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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This novel begins with a glimpse at what Leah’s life was like with her husband Brent. She’d spent years just trying to survive from his abuse. I would warn that some of this could be a bit graphic for some readers. Her life in the beginning was horrifying.
Fast forward to her search for freedom, Leah finds herself at home in a town she was surprise to be welcomed into. I enjoyed most of the storyline, but as I saw another review mentioning, the emphasis on food, weight, and physical appearance was too overpowering from what should have been the focus of the story. It stunted my ability to appreciate certain characters that were otherwise likable. Her value and healing should have never been measured against her diet and pant size. There needed to be more focus on the emotional healing than telling her not to drink soda or have a donut. She was painted as a healthy and fit girl before her marriage and had multiple reasons for her weight gain including injuries and a husband that beat her and refused to let her return to a gym after a man looked at her. I felt defensive of her as a character when I didn’t feel that I should need to when she was in the company she was with.
That piece aside though, I did really enjoy this story and appreciated how each of the supporting characters had a role in helping Leah come out of her shell and eventually find her way towards a path of healing and freedom from her past. I loved seeing a community come together to help a perfect stranger when she had no one to support her and no where to go. It really was heartwarming to see her come to realize she was safe and no longer a prisoner. It also was encouraging to see her heart soften towards God as she saw the people caring for her pointing her to Him. Even though I didn’t love everything about it, I still really enjoyed this book and would still give it a solid recommendation.
*I received a copy of this book through CelebrateLit. Thoughts and opinions expressed are mine alone.
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.
Read an excerpt of LuLu’s Cafe
The building was a two-story redbrick structure with expansive windows along the first floor’s front and sides. Each set of massive windows was shaded with sprawling royal-blue awnings, which were decorated with vibrantly painted sunflowers and whimsical white letters spelling out Lulu’s Café across the remaining space. It looked inviting from the outside. Peering into the window, Leah could see that the café was bustling with customers. Outside the café, the sidewalk was lined with wrought-iron tables and chairs. Every table was occupied with customers chatting as they sipped steaming mugs of coffee.
The sign for the store hours indicated that, Monday through Saturday, the café opened at six each morning and closed at two each afternoon, and it was closed on Sundays. Leah found the hours a bit odd. Most restaurants served dinner and were open on Sundays too, or so she thought. She reminded herself that she was in a new environment and that the customs from the West Coast probably wouldn’t apply here.
The café had its fall decorations on display as well. Large planter boxes overflowed with giant yellow and orange mums. One had a wooden sign sticking out from the middle declaring, Happy Fall, Y’all.
Leah was beginning to think the place was too happy and, more importantly, too busy for her liking, when she spotted a vacant four-person table right inside the door. She made her way in and slipped into the chair closest to the window. She deliberately faced away from the entrance, hoping not to draw much attention. Once she was situated, she noticed that the back of the café was made up of a large butcher-block counter that housed a bakery case full of treats on the right. The remainder of the counter was lined with half a dozen stools, with customers perched on each one. Leah noted approvingly that the tables and chairs were a variety of mismatched shapes and sizes stained in the same mahogany tint. She liked the relaxed, unpretentious atmosphere.
Leah watched a petite lady behind the counter serving up coffee and laughs. Her stomach began to rumble at the fragrant smells whirling around her, so she turned her attention to the menu resting on the table. Turkey sausage, turkey bacon, egg-white omelets, whole grain breads and cereal, fresh fruit . . .
Leah blinked at the odd menu. She gazed around at the customers enjoying their healthy meals. Her heart had been set on a stack of pancakes and greasy bacon. She studied the bakery case but found no donuts hiding.
“Humph.” She went back to studying the menu.
“I didn’t keep you waiting too long, did I?” A Southern drawl interrupted Leah’s thoughts.
Leah looked up to find the petite lady with a perfectly coiffed silver bob smiling at her. She was so short that she was nearly eye level with a seated Leah. Her clear gray eyes seemed to bubble with hospitality. Leah instantly liked the woman and gave her a slight smile, being careful not to stretch her bottom lip.
“Well, you gonna keep giving me that sweet smile or are you gonna order something?” the lady asked in a teasing voice.
Leah pointed at the bright-orange cursive L embroidered thickly on one of the lady’s apron pockets. “Please tell me you’re Lulu.”
“Of course I’m Lulu. Why do you ask?” Lulu smoothed her ruffled apron, which swam in a variety of rich blue swirls.
“You match the happiness of the place perfectly,” Leah said.
“Well, that’s the nicest thing someone has said to me today. What can I get you?”
“Coffee and whatever you recommend.”
Lulu gave her a wink and strolled back to the kitchen.
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To celebrate her tour, T.I. Lowe is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of LuLu’s Cafe!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.