27 October 2016

Book Review: Milkshakes and Heartbreaks at the Starlight Diner by Helen Cox

"Next time you’re in New York, take a turn off Broadway onto East Houston Street. There, you’ll see it: The Starlight Diner. A retro eatery curious enough to delight tourists and locals alike. Fifties tunes stream out of the jukebox long into the night, and it serves the tastiest milkshakes in the five boroughs.

Esther Knight waitresses at The Starlight Diner. She’s sharp, sarcastic, and she’s hiding something. Nobody at the diner knows why she left London for New York – or why she repeatedly resists the charms of their newest regular, actor Jack Faber.

Esther is desperate to start a new life in the land of the free, but despite the warm welcome from the close-knit diner crowd, something from her past is holding her back. Can she ever learn to love and live again?"

Rating: 4/5

I adore books set in New York, and I just can't enough of them if I'm honest! So, when I was offered the chance to read and review Helen Cox's new book Milkshakes and Heartbreaks at the Starlight Diner set in New York and a small diner, I jumped at the chance because it sounded just like my cup of tea... or coffee as it may be in the diner! This was a truly special book, one that wasn't exactly what I had expected but I loved nonetheless!

Esther loves working in the Starlight Diner, a small diner in New York city, but she's hiding a secret. She's moved over there from England but refuses to tell anyone in New York why she is there, just telling her colleagues she fancied a change of scenery. But when Esther meets newbie actor Jack Faber in the diner, she's worried he will get her to spill all of her secrets and expose her true self. Will she be able to keep her secrets hidden from those at the Starlight Diner, or is she destined to forever be making new starts?

From the cover and the title of the book, I had expected something quite light-hearted and fun. While we did get that in parts of the book, I felt it had a more serious overtone though than I had ever expected, which did surprise me. a lot. In fact, the main storyline, which I won't reveal as part of the mystery of this book is exactly what happened to Esther, was totally unexpected, and I felt very well handled by the author. It's a serious topic, something that needs to be covered carefully and with delicate writing, and this book definitely delivers on that. It touches on the emotion, the gravitas and the power of what happened to Esther, and how it has changed her perfectly, you can truly understand why she is how she is.

Esther was a bit of an enigma in the book, I couldn't quite understand her which is of course what Helen Cox intended, and as the book goes on and more is revealed about her past, you begin to sympathise and understand this character. I loved her close relationships with her colleagues, especially fellow waitress Mona who was just lovely, and the sort of person Esther needed while she was so alone in a big city like New York. Esther's boss, and some of the other diner regulars pop up frequently, and round off a great cast! The male lead in the book is Jack, the actor who takes a shine to Esther, but is a bit of a strange one himself. I was never quite sure how to take him, and whether or not he was being genuine to Esther. However, I enjoyed the progression of their story, and again as the book goes on and more is revealed about him, I became more involved in his story too.

The twists and turns as the book progresses were intriguing, and had me surprised in several places. I had guessed what Esther's secret might be, but that didn't stop my shock and emotion when it was all revealed. Helen Cox's writing was a joy to read, describing everything from the city to the characters to the diner (which sounded just amazing by the way!) in such detail, you really feel like you are there with these characters. The story absolutely hooked me in, I couldn't stop reading in parts, and I am pleased that there is going to be a sequel called Secrets and Fries at the Starlight Diner, and it's out in December! I can't wait to catch up with Esther, Mona, Jack and more... the end of this book certainly hooks you into wanting to read the next one as soon as possible!

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