Lulu's Cafe

Lulu's Cafe

by T.I. Lowe

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reissue)

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“T. I. Lowe has crafted a terrific novel with characters to root for. This author is one to watch!” —Francine Rivers, New York Times bestselling author of The Masterpiece

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781496439505
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 06/04/2019
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 210,093
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.80(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Tonya "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.  In 2014, Tonya independently published her first novel, which quickly became a bestseller.  Now the author of 10 published novels with hundreds of thousands of copies sold, she knows she's just getting started and has many more stories to tell.  She resides near Myrtle Beach with her family.

Read an Excerpt


Donuts ... Donuts make everything better!

"It's a perfect morning for a perfect donut. Welcome to the Donut Diner. May I take your order?" asked the perky drive-thru attendant.

"Yes, I would like one dozen donuts and two small cappuccinos."

"That'll be $15.76. Please drive around."

Gabriella Sadler had been buying donuts from Shayna every week for the past year, ever since Shayna's parents had added the drive-thru to their shop. By now the young woman knew Gabby's favorites: Bavarian cream filled with chocolate ganache icing, lemon curd–filled powdered, and apple fritters.

"Oh ...," Shayna said on a gasp as she opened the window. "Wow, those are some really hot wheels you're sporting, Gabby." The young woman couldn't stop gawking at the shiny new Range Rover.

"Thank you." Nervous, Gabriella tried to hand the girl the money.

Instead of taking the cash, the young woman studied Gabriella as if seeing something she wasn't supposed to.

"Hmm, I get it. This is one of those make-up gifts, isn't it?"

"I guess you could call it that," Gabriella said. She gathered her scarf closer around her neck. Stop asking questions and just give me the donuts. "I'm in a bit of a hurry, Shayna."

"I knew it was a make-up gift. I need to find me a honey who can afford a new Range Rover. You are so lucky." Shayna giggled.

"You have no idea," Gabriella said under her breath and tried once again to pay for her order.

Shayna finally took the money and handed over the fresh treats and coffees. "I hope you and Mr. Sadler enjoy breakfast."

"Okay. Thanks." Gabriella carefully set the box on the luxurious leather passenger seat. After placing the coffees in the cup holders, she steered the SUV away without another word. All she wanted was to be alone to enjoy her donuts.

As she pulled out of the lot, she fished out a Bavarian cream. She scarfed down the fresh fried dough in three bites and washed it down with some of the sweet coffee. Feeling a bit better, she headed toward the market. Today was Thursday, and Thursday was designated as grocery shopping day.

As she parked at the far end of the lot, her phone rang. She reluctantly pulled the phone from her purse and cringed at the name on the display.


"Where are you?" Brent asked in his cool, controlling voice.

"I'm almost at the market." Her stomach knotted as she sat there staring at the building in question. Her mouth watered as her fingers worked the donut box lid off. One of the apple fritters screamed her name. It was all she could do not to dig in at that moment, but he would know what she was doing. She didn't feel up to the tongue-lashing that would surely follow.

"You have one hour to be back home." Brent hung up.

"I hate you," she whispered into the phone before throwing it back in her purse.

She moved her seat back to make room for the donut box on her lap and then indulged in the remaining treats. She loved the privacy of the tinted windows on the silver Range Rover. It made her feel like she was in her own bubble. She refrained from inhaling the apple fritter in three bites. She savored each bite and then continued on to the homemade strawberry jam–filled one. It practically melted in her mouth. She washed the lemon curd–filled donut down with the rest of the first cup of coffee. Trying to fill the void in her life, she moved through the donuts until the box was empty and both coffees were drained. Then the dread of what she had just done pointed its disapproving finger at her.

After taking a few difficult breaths, Gabriella checked for donut crumbs and reapplied her lip gloss. Easing out of her vehicle, she gathered her trash and placed it in the receptacle she had purposely parked beside.

Just as she entered the sliding doors of the market, a wave of nausea and dizziness from the donut binge rushed over her. As she worked to regain her composure, she glanced at her surroundings. Standing at the produce area near the entrance was a group of local hens, clucking away. She couldn't avoid them. They had already spotted her, and there was no escape.

