This book is a sequel to Cafe by the Sea
Once again Jenny Colgan takes us back to the rugged and remote Scottish island of Mure to continue the story of Flora and Joel, along with the rest of the MacKenzie family and the other island residents.
After their improbably but passionate romance at the end of Cafe of the Sea, Flora happily agrees to stay on Mure and run her cafe while Joel plans to work in New York City and return to island as much as possible. While this seems like the perfect solution for the new couple, Flora soon grows uncertain about the arrangement. Joel leaves for weeks, even months, at a time, then sweeps back onto the island with little notice and for impossibly short intervals, and the couple do nothing but make love. Exciting as this was at first, Flora wants to go out, have friends over, and (desperately, though she keeps this from Joel) to travel with him to America.
Joel, on the other hand, wants Flora and Mure to be an escape with no demands, no socializing, and no surprises. He feels content, but Flora feels hidden away like a secret. In a moment of daring, Flora flies to NYC on her own (with her last cent, seeing as her business is not making much money) to surprise Joel and everything goes horribly wrong. Joel is not happy to see her, she feels heartbroken and humiliated and their fights do nothing to get at the heart of their problems. Flora returns home certain things are over between them.
Meanwhile, two other romances are developing on the island. Flora’s brother Fintan has started a relationship with the billionaire American developer, Colton, who working to build a resort on the island. After the shock of his coming out, the MacKenzie clan is happy to support their love. Their relationship is a bright and happy contrast to Flora and Joel’s crumbling one. However, Colton’s promised re-invigoration of the island economy by opening the resort has yet to materialize. Plans to open to the Rock Resort and employ many islanders (and buy food from the MacKenzie family farm and cafe) seem to have stalled and Colton seems unconcerned.
Another complicated relationship — not quite a romance, though — is budding between the school teacher Lorna and the town’s doctor Saif. Lorna is madly in love with Saif, but his story is complicated. A Syrian war refugee who was settled on Mure in exchange for citizenship, Saif is wild with grief for the wife and children whom he was separated from while fleeing. He is thankful for Lorna’s companionship but wants nothing more. When word comes that his children have been found and will be coming home, he is thrilled and terrified. Lorna’s kindness and support help him adjust to his new life. While Lorna is happy to help, she begins to fear she has spend too long and fallen too deeply in love with a man who will never be hers.
While these romances ebb and flow, something big is brewing. Flora senses that Colton’s lack of interest in opening the resort is more than procrastinating and fears for the islanders who have pinned so many hopes on its money and jobs. She says nothing, not wanting to dull her brothers happiness.
Will she lose Joel and the Cafe all in one summer?