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26 August 2013

Review: 'The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe' by Mary Simses (2013)

A high-powered Manhattan attorney finds love, purpose, and the promise of a simpler life in her grandmother's hometown.

Ellen Branford is going to fulfill her grandmother's dying wish--to find the hometown boy she once loved, and give him her last letter. Ellen leaves Manhattan and her Kennedy-esque fiance for Beacon, Maine. What should be a one-day trip is quickly complicated when she almost drowns in the chilly bay and is saved by a local carpenter. The rescue turns Ellen into something of a local celebrity, which may or may not help her unravel the past her grandmother labored to keep hidden. As she learns about her grandmother and herself, it becomes clear that a 24-hour visit to Beacon may never be enough.

As soon as I pulled my review copy of ‘The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop and CafĂ©’ by new author Mary Simses out of the envelope (thanks to the lovely people at Headline!), I couldn’t wait to start reading it (and it was also the start of a serious craving for blueberry muffins). It’s always great to discover new writers, and after finding out other people were saying Mary Simses’s work reminds of Nicholas Sparks (one of my favourite romance novelists of all time), I already had a feeling this debut novel would not disappoint! 

Ellen Branford has it all: she’s a successful lawyer, lives in the always exciting city of New York, and in a few months she will be married to her handsome fiancĂ© Hayden. However, unexpectedly Ellen finds herself in the small town of Beacon in Maine, on a mission to fulfil her late grandmother’s last wish: delivering a letter with an apology to her teenage sweetheart. Ellen thinks it will just be a short trip, but when she falls through a dock and is saved from the water by local carpenter Roy, all kinds of unforeseen things happen. Soon, Ellen realises she might need a bit more time in Beacon to not only discover what her grandmother had been hiding from her family from years, but also to discover what she wants to do with her own life.

I couldn’t help but fall in love with the descriptions in this novel. Mary Simses really manages to create beautiful places and images with her words, and in my head I could easily picture the small town of Beacon with its local pub, Ellen’s grandmother painting, and I could almost smell the freshly baked blueberry muffins. The touches of romance and nostalgia in the book are fantastic, and they really made the reading experience even better for me. I do understand why people compare this novel to Nicholas Sparks’ work, because he can do the exact same thing with his writing and it’s a quality not all authors possess.

The plot is not too original and in places a bit predictable, but this didn’t spoil the story for me one bit. There were even some small twists and turns I personally did not see coming. ‘The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop and Cafe’ is, true to its title, an irresistible novel to those readers who love a romantic and nostalgic story they can get lost in. A truly delightful and warm debut novel by Mary Simses, and I’m already looking forward to her next one!  


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