"Look who just waddled through the door." The tall brunette named Junie smirked.

"What in the world does Brent see in Gabby? I mean — really. Look at her." Sara wrinkled her nose.

"What?" asked their clueless friend, Hannah. "I think she looks like a porcelain doll with that creamy skin and beautiful hair." She shrugged as the other two laughed.

"More like a fat porcelain doll," Junie said.

"Hello, Gabby. Honey, I just love that scarf. It really makes that big ole trench coat pop," Junie said in her sweetest voice as she watched Gabriella grab a cart.

Gabriella barely glanced at them as she walked over to the tomato section. She tried to force the tears to stay at bay. "Thank you," she mumbled. She wasn't stupid, but she didn't feel up to being sassy back. She heard them snicker as she moved on to the fruit section. Sweat beaded on her top lip and the wooziness grew more intense. She knew better than to eat all those donuts in one sitting, but she just couldn't bring herself to toss any of them. Next time, she would only order a half dozen.

The hens moved to the checkout line, so Gabriella tried to focus on the task at hand. A wave of nausea slammed into her so forcefully she had to abandon her cart and rush to the restroom. She barely made it into a stall before vomiting up the donuts and cappuccinos. Severe pain radiated from her sore neck, causing another sudden bout of retching. She braced both sides of her neck and held her hair back at the same time. After the heaving passed, she flushed the toilet. What a waste.

Snapping out of the fuzz of the sugar overdose, Gabriella slowly moved to the sink to wash out her mouth. She glanced at herself in the mirror with disgust. She knew this qualified as an eating disorder. She gingerly rubbed her throbbing neck, feeling hopeless as to how to escape any of it.

Knowing that time was rapidly ticking away, she made her way back to the produce section to retrieve her cart. She placed everything on the list — yogurt, fresh fish, lean steak, fruits and vegetables, gourmet coffee, and skim milk — in the buggy. Brent was very specific as to what brands Gabriella could purchase and was adamant she keep to his precise list. She also gathered items on a mental list consisting of Oreos, Fudge Rounds, Snickers bars, Twinkies, and canned soda.

Trying to pick a new cashier, Gabriella made her way to the cash register. She separated the two orders, paying with a credit card for the things on Brent's list and paying cash for her own. As the cashier bagged the junk food, Gabby looked around; she was relieved not to recognize any faces. Taking a deep breath, she made her way to the Range Rover, loaded the groceries, and headed home.

Home was an ultra-sleek loft in downtown Olympia, Washington. It probably had once been a nice rustic space with exposed brick and worn wood floors, but there was no evidence of that now. Everything was modern with crisp, straight lines and a monochromatic color scheme of grays and whites. The only other color that was sparsely placed throughout the loft was a deep orange. To Gabriella, nothing looked inviting. The furniture was more for design than function; there was no give to the surface when you sat on the couch or on the linear chairs. It was a space that rarely had any visitors.

As Gabriella pushed through the doorway, her phone began to ring. Sheer terror shot through her, knowing it was only rings away from going to voice mail, so she dropped the bags and rummaged through her purse for the phone. Fumbling to hit Answer, she spoke before the phone was even to her ear. "I'm here."

"You're late."

"No!" She rushed to explain, "I was in the bathroom."

"What's wrong with your voice?" Brent's voice rose with impatience.

Well, let's see ... you nearly choked me to death this week, you sick monster. I tried to forget it by downing a dozen donuts and two cappuccinos. I got violently sick, and now I'm worse for the wear because of it. Gabriella pulled herself together.

"My throat and neck are pretty sore," she said quietly. "Brent, I think I need to go to the doctor." She knew he wouldn't allow it, but she hoped this would get him off her back.

"Just give it a few days. You'll be fine." He almost sounded remorseful. Almost. "Did you pick up the fish like I asked?"

Gabriella rolled her eyes. "Yes."

"Good. My flight is scheduled to land a little after five. I want fish and sautéed vegetables served at seven."

"Okay," she said, but he had already hung up. "I hate you," she whispered into the phone as she stared at her reflection in the shiny black-lacquered cabinet in the kitchen.

