a nightmare.
‘Well, yes, there is, but it’s not exactly a surprise, surely? We’re like ships that pass in the night. If only you were more—’
‘Don’t you dare say spontaneous.’
‘—if only you were less staid.’ He manages a grin. A grin. Do I even know this man who thinks stomping over my heart is perfectly acceptable?
He continues reluctantly, his face reddening as if he’s embarrassed. ‘It’s just… you’re so predictable, Rosie. I can see into your future, our future because it’s planned to the last microsecond! You’ll always be a sous-chef, and you’ll always schedule your days from sun up to sun down. You’ll keep everyone at arm’s length. Even when I leave, you’ll continue on the exact same trajectory.’ He shakes his head as though he’s disappointed in me but his voice softens. ‘I’m sorry, Rosie, I really am, but I can see it playing out – you’ll stay resolutely single and grow the most cost-effective herb garden this side of the Thames. I hope you don’t, though. I truly hope you find someone who sets your world on fire. But it’s not me, Rosie.’
What in the world? Not only is he dumping me, he’s planning my spinsterhood too? Jinxing me to a lonely life where my only companion is my tarragon plant? Well, not on my watch! I might be sleep-deprived but I’m nobody’s fool. The love I have for him pulses, but I remember the other woman and it firms my resolve.
He sighs and gives me a pitying smile. ‘I hate to say it, Rosie. But you’re turning into your dad. Not wanting to leave the…’
‘Get out,’ I say. He is a monster.
Cold fish, eh? ‘OUT!’ I muster the loudest voice I can.
‘But I thought we’d sort who gets what first?’
‘Out and I mean it, Callum.’ I will not give him the satisfaction of walking all over me just because he thinks he can.
‘Fine, but I’m keeping this apartment. You can—’
‘NOW!’ The roar startles even me. You want to see me warm up? ‘LEAVE!’
He jumps from the couch and dashes to the hallway, where I see a small bag he’s left in readiness, knowing the outcome of our ‘quick chat’ long before I did. With one last guilty look over his shoulder, he leaves with a bang of the door. He’s gone just like that.
As though I’m someone so easy to walk away from.
Laying down on the sofa, I clutch a cushion to my chest and wait for the pain to subside. How has it all gone so wrong? There’s someone else in his life? When did he find time to romance anyone?
Sure, I don’t go out much, other than for work purposes, but that’s because there’s no bloody time to go out! I’m not like my dad, am I? No, Callum is using that as ammunition, knowing how sensitive I am to such a comparison.
The sting of his words burns and doubt creeps in. Am I not spontaneous enough? Am I far too predictable?
Admittedly I’d been feeling hemmed in, ennui creeping into everything, even my menu. Each day bleeding into the next with no discernible change except the plat de jour. Sure, my professional life is on track but lately even my enthusiasm for that has waned. I’ve had enough of tweezing micro herbs to last a lifetime. Of plating minuscule food at macro prices. Of the constant bickering in the kitchen. The noise, the bluster, the backstabbing. Of never seeing blue skies or the sun setting. Of not being able to sit beside my husband on the couch at a reasonable hour and keep my eyes open at the same time.
Is this my fault? Am I a cold fish? I like routine and order so I know where I fit in the world. Everything is controlled and organised. There’s no clutter, mess, or fuss, or any chance I’ll lose control of any facet of my life. That need to keep life contained is a relic of my childhood. Is my marriage now a casualty of that?
But he’d promised he’d love me for better or worse.
Am I supposed to hope he comes to his senses or to beg him to come back?
Sighing, I place a hand on my heart, trying to ease the ache. I could never trust him again. I’m a stickler for rules, always have been, and cheating, well… I can’t forgive that.
But bloody hell, our lives had been all mapped out. Our first child was scheduled for conception in 2021. The second in 2023. And he’s just blithely walking away from his children like that! Didn’t he understand I would have given up my career for our future family? The career I’d worked so hard for! And I would have done it gladly, too.
The gossip will spread like wildfire around the foodie world. My name embroiled in a scandal not of my choosing. It’s taken me fifteen years to get to where I am in my career, and that’s meant sacrificing a few things along the way, like a social life, and free time, real friendships. But that was all part of the bigger picture, the tapestry of our lives.
It hurts behind my eyes just thinking about it all.
And I mean to cry and wail and torment myself about the ‘other woman’, or force myself up off the couch and throw my lovingly baked birthday tart at the wall, or eat it all in one go as tears stream down my face – something dramatic and movie-esque – but I don’t. Instead, I fall into a deep sleep, only waking when my alarm shrills at stupid o’clock the next day, and with it comes the overwhelming knowledge that I must leave London. At 32, this could be my rebirth, couldn’t it?
Not spontaneous enough? Cold fish? Spinster? Like my dad?
I’ll show you.