Book and a Brew with Ritu – The Gingerbread Cafe by @anita_faulkner_ #NewRelease #BookReview

I’m back with a second edition!

Today, I am thrilled to welcome a relatively new but nonetheless amazing romance author, Anita Faulkner. Her second book, The Gingerbread Cafe, is out TODAY!

Hello, and welcome to But I Smile Anyway, Anita! Let’s get you set with a drink first. I know you are a fan of a cuppa. I see you with your mugs on your Chick Lit and Prosecco Wednesday catch-ups!

I can offer you an English brew, or, if you fancy a little something different, I can always brew up some masala tea… or a coffee if you please? Let me know. Snacks a plenty, too, from biscuits (yes, even gingerbread) to samosas.

Ooh, now I remember reading about masala tea in your fabulous novel, Marriage Unarranged. And as it’s deliciously full of ginger, cinnamon and spices it sounds perfect for our bookish chat about The Gingerbread Café. Let’s put a pot on!

And do pass the samosas …

So, a debut author only a matter of months ago, and already you have your second book out. How does that feel? Tell me a bit about your journey from aspiring writer to successful published author.

The journey has been long! But like many things in life, it has been worth the work and the wait.

I probably started writing my first novel the best part of ten years ago, back when I was still a bolshie solicitor. But little did I know, writing and editing a 100,000-word novel – and then trying to get it published – was no walk in the park!

That first novel (which I rewrote at least three times) will probably always live in a dusty drawer. It was rejected a million times over, but the feedback I got about it from the fabulous Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme taught me so much and enabled me to go on and write something so much better.

Then through the RNA, I met my fantastic publisher Little, Brown (Sphere) and award-winning agent Kate Nash. By some glorious miracle, they both loved A Colourful Country Escape, and it became my debut.

My festive romcom The Gingerbread Café is hot on its heels.

Do you feel a special affinity to either of the books you have written?

As I’m sure you’ll agree, wonderful Ritu, creating a novel is kind of like bringing a baby into the world. And much like children, each will hold a special place in your heart – for their own unique reasons.

Oh, I 100% agree, Anita! I always call them my Book Babies!

The Gingerbread Café is dedicated to my friend Gina, who sadly passed away unexpectedly – and far too young – whilst I was writing the story. Gina had plans to write her own book and even gave me some ideas for this one. (Look out for Cedric the Shih Tzu who wears crystals in his bandana.) So this story will always be dear to me, partly for that reason. I wrote it for Gina.

I am always curious as to where my authorly friends like to create their wonderful stories. Where do you like to write? 

I bounce around, depending on my mood! Do you do that too, Ritu? Or are you always in that gorgeous writing space of yours? I’ve seen the pics!

I do love my little writing space! But some days I may be in my bed, or in the conservatory, too!

I have an upcycled writer’s bureau that I absolutely love. From there, I can look out onto the garden and daydream. (It also has cute little drawers for pretty paperclips and coloured post-its. My eight-year-old self is in heaven!) Gotta love a garden view!

In the winter, I like to cosy up on the sofa with a blanket and a candle. (Not too close together – that would probably end in a blazing disaster.) I even have a hot water bottle on my lap for extra cosy vibes!

But if I need to crack on without gawping at birds or faffing with mood lighting, I use my desk upstairs. Although I am planning to redecorate it with a peacock theme to tie in with Lexie’s adventures in A Colourful Country Escape …

I met you through your wonderful Facebook group Chick Lit & Prosecco, which is a hugely successful group filled with romance writers and readers, so I know romance is your passion. Why romance? Have you ever toyed with the idea of writing in a different genre?

Writing romance is such a joy, isn’t it? (In fact, even when I’m reading another genre, I’m rooting for someone to fall in love along the way.)

Gotta love a bit of romance, Anita!

My books always contain a storyline outside of the romantic bit. My heroines (and heroes) are fighting for something that will challenge them and shape their growth. In The Gingerbread Café Gretel needs to get over her grief for her mother and sister, and to shake off her unhealthy obsession with Christmas. And of course, she needs to take a giant leap out of her comfort zone to try to run the café she’s inherited – when she has never been sociable, and she seriously can’t bake!

But of course, I live for the love story too. As my characters push through their struggles and grow, they become ready to accept love – because they can finally accept themselves.

I wouldn’t know where to start with writing in a different genre, but I do love reading widely. I’ve been into a few cosy mysteries and psychological thrillers at the moment, and there’s a lot to be learned from those twisty plots and that page-turning pace.

Do you love a bit of murder too, Ritu?

I’m okay with reading psychological thrillers, but I have never felt the inclination to write them. I am not sure I could write murders, and the plots are so complex, I don’t think my brain works that way! Gosh!

I think we need more tea. Time for a top-up before we carry on, and maybe we could nibble on a gingerbread man, as we go!