Gabriella considered how her life had been a nightmare from the very beginning. After surviving the foster care system, aren't I due some goodness in my life? Instead, I've moved out of hell and taken up residence with the devil himself in his fancy loft.

After putting away the regular groceries, she grabbed her junk food bags and headed for the guest bedroom closet that served as a storage closet. It was also Gabriella's holding cell when Brent couldn't take the sight of her anymore. She poured the individually wrapped snack cakes into empty shoe boxes and hid the other treats and soda in the far corner where extra water bottles were stashed. She gathered all of the packaging, carried it outside, and stuffed it into her neighbor's trash bin.

Once she made her way back inside, she glanced at the clock. She had about seven hours before beginning supper. She popped a couple of Tylenol PMs and headed to bed, hoping to escape the world for a while. She set her alarm clock and wiped away a tear. Her neck ached and her soul felt broken. She slipped off the scarf that concealed the deep-purple bruises and gently rubbed her neck as she stretched out on the bed. She mentally began to sing her theme song, "Fly Away" by Lenny Kravitz, as she waited for the medicine to kick in.


Excerpted from "Lulu's Café"
by .
Copyright © 2019 T. I. Lowe.
Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Lulu's Cafe: A Novel 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
KayMKM More than 1 year ago
This is a breath-taking, heart-stopping, emotional story of one amazing young woman and the people who loved her. I experienced so many different emotions as I was reading, but finished the book with a smile on my face. Some of the story is hard to read, especially for those of us who have been loved our entire lives. We need to be aware that not everyone is loved. Lulu’s Café illustrates how we, as Christians, could be more attuned to the needs of those around us. If you are looking for a meaningful story that will take you from the depths of despair to the joys of the mountaintops, I highly recommend Lulu’s Café.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pinman1968 More than 1 year ago
Excellent story about God’s unfailing love. Now matter our situation God sends people into our lives to show his grace and mercy. This book will make you cry and laugh out loud but more importantly it will make you think about what we can do to help each other. T.I. Lowe is an awesome writer who truly cares about her subject matter. A MUST READ
BethErin 12 months ago
Some stories are all sugar, spice, and everything nice, this story is more… more reality, more authenticity, more grit, more truth, more love, and more hope. Sometimes we need to be reminded, there’s always hope, even in the midst of crushing heartbreak and pain. Leah’s experiences are a fictional representation of the real lives of many who face these same critical issues. May her story open our eyes and hearts and motivate our hands and feet to serve these individuals. Crowley is a perfectly flawed hero and I love that the author didn’t create a knight in highly polished shining armor for this story. I highly recommend Lulu’s Cafe by T.I. Lowe and I’m eagerly anticipating her next release! I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was under no obligation to post a review. The opinions expressed are my own.
JulieJobe More than 1 year ago
Y’all, here is one of my top favorite authors ever! I discovered Ms. Lowe a few years ago when I read Lulu’s Cafe as an Indie published book. I have since read it countless times. It was one of the first contemporary Christian fiction books I had read where I felt like an author had done “real” and done it in a way that truly showed the gritty reality that life sometimes is. Her writing is some of the most grippingly real and honest I’ve read. She’s not afraid to address some of the deepest hurts we might face in this life. There’s no playing down of that pain, but she also shows a real and lasting hope with each of her books. Just as Ms. Lowe is one of my top favorite authors, Lulu’s Cafe is one of my top favorite books. Because Ms. Lowe doesn’t hesitate to show the raw reality of life, the abominable evil that exists that many have to face, there are portions of this book that are devastatingly hard to read. They hurt. But they are some of the most real moments I think I’ve ever read in fiction. Be prepared for your heart to break. It’s a tough read at points, but there’s a beautiful peace and a hope filled joy by the end. It’s a story that will touch you in the deepest of places. This real, raw grit of life accompanied by a quiet, but powerful beauty of healing and restoration points to something only God can do. He’s a master of redeeming the pain and the hurts this broken life on earth deals out. His power to do so, as well as His tender love as He does it, is clearly shown in this book. Leah is a woman who is truly strong. What she survives and endures is horrifying. And yet, she does indeed survive, and God directs her steps to the place where she can finally find what home, family, and love really