About the Book
Book: LuLu’s Cafe
Author: T.I. Lowe
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release date: June 4, 2019
When a damaged young woman is given a chance to reclaim her life in a small South Carolina town, she must reckon with the dark secrets she left behind in order to accept the love she deserves.
On the run from a violent past, Leah Allen arrived in tiny Rivertown, South Carolina, battered and broken, but ready to reinvent herself. By a stroke of fate, Leah is drawn to the Southern hospitality of a small café, looking for a warm meal but finding so much more. Lulu, the owner, offers her a job, a place to stay and a new lease on life. Through Lulu’s tenacious warmth and generosity, Leah quickly finds herself embraced by the quaint community as she tries to put herself back together. Given she’s accustomed to cruelty, the kindness is overwhelming.
Soon Leah meets Crowley Mason, the most eligible bachelor in town. A lawyer and friend of Lulu’s, Crowley is wary of Leah’s sudden, mysterious arrival. Despite his reserve, something sparks between them that can’t be denied. But after all she’s been through, can Leah allow herself to truly love and be loved, especially when her first urge is to run?
Exploring the resiliency of both the heart and the spirit, Lulu’s Café gorgeously illustrates how old scars can finally heal no matter how deep they seem.
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First impression: Great premise for a story. Not everyone can write a book where the main character is suffering from domestic abuse. I thought Gabriella’s reactions and emotional eating at the beginning of the story showed a great depth of pain and internal struggle. She knew she needed to leave Brent, and she made plans to do so, she just wasn’t quick enough.
I do have a few issues, however. On many occasions, there was the chance for major internal dialogue which would showcase Leah’s healing both physically and emotionally once she arrives at Lulu’s. Instead, we’re given narration on places she goes and activities in the town as a means to showcase the passing of time. I don’t mind that, exactly, but it seems like an enormous missed opportunity.
Leah went from scared and complacent abuse victim to strong, capable, and willing to trust the first man she meets seemingly without any qualms, flashbacks, triggers, or anything that would show her past trauma. Once, she flinches away from Crowley because his hand moves too fast. After, ten years of abuse, there would be much more than that. I’m not asking for nitty, gritty details, but I would prefer the healing to be realistic.
My other issue, we never know whether Leah accepts Christ as her Savior. It’s implied, but so are a lot of other things. Implying and letting the reader decide is all well and good, but, again, it just feels like a majorly missed opportunity to showcase God’s love and healing peace.
Other than that, I enjoyed the book. The writing style was fun and easily followed. I loved the small town and Lulu’s Cafe, in particular. Lulu deserves her own book. I bet that woman has quite the arsenal of stories she could tell.
But I also have to give credit to the arc of Leah’s character. Although it was not given in the way I would prefer, there is profound growth in Leah as a person. By no means does the story fall flat, nor is it without merit.
I can’t recommend this book for everyone, because the presence of domestic abuse can be a trigger for some. It’s not easy to read, regardless of your history, but will be more difficult for some than for others.
I requested a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. I was not required to leave a positive review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
About the Author
T. I. Lowe is a native of coastal South Carolina. She attended Coastal Carolina University and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she majored in psychology but excelled in creative writing. Go figure. Writing was always a dream, and she finally took a leap of faith in 2014 and independently published her first novel, Lulu’s Café, which quickly became a bestseller. Now the author of ten published novels with hundreds of thousands of copies sold, she knows she’s just getting started and has many more stories to tell. A wife and mother who’s active in her church community, she resides near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with her family.