Book Review

Heartbreak Cafe: No Experience Required by Janet Quin – Harkin

Heartbreak Cafe: No Experience Required #1
Author: Janet Quin-Harkin
Pages: 224
Genre: Romance
Publisher: Ellfie Books
First Published: 1989
Republished: February 14th 2021

Buy the Book (affiliate links): Amazon UK | Waterstones | Book Depository |

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! My boyfriend and I have a planned a not so very Valentine’s Day because It’s not something we massively celebrate, apart from last year where we went to Prague. We are both doing something later that we have been wanting to do for ages. Yes, that’s right, make our own donner kebabs instead of a takeaway. I will have to update you if this fails or not. Anyway, here I am with another book review!

Thank you Ellfie Books and the author for a copy of Heartbreak Cafe: No Experience Required in exchange for an honest review.


It’s 1989. Life’s easy for DEBORAH LESLEY: she’s up-market, drives her own flash car to school, and looks pretty good too. She’s never had a job, either; but now her parents have split up, and she needs the money.

JOE GARBARINI is cool. He likes motorbikes, girls, and fun. He doesn’t have time for much — he’s running Heartbreak Café when he’s not at school.

The Heartbreak Café is a noisy hangout on the north Californian coast. Joe’s worked there for years and knows what it takes. He’s sure Debbie won’t last a month — but Debbie’s determined to put up with his wisecracks and prove him wrong.

Debbie, Joe and the rest of the gang are all at the Heartbreak Café. Meet them in this sparkling series from bestselling author Janet Quin-Harkin.

My Review

What I Loved

I was pleasantly surprised when reading this book, I ended up enjoying and getting really invested in the characters and story. I enjoyed it so much, I read it in one sitting and now I am itching to read the rest of the series! It’s really fun and easy to read, the perfect book to sit down with and forget about reality just for a bit.

The Story

Debbie’s life is crumbling around her. The once lavish lifestyle with her parents that she took advantage of, has quickly changed to the worst thing she could imagine. Her parents are getting a divorce, she lives in a tiny condo with her mum and now she has to get a job. I thought I would be rolling my eyes at snobbish and spoilt teenager but I genuinely feel sorry for her.

After countless arguments with her mother, Debbie goes on a drive and ends up getting a job in the first place she sees. Which is none other than the Heartbreak Cafe. She first thought this was a grubby place where bikers hung out, turns out its a busy hotspot for teens and surfers. Everything is so easy to imagine at the Heartbreak Cafe. From the food they serve (including the chocolate madness!), to the 1980 interior design and even the surrounding beaches.

There’s only one thing in the Heartbreak that Debbie doesn’t like and that is Joe Garbarini. If he’s not at school, then he’s running the place and he’s trying to do everything he can to get Debbie to quit so he can win their bet. I love their back and forth arguments throughout the book and the feeling of will they, won’t they? With it being first published in 1989, I did think it would be a lot more cheesy and dated, I was surprised to see that it wasn’t. It ticks all the boxes in my opinion for an entertaining, easy romance!

The Characters

Debbie is a typical spoilt rich girl when we first meet her. She goes to the posh school, drives a convertible and her boyfriend is the popular quarterback. She is very feisty and if she sets her mind to something, she will do it. Apart from a few outbursts, she stays strong so she can prove to everyone around her that she can grow up and do things for herself. It’s never easy to adjust to change, especially with your family and I rooted for her not to give up. It was really nice to see her actually enjoy things and become more of herself.

Joe is one of my favourite characters but then again I always do love the confident, arrogant character. He’s not afraid of hard work and is very loyal to his grandfather by working as much as he can. He’s a very likeable character and I loved finding out more about him.

The rest of the gang that seems to live at the Heartbreak are all so lovely and fun. They all get along great and have such funny conversations, it was nice to read something light and easy for a change.

Overall Thoughts

Overall, this is a book that I would have enjoyed a few years ago and I’m so glad I loved it so much reading it now. It was the perfect book to snuggle up with and read after a hard day. I love how easy it was to get into and I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of this series. This is a great book if you’re looking for a fun, quick read with likeable characters and fluffy romance!

Rating: 4/5

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Buy the Book (affiliate links): Amazon UK | Waterstones | Book Depository |

Manchester blogger with a passion for reading, writing and travelling. I always have a book or a cup of tea in my hand.


28 February 2021 at 1:37 pm

I think I read this series first time around when I was a teenager! That takes me back! Glad you enjoyed

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