mean. Crowley Mason gives heart melting new meaning. The way that he takes care of Lulu and so many others around him is quintessential southern gentleman. How he comes to care for, reach out to, and fight for Leah and their relationship is heart capturing and satisfying to the soul. And then there’s Lulu. Lulu is discerning. And wise. And the kind of love that is both tough and gentle at the same time. She’s a true treasure. In the midst of all the pain and the hurt, Ms. Lowe provides us with some real southern fun and humor and I love the voice that adds to the story. While I have found other authors out there who write “real” and do it well, Ms. Lowe has a unique voice to hers that I haven’t found anywhere else. She does real without glossing it over, showing the far reaching consequences of the evil that exists in this world. But she also demonstrates the beautiful restoration that God can bring about in a life, changing devastation to hope and the ashes of this broken world to something beautiful. PS: I do feel like I should add that some of the events in this book could be a trigger for victims of abuse, so please proceed with caution if that’s you and you choose to read this book. **I previously purchased this an Indie published book and again as traditionally published book. But I also received a complimentary copy of Lulu’s Cafe from the publishers. I was not required to provide a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.
Deana0326 More than 1 year ago
I had an idea what the book was about but not how in depth the author would go. To say this book made me shudder is pretty accurate. It's not because I didn't like it, but rather because it brought back memories of a life I had growing up . Violence was the norm in my childhood. I felt like I had no one to talk to or to save me. As I began Leah's story I found myself shadowing her and trying to give her encouragement. The brutal relationship she had was so emotional, I could feel every punch, kick and broken bone. The author shows us a woman who so desperately wanted to be loved, she excused the abuse with saying she must have done something wrong. What the author so eloquently does is takes a character who is lost, has low self esteem , broken and leads readers on a journey to healing. The scene in the hospital was so traumatic and realistic I applaud the author for not sugar coating it. Sometimes we have to hit rock bottom before we finally cry out to God for help. Lulu is someone who was placed in Leah's path by God. I don't believe in coincidences only divine appointments. Lulu knows without Leah saying what she has experienced. The bruises are evident and the lost look in her eyes bring Lulu to reach out. I think of this book as a book of hope and finding your worth. There is a special man that comes into Leah's life that has such patience I was impressed . He goes slow getting to know Leah realizing she has a deep secret that needs to be set free. We all have scars but some are visible while others are hidden deep in the heart. Those scars are what keep us in bondage and allow the enemy to taunt us. Leah felt weak and wasn't sure she could trust anyone. I love the book and how it shares the hope of a better tomorrow and a promise that "He will never leave us nor forsake us." We have to do our part and reach out to Him. I have to thank the author for writing a story that brings hope, healing and restoration to a woman who thought she was worthless. I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.
Deana0326 More than 1 year ago
I had an idea what the book was about but not how in depth the author would go. To say this book made me shudder is pretty accurate. It's not because I didn't like it, but rather because it brought back memories of a life I had growing up . Violence was the norm in my childhood. I felt like I had no one to talk to or to save me. As I began Leah's story I found myself shadowing her and trying to give her encouragement. The brutal relationship she had was so emotional, I could feel every punch, kick and broken bone. The author shows us a woman who so desperately wanted to be loved, she excused the abuse with saying she must have done something wrong. What the author so eloquently does is takes a character who is lost, has low self esteem , broken and leads readers on a journey to healing. The scene in the hospital was so traumatic and realistic I applaud the author for not sugar coating it. Sometimes we have to hit rock bottom before we finally cry out to God for help. Lulu is someone who was placed in Leah's path by God. I don't believe in coincidences only divine appointments. Lulu knows without Leah saying what she has experienced. The bruises are evident and the lost look in her eyes bring Lulu to reach out. I think of this book as a book of hope and finding your worth. There is a special man that comes into Leah's life that has such patience I was impressed . He goes slow getting to know Leah realizing she has a deep secret that needs to be set free. We all have scars but some are visible while others are hidden deep in the heart. Those scars are what keep us in bondage and allow the enemy to taunt us. Leah felt weak and wasn't sure she could trust anyone. I love the book and how it shares the hope of a better tomorrow and a promise that "He will never leave us nor forsake us." We have to do our part and reach out to Him. I have to thank the author for writing a story that brings hope, healing and restoration to a woman who thought she was worthless. I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.