Anita, I loved your debut, A Colourful Country Escape. Those peacocks were a hilarious addition. I have to say we have an orange vintage VW camper that is seen around our local area, and it now reminds me of Lexie! Was that the first novel you had ever completed, or had you written others before that haven’t been published?

Ha ha, we’re back to that dusty old drawer book! I think a few of us writers have those, and it always helped me as a budding author to hear about them. I went to a book talk once with an international bestselling debut author, and she admitted that she still had four dusty old rejects that had never been published.

Quite often those are the books that help us learn and grow. Whilst I don’t plan to go back to it any time soon (or indeed ever!) I’ll always have a soft spot for it.

(In fact – Secret Squirrel. If you’ve read Sky’s wedding scene in A Colourful Country Escape, you’ll have met Lexie’s friends Mia and Jake, who were the main characters in the aforementioned dusty tome. Ooh …)

Maybe it won’t stay in that drawer… it could get a little dust off and become a reader magnet for your newsletter… you know, sign up and receive a little extra something from me! Food for thought, my friend.

Now, let’s get back to the book of the moment, The Gingerbread Café. I was lucky enough to receive an arc, and I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Gretel and Lukas. What was your inspiration for this Christmas-themed story?

Since I came across so many fabulous authors in my Facebook group Chick Lit and Prosecco, I’ve become a little obsessed with Christmas novels. (Hello Jaimie Admans, Katie Ginger, Sandy Barker, Leonie Mack, Kitty Wilson … and so many more!)

Festive reads can be so enchanting, and I just wanted to play around with some of that Christmas magic. So I kind of thought ‘what’s the most Christmassy thing I can think of?’ And so perpetually Yule-addicted Gretel and her Christmas-themed gingerbread café were born! From there, I kept sprinkling on the Christmassy-ness.

Obviously, as the title suggests, gingerbread is a running theme through the book. Are you a baker? Or do your attempts mirror those of our lovely main character, Gretel?

Oh, I’m a definite Gretel-style baker! That’s to say if you’re brave enough to enter my kitchen after some baking has gone down, you’ll think there’s been an egg fight in a snowstorm. Think gunk on every surface, enough washing up to sink Santa’s sleigh, and a whole lot of burnt stuff.

Thank goodness we have your delicious samosas, Ritu! I should never be left in charge of the food.

I am thrilled you are enjoying them. Thank goodness for mums passing down recipes, eh!

I have told you this before, but you have found a proper fan in me with your two books so far. (Fan-girl moment that you are here on my blog!) Tell us, what is in the pipeline for the rest of your soon-to-be fans? Any sequels to your two stories, or are you branching out with some new characters in your next book?

I’m currently working on a brand new series which is set on a lavender farm. That may be subject to change, as it isn’t yet under contract. But in the meantime, I’m having a whole lot of fun with it, and in my wildest dreams, I can see it growing into something quirky but wonderful.

The main character in the first book of the series is Bea, who we meet in The Gingerbread Café. In Gingerbread she runs a shop called Lavender & Honey, where she sells produce from the farm. But I have some exciting new plans for her! And I’m hoping that you’ll see some of the characters from A Colourful Country Escape and The Gingerbread Café in that series too. But we’ll see! Fate will decide.

I love this, and cannot wait, Anita!

Do share the gossip on what you’re working on, Ritu. I need more of your fantastic stories in my life.

Aw, thank you so much for asking. Editing on book two in the Rishtay Series is going on, right now, since I had my alpha and sensitivity reader feedback, with a June 2023 release date, to coincide with Pride Month. (Big hint about the content in that release date, there!) And book three is taking shape in my mind and on paper, ready to start writing, soon!

Well, the teapot is almost empty. I am ready to brew another, Anita, but I know you have different places to visit, as your release date is today. I wish you and your beautiful story heaps of luck, and we will have to carry on this conversation when it’s time for the next release!

Thank you so much for visiting, Anita. It’s been a pleasure.

Thank you so much for these brilliantly fun questions and for inviting me on your blog. 

My pleasure 😊

So, not only is there Anita’s newest release, but news on a new series to come! I can’t wait!

Now, as I mentioned before, I was lucky enough to read an ARC of Christmas At The Borrow A Bookshop, so let me share the blurb and my review.

The Blurb

Can Gretel find the recipe for the perfect Christmas?

The Gingerbread Café is always full of Christmas magic. Come rain or shine (or even a July heatwave), there’s always a hot chocolate bursting with cinnamon and marshmallows waiting for you. For introverted Gretel, it’s been the perfect escape from ‘real life’. The owner, Nell, is Gretel’s last link to her late mum, and hiding out at the café feels so much safer than making new friends.

