All Aboard (Canal Boat Cafe #1) by Cressida McLaughlin

Title - All Aboard
Author - Cressida McLaughlin
Series - The Canal Boat Cafe (#1)
Publication Date - February 4th 2016
Publisher - HarperCollins
Format - Kindle Edition (Purchased via Amazon)
Pages - 64

Summer Freeman returns to the waterside village of Willowbeck to help with the Canal Boat Cafe, which used to belong to her mother. Valerie, a fortune teller, has been running things, but the business is in a pickle. The coffee machine is jammed, the cake offerings are paltry, and not all of the locals want to see the cafe succeed. And then there's the handsome wildlife photographer, Mason, from the boat next door, whose Border Terrier steals some bacon right under her nose. Her Bichon Frise, Latte, loves their boating neighbours, but Summer is less sure.

As her old life and the community of Willowbeck begin to entwine, Summer finds herself setting sail on a new adventure but will she find herself navigating choppy waters instead?

What an utter delight! Short but deliciously sweet, All Aboard by Cressida McLaughlin, the first part in McLaughlin's The Canal Boat Cafe series, was everything that I had hoped it would be and more. From the very first page to the very last, I absolutely raced through this and just couldn't get enough of Summer Freeman's journey back to the past in the picturesque setting of Willowbeck.

Now I have to admit, I am completely rubbish at keeping up with a series, much preferring to instead read the entire thing once it is published as a complete novel, but I couldn't resist grabbing a copy of All Aboard for myself once it arrived and dived in with great enthusiasm. I already knew that I was going to adore Cressida's writing. When her first series, Primrose Terrace, was published last year, I was only able to read the first instalment due to things being a bit hectic on my part, but from what I'd read, I knew that she was an author who, once I had the chance, could very well be one of those who I love to read. Apologies for my rubbishness, Cressy.

In All Aboard, readers are introduced to Summer Freeman. She's heading back to Willowbeck, back to the Canal Boat Cafe, originally run by her mother Madeleine and home to a thousand happy memories for Summer. And some not so happy memories, too. For me, including the canal boat aspect was fresh, exciting, and completely charming. It's something different and new, and as the reader, I fell completely in love with the boats lined up against the tow-path, each of them uniquely named and decorated. From Moonshine, which was home to the very mystical and very fantastic Valerie, to Sandpiper, hiding away the handsome Mason with his dog Archie and his camera, the boats and their owners were wonderfully colourful and enchanting, decorating this story beautifully. Hands down, canal boats have never been the focus in any book that I've read before, and I really cannot tell you how much I loved it. I could see them boats so clearly, their signs and colours popping against the gorgeous scenery of Willowbeck, and I was desperate to step aboard each one and have a nosy poke around inside.

Summer Freeman, Cressida's heroine of the Canal Boat Cafe series and sign-writer by profession, was lovely inside and out, but quite clearly fighting her very own demons within. Cressida constructed Summer so well, and I loved her personality and demeanour. Nervous and wary of stepping back aboard the boat she'd once loved so much, I couldn't wait to see whether she'd take the final leap and was interested as to why she seemed so unsure about everything. There were plenty of barriers stopping her from doing so, and even a few enemies along the way who I was incredibly curious about. Ups and downs, spinning in circles, it was obvious Summer didn't have a clue of which direction to step in, which is exactly when her good friends needed to appear. Harry, Summer's best friend, provides some much-needed guidance, alongside the wonderful Valerie, Mason, and not forgetting the rather annoying Ross who didn't seem to know when to take a freaking HINT! There were mishaps involving bacon, delicious brownies, cakes and coffee, and the confusion of whether Summer would be brave enough to take that final step. Alongside all of that, there was a gorgeous mystery unravelling that I was desperate, I tell you, to learn more about!

All in all, All Aboard by Cressida McLaughlin was an absolutely delightful way to begin what I feel is going to be a one-of-a-kind series. Warm, cosy, and a pure joy to wrap myself up in, Willowbeck and the Canal Boat Cafe have already become firm favourites of mine, and I really cannot wait for the rest of the series to see where Cressida McLaughlin takes Summer Freeman and her adorable pup Latte next. I feel like there's a real adventure ahead for this lady, and I can't wait to experience it right beside her. I'm cheering for you, Summer!

Becca's Books is awarding All Aboard by Cressida McLaughlin five of my lovely stars. An utter delight, charming and enchanting all in one. Something new, something exciting, and something I honestly cannot wait to read more of.

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