Book Review: Sunshine at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson


Come to the Comfort Food Café this spring for sunshine, smiles and plenty of truly scrumptious lemon drizzle cake.

My name is Willow Longville. I live in a village called Budbury on the stunning Dorset coast with my Mum Lynnie, who sometimes forgets who I am. I’m a waitress at the Comfort Food Café, which is really so much more than a café – it’s my home.

For Willow, the ramshackle café overlooking the beach, together with its warm-hearted community, offers friendship as a daily special and always has a hearty welcome on the menu. But when a handsome stranger blows in on a warm spring breeze, Willow soon realises that her quiet country life will be changed forever.



This is the fourth in the Comfort Food Café series, however having not read the previous books I can vouch that it works perfectly as a standalone book. The author has cleverly weaved a comprehensive run down of all the charters into the story which allowed me to feel I knew and understood their collective backgrounds well.

This book focusses on Willow, the zany, pink-haired, Doc Marten wearing waitress at the Comfort Food Café. The youngest of four siblings Willow grew up with her single Mum Lynnie in a noisy, unconventional, hippie household in the village of Budbury. Now in her twenties Willow is running her own cleaning business alongside her waitressing duties in order to make ends meet, as well as being the sole carer for her Mum who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Due to the free-spirited nature of her older siblings, Auburn, Van and Angel, Willow has been coping alone with only the help of her close-knit group of friends.

Employed to clean Briarwood, the ‘house on the hill’ that used to be run as a children’s home, Willow bumps into Tom Mulligan the new owner. On the surface the two couldn’t be any more different with introvert Tom preferring order and his own company the polar opposite to Willow’s chaos and noise filled life. Despite this the two instantly hit it off with their shared geekiness and a friendship blossoms. Willow is instantly attracted to Tom, even more so after unwittingly stumbling across him doing a spot of skinny dipping, however she feels she doesn’t have room for romance in her life alongside her other commitments and it’s too much for her to even consider anything other than friendship.

Cue the reappearance of her older sister Auburn who arrives home to help with brother Van being not far behind. Willow finds it difficult to accept their help and relinquish control after doing everything alone for so long, but could it be the chance she needs to spend more time with Tom?

The characters are very well-written and believable, I felt I really got to know them and was given a real insight into their lives. Lynnie’s Alzheimer’s and the struggles it brings are portrayed in such a realistic way it is heart-breaking at times to read how this awful illness has affected her life, as well as the impact it has had on Willow as her carer. This book has a bit of everything thrown in, humour, romance, heartache plus important choices that need to be made, but the real vibe for me was one of community and friendship. The relationships between the village residents who congregate at the Comfort Food Café is amazing and such a supportive network which proves invaluable to Willow – with heart-to-hearts accompanied by plenty of coffee and cake it’s a winner in my eyes!

This is the first book by Debbie Johnson I have read and I will be making a point of reading the other books in this series so I can fill in more detail about the residents of Budbury . I really enjoyed this book, it left me with a wonderful happy glow it’s just perfect!

Buy Sunshine at The Comfort Food Café  here.

I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

17 thoughts on “Book Review: Sunshine at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

  1. This book definitely sounds like something I’d be interested in reading. I love books where everything is not hunky-dory and portrayed as something that life simply can’t be: perfection. Although it’s heartbreaking to hear of characters facing internal struggles, such as Lynnie’s struggle with Alzheimer’s, it’s nice to raise awareness through fiction. I’m slowly growing away from reading 100% young adult books, so I think something like this would be perfect. I’ve added it to my reading list, so hopefully I’ll get around to purchasing it and giving it a read soon!

    Rebekah Gillian |


  2. I think I’ve actually one of these books, or one in the series anyway, it looks and sounds so familiar! That’s the trouble with TBR piles, they are always so huge. But if I haven’t then I’ll track it down as it sounds perfect for a holiday read later next month 🙂 thank you for sharing, Mel! x

    Lisa |


  3. This book sounds like my kinda thing! I love the sound of Willow (pink hair & Dr Martens! 😍). It sounds like this book touches on very important topics as well as being lighthearted too. This is a great review Melanie, I’m going to add this one to my list 💖 xx

    Bexa |


  4. I love Debbie Johnson’s book, I can definitely vouch that you’ll love them all if you read any more, she always knows just how to develop characters to hook you in! I loved how this book accurately portrayed dementia and carers.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great review! I don’t think I’ve read an adult book review from you before but you’re good! I haven’t read this and it’s not really my genre anymore but glad you liked it! The cover is cute 🙂 xxx


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