Reviewed by Emma Crowley
Brides by the Sea, the cutest little wedding shop in all of Cornwall, has it all, including cake baker Poppy who lives upstairs. But wedding planning is not the piece of cake Poppy thought it would be, and when her best friend Cate’s wedding planner walks out, Poppy has to tie up the loose ends so her bestie can tie the knot.
Double-booked venues, ‘rustic’ locations and gorgeous but grumpy farmer Rafe have this wedding pro feeling like she could be Cate’s ‘something blue.’
Will the wedding, the shop and the cake all come crashing down on her? Or will Poppy pull it off to give Cate – and herself – the happy ever afters they deserve?
Cupcakes and Confetti is the first in a planned series from Jane Linfoot entitled The Wedding Shop by the Sea and also the first book I have read by this author. Book two Sequins and Snowflakes is to arrive at the end of September and after reading this gorgeous book I can't wait for the second to be published. This was a thoroughly enjoyable read from start to finish with plenty of humour, stunning settings, tantalising descriptions of wedding cakes and not to mention glittering, magical wedding dresses. There is something here for everyone who is a fan of the chick lit genre but also books which feature something that little bit different.
There is a huge amount of books published featuring bakeries, book shops, sweet shops etc but this is the first I have read set in and around a wedding shop and the surrounding areas. With such a huge influx of books in a similar vein there could be a chance people may grow bored easily with this current trend. I don't feel that way at all and just wish authors could write books like this even quicker. Once you finish one book like this you just want to dive straight into another. Jane Linfoot has brought her characters vividly to life with an engaging plot that has you turning the pages deeply immersed in the lives of Poppy, Cate and Immie not to mention all the goings on both at Daisy Hill Farm and Brides by the Sea.
The cover alone for this book is one which really stands out and when it was revealed on Twitter there was a rush of appreciation for something so simple yet so beautiful. The items on the window sill give hints as to the themes of this book weddings and cupcakes galore and who wouldn't want to be sitting at the window gazing out at the incredible scenery whilst you try on the dress of your dreams? Jane mentions that she writes fun,flirty fiction with feisty heroines that have a bit of an edge and that's exactly what I got with this book alongside a devilish handsome man who captured my heart immediately. I can honestly say I spent a pleasurable few hours totally absorbed in a wonderful story with characters I found hard to leave behind once the final page was turned.
The book takes us through the months from February to September - you could almost compare it to the majority of the wedding season. All the focus is not solely on weddings as it also has a few other storylines neatly slipped in. Poppy Pickering lives in the attic above the wedding shop run by Jesse, she creates fabulous cakes for weddings and any occasion and has a natural talent for it. Immediately the descriptions of cupcakes and icing etc was just tantalising and I regretted not having something sweet to hand to eat and enjoy whilst reading. Poppy has been hurt in the past and can't seem to move on. Baking and creating is her therapy but there will come a point where the money she earns is realistically not enough and she will have to take a move forward both in her personal and professional life. Hiding out in the attic whilst not confronting what her heart is telling her can only go on for so long before her heart and mind start saying it's time to move on with your life and place Brett and his antics firmly in the past. There is someone better for you out there and with a little help, support and guidance from friends Poppy can come out stronger on the other side.
Jess is the owner of Brides by the Sea and with dress designer Sera on board things are on the up with brides coming from far and near to sample all the shop has to offer. Even the descriptions of the shop were fantastic with the grooms wear section, scintillating shoe room, colourful cakes, fantastic flowers and the ever busy bridesmaid beach hut. Initially I did think the sole focus of the book would be on Jess, Sera and Poppy as they navigate the ups and downs associated with running a wedding emporium but to my delight Poppy's best friends Cate and Immie became the main feature along with Poppy. This left me questioning would Jess and Sera play a more prominent role in Sequins and Snowflakes?
