I bought the Christmas book of this trilogy along with Ashley’s Little Cornish Isles Christmas book in January this year and quickly picked up the rest of both trilogies, as you can’t just read one, can you? With a Cornwall trip coming up, I grabbed these off the TBR pile (you can see them balanced on the back row) and given that I enjoyed the Cafe so much, I feel the Cornish Isles won’t be far behind.

Phillipa Ashley – “Summer at the Cornish Cafe”

In this fun novel we meet Demi, short for Demelza, and Cal. Demi’s moved in and out of homelessness with her dog, and Cal’s just back from a traumatic time in the Middle East working for an aid agency. He’s now trying to restore his family’s holiday park while fighting his PTSD and his love for Isla, who he left behind and who has clearly moved on. Demi jumps at the chance of a job that comes with her very own tumbledown cottage. But evil Mawgan, from a local property developer family, seems to have it in for them and she owns half of the fictional village. I loved the community with its variety of characters and the details of the restoration; this and the main characters’ back-stories made it an absorbing read, and I want to go to Demelza’s Cafe!

Phillipa Ashley – “Christmas at the Cornish Cafe”

We’re just a few weeks on from the end of the first book, and the official opening of the cafe coincides with the arrival of moody Kit to rent out one of the cottages. While Demi and Cal are not really officially an item as such, the two men react against each other and come over all possessive. Demi’s working on her social media and her cafe team, including Shamia, a food blogger casually mentioned as wearing an on-brand headscarf to work. There’s peril as Mitch the dog goes missing and confusion as to who Kit actually is, more details of the cafe and resort (hooray!) a harbour lights festival clearly and pleasingly modelled on Mousehole, and an epic storm where the community pulls together. But there can’t be a Christmas baby … can there? I love Demi’s growing confidence and refusal to let the men patronise her in this one.

Phillipa Ashley – “Confetti at the Cornish Cafe”

More fun to complete a year in the life of Demi and Cal. The celebrity wedding Isla has brokered draws close and there’s a bit of a panic to get everything done, especially as things keep going mysteriously wrong. The modern world of Instagram and blogs is there again, done very well and keeping it up to date. It’s quite realistic on how good results need hard work and although you can predict some of the plot, that’s obviously done to keep the “Ah, yes” factor, as you know what might happen but certainly not how it will happen. A satisfying end to the series – or will there be more?

It’s hard to write more about these books without giving the plot away, but I really enjoyed them. One thing I particularly liked, which might be down to marketing meetings but feels more authentic than that, is the inclusivity, not as plot points, just as asides. As well as Shamia the cafe worker and blogger with a headscarf, we have a lesbian couple who do face difficulties with their families, but as much for who the two are as for their sexuality, plus a vicar and a falconer who are both incidentally mentioned as being female, and a trans Zumba teacher. Nicely done and reflect a wider variety of people than some light women’s novels do.