Summary: In the standalone sequel to Jenny Colgan’s Meet Me at the Cupcake Café, Issy Randall couldn’t be happier and more in love. Business at the Cupcake Café is thriving, close friends surround her, and her relationship with Austin is in the perfect place–except that he’s in New York City for work right before Christmas. When Austin is scouted for a possible move to New York, Issy is forced to consider a long-distance romance and the fate of her bakery.
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Jenny Colgan’s Meet Me at the Cupcake Café was an unexpected favorite of mine last year. And by unexpected, I mean that this book was totally under my radar until a fateful trip to the local library— because how could I not love a British contemporary about baking?? I specifically held off reading its sequel, Christmas at the Cupcake Café, until this December so I could have another holiday-themed read in time for Christmas. While I do recommend reading Meet Me at the Cupcake Café to experience the entire story, Christmas at the Cupcake Café can be read as a standalone if you’re looking for festive and heart-warming read in time for Christmas.
Christmas at the Cupcake Café takes place a year after Meet Me at the Cupcake Café, as Issy and co. embrace the holiday season at the Cupcake Café. Throughout, this book just puts you into the perfect festive mood, as Issy bakes ALL the Christmas-like treats and her colleague, Caroline, decorates the café in hopes of getting featured in a London business magazine. On the other hand, Issy’s other employee, Pearl, doesn’t have the most jolly spirit, as she worries how she’ll give her son, Louis, the perfect Christmas at a tight budget.
Like Meet Me at the Cupcake Café, Caroline and Pearl provide such fun comic relief while Jenny Colgan expands their own storylines and backstories. As over the top as she is, I liked seeing Caroline’s relationship with her family. However, while I understand that four-year old Louis is supposed to be another cut comic relief, I found him to be a bit annoying at times and didn’t care too much for Pearl’s relationship with Ben (even though I of course was rooting for Louis to get his beloved monster garage for Christmas). Issy’s best friend, Helena, also provides a lot of humor and support, and her interactions with her daughter often made me laugh out loud.
While the festive Cupcake Café fits the holiday mood—how can baking not scream Christmas?—what makes this book all the more Christmas-y was Austin and Issy’s chapters in New York City! Despite their romance dilemmas, it was really fun seeing the two each explore the city during the holidays, Jenny Colgan inserting readers in the winter wonderland that can be NYC right along with them. My only “disappointment” when it came to Issy and Austin is that I wish we got to see them be more ‘couple-ly,’ despite the stress of their potential move to the US.
Overall, Christmas the Cupcake Café has the perfect settings—a bakery in London and NYC- for the holiday season. While things can get a tad predictable and over-the-top, its hilarious and heart-warming characters make for the perfect, fluffy holiday read. Like its predecessor, the book also features Issy’s recipes—I really want to make the Polar Bear cupcakes!
Have you read Meet Me at the Cupcake Café or Christmas at the Cupcake Café? What are some of your favorite holiday reads? Share in the comments!