Friday, April 8, 2022

Book Review: The Custard Tart Café by the Sea

By Sara Steven

Willow has opened a custard tart café at the end of a popular English seaside pier. Her unique and magical spin on the Portuguese pastel de nata has customers queuing outside the door to taste them.

Tiago’s grandparents are purveyors of The Real Deal: authentic custard tarts made in the Algarve region of Portugal, where his family have been lovingly baking them for centuries. When he moves to England for a new job and chances upon Willow’s wondrous wares, he is out for war.

At least that’s his intention. But when serendipity brings Willow and Tiago back together at the departures desk in Bristol airport - destination Faro - outrage isn’t the only spark that’s about to fly...

Weston-super-Mare and Portugal are about to collide! (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

Ooh, that Tiago…

And I don’t mean that in a good way. I couldn’t help but feel for Willow, an entrepreneur who has set out to bring her custard tart café to a seaside pier. The pastel de nata that she creates doesn’t follow the traditional standards that go into making custard tarts, but I feel that is a huge reason why she gains popularity–she is taking a risk and doing something different and unexpected. Yet Tiago is completely against Willow’s free-spirited nature, going so far as to try to create chaos for this newly minted café owner. It really bothered me when she would do what she could to defend herself, only to have her words fall on unsupportive ears. 

Yet despite his muckery, Willow feels drawn to him. It doesn’t help that he’s handsome and passionate, and that they both have the “opposites attract” angle going for them. But it’s hard for her to overlook the huge differences, one of the biggest being his obvious disdain for Willow’s café. Will they ever be able to get over the issues between them, or is it better to stick to her own corner at the end of the English seaside pier and write him off forever? 

I do appreciate a good character evolution arc, and it’s quite possible that Tiago showcases that. It’s hard for him to accept the fact that an artform that his grandparents perfected and the centuries that had been put into making custard tarts within his family could so easily be erased by someone who doesn’t seem to understand just how important it can be to him and to others like him who hail from Portugal. But I still felt riled up when he and Willow would converse, due to the back-and-forth banter between them. On the one hand, it made me want to reach into the pages and provide my own commentary on the subject, yet I also looked forward to those moments between them, because there was an obvious fire brewing there, just under the surface. It was veiled up under the guise of custard tarts, but the reader realizes there is so much more there. Also, I need to mention the custard tarts--I don't think I've ever had one myself, but I want one! They sound like delicious desserts and I kept wishing that one would materialize for me, so I could experience what they taste like. Learning about the tarts and the two characters who seemed destined to collide into one another was a sweet experience!

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US * Amazon UK

Isabella May
lives in (mostly) sunny Andalusia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the mountains and the sea. She grew up in Somerset on Glastonbury's ley lines and loves to feature her quirky English hometown in her stories.

After a degree in Modern Languages and European Studies at UWE, Bristol (and a year working abroad in Bordeaux and Stuttgart), Isabella bagged an extremely jammy and fascinating job in children's publishing... selling foreign rights for novelty, board, pop-up and non-fiction books all over the world; in every language from Icelandic to Korean, Bahasa Indonesian to Papiamento!

All of which has fueled her curiosity and love of international food and travel - both feature extensively in her romcoms.

Isabella is also a Pranic Healer and a stillbirth mum.

Visit Isabella online:
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