Immie works as a cleaner at the holiday cottages on Daisy Hill Farm with the gorgeous if slightly stand-offish Rafe. The farm is the perfect venue for weddings, the only problem is the events co-ordinator has quit and friend Cate is due to hold her wedding there in September. Immie and Poppy know Cate deserves the wedding of her dreams and much more but what can they do if Rafe is going to cancel all the weddings that had been pre booked. Of course Immie has an ingenious idea - Poppy should apply for the position and if she doesn't like it by the conclusion of Cate's wedding at least she knows she did everything for her friend even if the venue cannot be saved. This idea seemed to come out of nowhere and I thought it was so admirable of Poppy to take such a bold and brave step to secure her friends joy and happiness. Yes she knew she needed to take a step put of her comfort zone and enjoyable as baking cakes is it really wasn't enough to make her financially stable. I was going to say Immie hadn't much of a storyline and being a single mum to fourteen year old Morgan could have been utilised much more but on reflection Immie had her dash of romance but really she played a blinder in pushing Poppy forward for the job. She obviously had a long term plan in place and knew Daisy Hill Farm was special and could work its magic on Poppy even if Rafe was an obstacle that had to be overcome. I loved this quote which is a great motto for life and really struck a chord with me as it proved so relevant 'Our scars make us who we are. Wear them proudly, and move forward.'
Once Poppy to her surprise gets the job as new events co-ordinator for Daisy Hill Farm the book moves along at a lovely steady pace and becomes full of mishaps and mistakes but also it is filled with some lovely touching moments. The story progresses through the months as Poppy tries to do the best for each wedding that has been booked whilst not upsetting Rafe. We really see a more mature, wiser Poppy emerging. She is ready to get stuck into things it's almost like she is a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis as she undergoes a transformation. Her confidence shines through but as for the more romantic element of things. I was shouting in frustration as miscommunication and an unwillingness to emotionally open up and confront true feelings played havoc but love never plays a smooth even game.
Rafe was a fantastic male character. He wasn't forced in your face but was there when needed. Just like Poppy I wasn't fully sure what to make of him, he seemed to be hiding things and could sound abrupt at times with the livestock of the farm more on his mind rather than the wedding side of things which Poppy was doing her utmost to save. I do have to say it's normally a dog that steals my heart in books like this but instead this time it was a chicken Henrietta who provided the most comical of moments just when things seemed to be getting a bit tense. I loved all the descriptions of the various weddings taking place on the farm and of how Poppy was an absolute star doing her best to please everyone. Anyone planning a wedding would do well to read this book as there is so much inspiration to be found and for someone who has no experience with weddings etc none of the elements of the story put me off. Nothing was overdone instead such beautiful imagery was conjured up nicely along with the hilarious antics of women who you would never think could turn out like bridezilla's. One of the highlights was Cate's hen do.It left me with tears of laughter streaming down my face and I was firmly glad it was the girls rather than me on such an eventful night out.
Cupcakes and Confetti was just a joy to read from start to finish, everyone who picks it up will fall in love with Poppy and be rooting for her. She is a character who deserves to put the past firmly behind her. To come out of her shell and embrace a new path in life. Sometimes we just need that little push from an unexpected source and although the road may be bumpy there proved to be lots of fun, laughter and mayhem providing her with just the tonic she needed. Take your time and savour every moment of the wonderful story which will put you in a really good mood. There are no lulls or boring bits, yes you may guess the outcome fairly early on but it in no way detracts from the overall storyline as there was plenty to be played out before we reached the end of a story that was captivating and sparkling.
Jane Linfoot was a new author to me but she has demonstrated that she has such a lovely way with words and descriptions and a unique ability to create settings and characters that you really care for. I'm more than eager to return to the Wedding Shop by the Sea as there must be more in store for this cast of characters or as I have mentioned Jess and Sera. Jane Linfoot has come up with a clever storyline and ran with it and to great success. The release of Sequins and Snowflakes can't come quick enough for me. Meanwhile do go out and buy this treat of a book as I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending it.
Many thanks to Jane Linfoot for our copy of Cupcakes and Confetti -The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.