JLYoung More than 1 year ago
This book deals with major real life issues. Heads up if you're sensitive to books containing abuse/trauma/miscarriage situations. This story begins tragically. The intensity of the writing is amazing but scary at the same time. I can't imagine what it took to write that. The author writes it well... descriptive enough so you get the dynamic of what's going on but with great care so you don't get too much. There's a bit of a shift in the narrative and the main character is in another part of the country. The story is lighter. You kind of loose some of the abuse storyline... what I mean is, it's almost all but forgotten. I think the author could have added some more PTSD type reactions and some more of the ways people struggle after getting out of an abusive relationship. I felt like you kind of loose that for most of the 2nd half of the book. It's there but I felt like it should have been more prominent in the character's daily life. Other than that the story ends much different than it began. I'm glad I had a chance to read this book. It was the first time I'd ever read anything by T. I. Lowe. I loved her writing and am looking forward to reading more of her work. I gave this book 3.5 stars. I received a copy of this book from CelebrateLit. I was under no compulsion to write a positive review. All thoughts are my own.
ARS8 More than 1 year ago
LuLu’s Café was an exceptional novel that will now sit on my all-time favorite list of books. While not an easy read, this story shows the depths of pain one woman can experience and how love can overcome all of it. There were so many great lessons to be picked up in this book and I will definitely be putting it on my reread shelf. First off several of the beginning chapters were hard to read. This story deals with spousal abuse and it is not pretty. So be forewarned if this is something that bothers you. The author does give us a prologue fueled with hope and I actually flipped back to those beginning pages just to get through the next chapters that told of Leah’s abuse. However, as the inevitable happens and Leah begins to heal with the help of those who really show Christ’s compassion and love, we watch as she blossoms into a completely different woman, one that she was meant to be all along. And as Leah opens herself up to love, we see how the past must be first dealt with to begin the healing process. In ways this book reminded me a little of the book of Job. I hope this book will help me see people with eyes of love instead of judgement and jealousy and to see people the way God sees them. This was a powerful reminder of that. I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.
NKBookReviewer More than 1 year ago
Author T.I. Lowe has created a novel that has a character I wanted to befriend It did not take long to become invested in Leah and feel some of her emotions. The first part of the book was difficult to read and tore at my heartstrings. Then the book lightened into a more fun, romantic tale. I was captivated by this contemporary fiction early and it kept me interested until the end. The characters are realistic. I am sure we all have friends like most of the. They are relatable and well described. It was easy to fall in love with Leah and want to be her friend. There are too many characters to mention that I loved. The author has filled this book with humor, twists and turns, and life lessons. Subjects tackled are relevant and timely. Spousal abuse and rape, fear, terror, forgiveness, new beginnings, friendships, truth, helping others, and hope are just a few of the topics in this novel. I did find it light on the faith and inspirational side, but it wasn’t altogether missing. One of the things I really enjoyed was how food, healthy and junk, was incorporated into this story. This was done in a nonchalant, easy way that should plant seeds of healthy choices and lifestyles. Loved that! Because of the abuse, I would not recommend it to everyone. A friend of mine in a somewhat similar situation declined reading the book saying it would bring back too many memories. This is for a very selective reader. I enjoyed it but thankfully have no history of being abused. There are discussion questions at the end of the book. With the right group of people this would be a great group read. I wanted to discuss it with people. A copy was provided by Celebrate Lit but I was under no obligation to write a review. These are my own opinions. I give this book a 4 star rating.
Ourpugs More than 1 year ago