So when Nell suddenly passes, Gretel is left heartbroken. Then she discovers that Nell has left the café to her – but there’s a catch. Gretel has to share the running of The Gingerbread Café with the least festive person ever: Nell’s nephew, Lukas. Head chef at the local fancy restaurant, Lukas makes it clear he has no time for the café, Gretel or even Christmas itself, and Gretel’s too busy struggling to save her burnt batches of gingerbread to work out why.

Gretel is determined to keep Christmas alive and make the café a success before Lukas hands the keys over to the scrooge-like developers. But she can’t do it alone; besides an over friendly ferret and a waitress with a secret, the only person she has now is Lukas. Will it take a Christmas miracle to get the pair to finally see eye to eye, or could the ice already be melting?

Packed full of sugar and spice, The Gingerbread Café will tick all the wishes off your Christmas list this festive period. Perfect for fans of Heidi Swain, Jo Thomas and Bella Osborne.

My Review

The Gingerbread Cafe by Anita Faulkner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Many thanks to NetGalley and The Little Brown Book Co UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Anita Faulkner is a relatively new author on the block, but, having already read her debut, A Colourful Country Escape, I was brimming with excitement to read her soon-to-be-released The Gingerbread Cafe, and I was not disappointed one bit!
Gretel is stuck in a time warp, replaying all that is Christmas in her life every day because it’s the safest way. Memories she doesn’t want to forget about people she has lost, all attached to the festive season.
And what better place to be able to relive them than in the village’s all-year-round Christmas-themed coffee shop, The Gingerbread Cafe, run by Nell, a person who has been her surrogate mother for many years.
Then illness takes that one person who grounds her but leaves her with a gift she had never expected. the ownership of said cafe. Or rather, shared ownership with Nell’s grumpy nephew, Lukas, an up-and-coming head chef with aspersions much higher than a lowly cafe, themed around the season he hates the most. And worst of all, the Will conditions state that they are stuck with each other and the cafe for a while before they can be rid of one another.
I loved the way this story developed and how each main character found themselves, more and more as the pages were turned,
Gretel needed to learn that she could live in the now and that not all memories had to be lived constantly, and Lukas had to find a way to fulfil his real dreams, not those he was expected to have,
No story is complete with a decent cast of characters, and the village of Mistleton was not lacking, I tell you! The other shop owners of the village, as we came to get to know them, each brought much colour and wisdom to the journey Gretel found herself on, as well as Amber, the mysterious, sort-of waitress, with her strange uniform, and straight-up wisdom, even though her mouth needs to be reined in sometimes.
And then, our villain of the piece, Francesca Wimple, or Swingy Bob, is determined to strip all the local villages of their individuality and character by turning everywhere into franchise-run high streets.
The review wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention Angel Gabriel, Gretel’s pet ferret, who plays a starring role in the story with his little squeaks and quirks.
I feel all gooey inside after reading this. I finished it in a day, and now I really want to go to Mistleton, sample all the gingerbread goodies and hot chocolate in the cafe, and visit the other wonderful independent shops that line Green Tree Lane!
A wonderful second book by this author who is fast becoming an instant buy fave of mine!


And here are some links about Anita and her other book.


Have a Nosey at Anita’s website:

Join Anita’s Mailing List

Join us in Anita’s Facebook group – Chick Lit and

Follow Anita on Twitter:

Follow Anita on Instagram:

19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kiley Dunbar
    Nov 03, 2022 @ 23:14:32

    Oh I loved this chat! Thank you ladies! And I absolutely loved this book too. Such a gorgeous Christmas read. I knew you’d agree, Ritu! xx

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Smorgasbord - Variety is the Spice of Life.
    Oct 29, 2022 @ 08:48:48

    Looks like a lovely book… congratulations Anita and thanks Ritu ♥

    Liked by 1 person


  3. Marje @ Kyrosmagica
    Oct 28, 2022 @ 10:43:44

    Lovely promo for a new author to me – fantastic book and brew, Ritu!

    Liked by 1 person


  4. sandybarker
    Oct 27, 2022 @ 21:52:24

    Cannot wait for this one! I absolutely LOVED Anita’s first book.

    Liked by 1 person


  5. Colleen M. Chesebro
    Oct 27, 2022 @ 15:32:30

    What a great post, Sis. I love the “Books and a Brew with Ritu!” So cute. Thanks for introducing me to a new author. 🧡

    Liked by 1 person


  6. joylennick
    Oct 27, 2022 @ 09:34:22

    Great to see younger writers ‘getting their teeth in’ to coin a phrase. (Younger to me, is around the fifty mark, as I am really ancient!) Anita’s books sound fun reads, and whether religious nor not, Christmas is always a charismatic time. The very best of luck to Anita, and to you too Ritu for the reviews. Gracias!

    Liked by 1 person


  7. beth
    Oct 27, 2022 @ 08:32:46

    these sound great and I love her story of not giving up when trying to publish

    Liked by 1 person


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