Christmas at the Cat Cafe by Jessica Redland

I am not a fan of Christmas-themed books, but as there were cats involved I thought I would make an exception. Having said that, it’s not really a Christmas book either. Tabby has always dreamed of working with cats, so when a legacy gives her the opportunity to set up the Castle Street Cat Café, she jumps at the chance. The plan was for her to run the café jointly with her boyfriend Leon. It turns out that he was not quite so invested, and abandons her to work as a chef on a cruise ship. Recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia, Tabby is not sure how she will cope on her own. She has deliberately downplayed the seriousness of her illness, but now has to open up and ask her family and friends for help, or give up on her dream.

This is the only book I have read by this author, and one of the things I particularly liked was the sense of community among all the small businesses in Castle Street, something I believe she has written about before. I love cats, but even I could not envisage living with as many as Tabby does here. I gave up trying to remember all their names, though one or two did stand out. The main problem I had was the amount of information the book contained about living with fibromyalgia. I appreciate it is a seriously debilitating condition, and I have every sympathy for anyone who suffers from it, or any other chronic illness, but in places it read more like a medical guide than fiction.

The story is told entirely from Tabby’s perspective, so we don’t know what Tom is thinking and can only judge by his actions. It is obvious from the start that he has feelings for Tabby, but it is not clear what she thinks. As they have known each other since childhood, they already have a strong bond, so it is not much of a leap for them to become romantically involved. The characters all seemed a bit flat and lacking in depth. The vandalism strand did not add much to the story – in fact, it was highly unlikely, as cat cafes exist partly to foster and rehome stray and unwanted cats, so what is there to object to. I enjoyed Christmas at the Cat Café, but not as much as I was expecting to. Thanks to Boldwood Books and NetGalley for a digital copy to review.