LuLu Cafe Leah’s life was so much different before she came to LuLu cafe. Different name. Horrible life with her husband. After meeting everyone at LuLu her life changes. So hard for her to forget the past. Will she be able to overcome it? She meets Crowley. I loved his character so much. He was hiding things of his own but good things. The book is one once you started reading it is hard to put down. Definitely got me interested from the very first page. A story of overcoming and how things can change. I received a complimentary copy of the book from Celebrate Lit. I was not required to write an positive review. This review is my own opinion.
MaureenST More than 1 year ago
Right from the first page you wonder if this young woman will survive to the end, I can’t even imagine such abuse, and yet it happened. We walk with this young woman and her journey to find God, and on the way, we experience what her life was growing up in foster homes and then in a marriage from Hell. Would you ever be able to trust again? The author has written a wonderful story of her journey, and the people that are placed in her path. There is heart ache, love, compassion, a few chuckles, and a compelling page turner, you cannot leave this one! I received this book through the Celebrate Lit, and was not required to give a positive review.
Erin_Slocum More than 1 year ago
My Thoughts on Lulu’s Cafe: Holy cow! Just wow! I don’t know how to start. This book has so much shoved within the covers. It’s got so much for you as the reader to digest and even apply to your life today no matter where you are. Okay. So here it goes. One, grab a box of tissues. If you don’t cry several times throughout this book, I’m not sure you have a heart. It’s that kind of a book. Not necessarily that sad, though there are some truly sad moments, it just grabs you and sucks you in and won’t let you go! Whew. I could not put this book down. It captivated me. I stayed up very late one night finishing it and then I couldn’t go to sleep because I kept mulling parts of it through my head. It deals with lots of heavy issues. Some of those issues, so you’re aware, are foster care, abuse (very severe from a spouse), adult bullying, bulemia, using food as a means of escape, alcoholism, and probably more things that I’m forgetting to add but these are the main ones that stood out to me. There is also a ton about body image and how you view yourself versus how the world views you. A picture perfect life from the outside is never actually that. No one knows what goes on inside your home besides you and no one can say how they’d do everything differently until they’ve actually been in that situation. While I’ve never suffered the kind of abuse that our main character Leah goes through, I can understand her issues with food. You can turn to food as a means of escape. Tell yourself you need this candy or need that donut because it’s going to make you feel so much better. But will it? I really love the wisdom given in the book. Lulu is probably one of the wisest female characters I have met in a book before and I’m so glad to have met her here. Crowley is an enigma all his own as well. And then there is Leah, or Gabriella. Her character is the main one in the book, the driving force behind the story. And man, is it a good one, or a bad one, or really just a captivating one. I cried reading this book. It has parts that are so sad and make you feel such injustice for the characters. I can’t recommend this book enough. Now, some other things to consider besides the trigger words I used at the beginning of my review. There are references to needing cold showers and sex, but nothing graphic or anything that would make me not read the book. I think I remember some mild language that I skipped over as well. This is not a book that I would let my teenage daughter read. It is a wonderful book though. I have voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from Celebrate Lit. All views expressed are only my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC regulations.
5643437 More than 1 year ago
LuLu’s Cafe is a book that will make you laugh and cry and sometimes almost at the same time. However, I will caution you from reading this book if domestic violence triggers you. There is domestic violence in this book, and it is fairly detailed in the descriptions. However, I have to say it is handled in a manner to make it relatable. Gabriela is on the run from a violent past and believes she is responsible for her violent husband’s death. She also suffers a devastating loss when she miscarries the baby girl she is carrying. She takes on a new identity using her first name and her maiden name. She flees to a small community on the coast of South Carolina. LuLu, who runs the local diner. takes one look at Leah and provides refuge to Leah by providing her with an apartment to live in and a job. She demonstrates the love of Christ completely. She looks beyond the surface and recognizes Leah needs help. Crowley Mason, LuLu’s “almost” son, wants nothing more than to protect LuLu. He is positive Leah is hiding something and like a good son who is also a lawyer, he sets out to discover Leah’s secrets. During the course of the story and against their personal wishes, Leah and Crowley fall in love. The description of the scenery in South Carolina provides breath-taking pictures in my mind. I found myself longing to live in this small South Carolina community. Having people who look out for each other and genuinely care for each other strengthens the plot of this story. Though parts of the story made me cry, other parts made me laugh and shake my head – such as when Leah and Crowley have a mud fight. I also loved the part where Crowley takes Leah fishing for the first time, and she catches the biggest fish. When my husband and I were beginning our courtship, he took me fishing, and I was the one who caught the biggest fish. So if you want to read a book full of drama, excitement, adventure, second chances, and Christian love, check out this book for yoruself. I received a copy of this book for my fair and honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you are looking for a book that has “all the feels”, look no further. T.I. Lowe gives you all of them in Lulu’s Café. She takes the reader on a difficult journey, but one that will leave you smiling at the end. This is the first book I read of T.I. Lowe’s and I was immediately hooked. My heart broke for Leah in the beginning, but the path to healing and the love she received at Lulu’s Cafe from Lulu, Crowley and the whole town left me feeling joyous. You will not regret reading this wonderful book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lulu's cafe is a delightful story of a determined woman who overcame obstacles so difficult that they were at times uncomfortable to read. It is the story of kindness, compassion perseverance. You will not regret adding this beauty to your summer reading list. A page turner beautifully set in the south, you will fall in love with the characters and by the end feel as if you actually know them! So glad I picked this up!
WishEnd More than 1 year ago
3.5 Stars LULU'S CAFÉ is one of those stories that is just tough to read. It's brutally descriptive about abuse. What makes it worth the read is the friendship and love that comes after the heroine tries to find herself again and the faith woven through her story. The beginning of this book was really hard to read. I would have actually liked it more fade-to-black in the beginning, with more of pieces of the picture given over a chapter or two instead of the first 50 pages. But I've always been one of those people who don't need to witness brutality to understand it or feel the pain. So the beginning of this book wasn't enjoyable for me and I pretty much detached, which made it difficult to really connect with the story and heroine as the story progressed. The story is also very much told to the reader as time progresses, as Leah slowly heals, and as she finds a new life with friendship and the possibility of romance. Some things didn't work for me, but I kept reading. By about 150 pages in I was reengaged in the story, not that I didn't like the middle part, but more that I just kind of coasted through it without really feeling emotionally invested. The rest of the story I loved. There was more dialogue, I knew these characters better, Anna wasn't always annoying me like she did at the beginning, Leah was starting to engage more herself, Crowley had warmed somewhat, and Lulu had become dear. Then the ending... I felt like the summary of Leah's life before was perfectly handled and the ending was very, very sweet. I loved the way that faith was portrayed in these characters and their lives and the hope and care they have for each other. That's what really made this story for me. In the end, was it what I wished for? This was one of those reads that was difficult, as in a good portion was not pleasant reading and some things needed more development. Regardless, I fell in love with these characters and loved the last half of the book. It's definitely a tear-jerker with a sweet, hope-filled ending. Content: This story is definitely a more blunt representation of Women's Fiction and Christian Romance. This is both in regards to detailed abuse, drunkenness, and also some sexual innuendo, so it's one I'd recommend to 18+ readers. Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, which did not require a positive review nor affect my review in any way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book as part of my "T. I. Lowe binge" after discovering her Bleu Streak Series. Immediately, I was gripped by Leah Allen's story. You will find yourself wishing for more places like Rivertown, more friends like Ana, more caregivers like Lulu and more protectors like Crowley. By the end of the book, we know each character so well. I particularly like how the author doesn't rush developing relationships, making the storyline even more authentic. I aspire to be Lulu and have begun to pray, asking God to send or show me the Leah to my Lulu.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My goodness, I honestly do not know where to start with my review. Let's go with ~ MUST READ. T.I. Lowe writes amazing, heartfelt, Christ filled books about the hard things in life with such grace. Her characters are so well written and the scenes come alive with her ability to bring you right into the middle ~ including all the feelings as if you are there with the characters. Lulu's Cafe is truly a beauty from ashes book filled with so many emotions... one you will not regret readings.
Tanya Rosenau More than 1 year ago
If I could give this book a 100 stars rating I would! Lulu’s Café beautifully navigates the life of main character Leah who suffers unimaginable mental and physical abuse but is able to overcome her past with the help of a few loving friends and time. This southern charm of a read ends with Leah being able to find love again from none other than a knight in shining flip flops. T.I. Lowe is an author to look out for! If you don’t love this book then you can kiss my grits! ;-)
swt_angel_79 More than 1 year ago
Lulu’s Cafe was written by T.I. Lowe, a home-town girl, who grew up in the same places as me. The small-town gossip about her amazingly written book left me wanting to read it for myself and I was definitely not disappointed. T.I. Lowe and I have walked the same streets over time, the same well-beaten paths of beauty by the river and the beautiful Atlantic Coast that make up our coastal SC home. I knew every true, picturesque place she described in the made up town of Rivertown, SC. Much as Rivertown became “Home” to Leah Allen, the main character in Lulu’s Cafe, Rivertown is indeed “Home” to me. Leah’s life was not always sweet southern peaches and cream. She’d been through Hell in her lifetime – a Hell that few of us can even begin to imagine. Growing up as an orphan was only the faint beginning of this life she led. To everyone else, it seemed Leah, who was then known as Gabriella Sadler, lead a dream life. She was the wife of the handsome Brent Sadler who gave her everything she could ever want. If only the world would take a closer look, they’d see that Gabby’s life was not all roses and champagne. Only a few cared to look for the truth and those few couldn’t help Gabby. There comes a time when the abuse becomes too much and you fight back. I know because I have been there and though I wasn’t nearly as badly abused as sweet Gabby was, it wasn’t easy just to walk away. Still Gabby managed to break free and she started on a path to begin her life again. She headed South. In the South, Gabby began to grow and blossom, thanks to the great support she found in Lulu and others in Rivertown. She was known as Leah now, her name all along. She hid her past but began to look forward to her future. Lulu’s Cafe helped Leah find who she really is and that fine piece of man, Crowley Mason also played a hand in that. Coastal South Carolina leaves with you a lasting impression. The sweet little towns, the southern sass, the smell of wetlands and marsh grass are incomparable. I personally couldn’t imagine a better life than here and Lulu’s Cafe, T.I. Lowe’s debut novel, brings forth every bit of that beauty through Leah’s story. T.I. Lowe provides an experience you won’t soon forget and a connection to a place time has not changed. I truly look forward to reading more of her work in the future.
dana michael More than 1 year ago
This awesome book grabbed me from the first page. The beginning is a bit gritty, but it makes the reader appreciate the ending so much more. The author wrote it in such a way that shows hope, healing and love in surprising places. I loved the southernisms and most of all the hero, Crowley. This is an easy to read book and it will keep you turning the pages until the amazing and beautiful ending.
HeatherC83 More than 1 year ago
Lulu’s Café is an incredible story. T.I. Lowe does an incredible job making the reader feel like they are in the story. This book contains great characters that you will both laugh and cry with until the end. I have read this story twice and I truly believe I could read this story over and over. I highly recommend this book!
SRepnyek More than 1 year ago
This book is one of my all time favorites. I have read it many times! It's real. It's honest. It doesn't hold back on domestic violence and the devastation that it causes. But the best also doesn't hold back on FAITH. HOPE. LOVE. Violence can break a person, but HOPE and LOVE can bring new life. This book has ALL of this. From the first words to the will be drawn in and you will feel like you are part of this story. Anger, crying, hurting, laughing, and loving. ALL the emotions. That's what you will feel. All the emotions. T.I. Lowe is one of my favorite authors. Because she shares real life. It doesn't get more real than this. I HIGHLY recommend this book! I believe this is a story of life-changing hope. I pray that it will open eyes, hearts, and change lives. I truly believe that it can and it will. God is using this book to remind others that He can and WILL use the most terrible things and use them for good. God is a mighty healer and I believe this book shows that powerful healing.
JEMcHargue More than 1 year ago
I'm a lover of books that have so much imagery that I can see it playing out as a movie when I read. This is one of those books. Leah, Lulu, Crowley, all of the characters are truly felt and experienced as real people on the pages, and as a Texas girl I love the southern charm! Good good read!