Reviewed by Emma Crowley
When the owner of Brides by the Sea, Cornwall’s cutest little wedding shop, offers Lily a job as their new wedding stylist, her first thought is – can she possibly pull it off?
Before she’s even sourced a fairy light or tasted a cupcake, Kip Penryn hires her services – but he’s opened an exclusive wedding venue in direct competition to her friend Poppy!
Lily feels like a traitor working for Kip, only everyone knows Penryn men are gorgeous but unreliable. All she has to do is sit back and watch him mess it up…doesn’t she?
Love is in the Cornish sea breeze this summer as the girls tackle their busiest wedding season yet. There’s plenty of bunting, bubbly and baking – but who is going to catch the bouquet?
Summer at the Little Wedding Shop is the third instalment of The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea series from Jane Linfoot. By now fans of this series will be well familiar with the various characters and their back-stories and will be eager to see whom this new book focuses on. New readers will find this story a complete delight to read as it is a nice, light, easy read perfect for the summer holidays. New readers needn't worry that they are missing out on what has happened before in these stories as the background information to each character is nicely filled in so everyone is up to date with where the characters are when we meet them just in time for the busy Summer season at the special shop that is Brides by the Sea.
I have to say I found filling in little bits here and there very useful as it was way before Christmas when I read the last book and I had forgotten characters names and what had happened to them and that's purely because I had read so many books in the intervening period. New readers may find the initial introduction of so many characters a bit confusing but you soon settle in to it. To me it was a much needed gentle refresher, within the first few chapters I once again felt right at home in the story and Jane has worked her magic and created a fun story based all around weddings with lots trials and tribulations to endure before happiness and peace can somehow be found.
This time around the story focuses on Lily whose life is now in free fall. She has split from Thom and on top of that she has lost her job and the accommodation that went with it. She enjoyed her job and had worked her way up to a good position in the hotel chain but this had taken her away from her long held passion of flowers and creating fabulous arrangements. Lily is back in Cornwall for Sam's wedding party and it soon became obvious she had been a long term friend of some of the main characters we had encountered and loved before. She seemed to slip back easily into the setting and it was evident the girls all shared a lovely bond that would see them whether the storms through thick and thin. So when Lily arrives at Brides by the Sea she is at a crossroads in her life and she is really unsure as to what her next move should be. But life has a way of guiding you in the right direction and of events overtaking despite what it is you think you may want to do. So Lily has no choice but to go with the flow with some unexpected people and situations arising.
All the old familiar characters were present throughout the story and I enjoyed how they weren't overlooked even though this was Lily's story. Everything I had previously loved about Poppy, Jess, Sera and Immie was here in abundance and it was nice that the reader could see their stories moving forward but yet this wasn't the dominant theme and didn't detract from the overall storyline. The one thing I did find frustrating was the overuse when referring to a wedding in the previous book of 'Sera's sister's wedding'. Why not just say the characters name and be done with it? This may sound so petty but when reading it began to annoy me but apart from that the story was lovely from beginning to end.
Jess, the owner of Brides by the Sea – a unique shop where all your wedding needs are taken care of under one roof, can see that Lily is a bit lost and so presents her with an offer that is very hard to refuse. Lily should come to work at the boutique and do all the styling of weddings. She would be there to guide the bride through every step of the preparations for her big day and with the offer of a flat thrown in how could Lily refuse? I loved how Jess came more to the fore in this book, I felt she had been hovering on the outskirts for just that bit too long. She is an entrepreneur and enjoys success but at the same time it never goes to her head and she is wise. It was brilliant to see her in indulge in some fun, flirty antics and it was a whole new side coming from her. Yet at all times I felt in a good way she was the mother hen of the group. Apart from the fact she was older she could often see what the others could not and would nudge them in the right direction.
There were several storylines throughout the book all around weddings and it made me realise how much work goes into a wedding, not just from the people getting married but the people behind the scenes who have to do all the organising. It's not helped by the fact that Kip Penryn who Lily remembers from her summers in St. Aidans has now decided to open up Rose Hill Manor as this top wedding venue. This is in direct competition with Poppy and Sam at Rose Hill Farm whose own wedding venture is only beginning to bear fruit. This 'opposition' forms the crux of the story and before Lily knows it she finds herself working alongside Kip styling his venue. She couldn't say no to him given Jess was pushing for it. I must admit I find some of this part of the book confusing in the early stages when they were sorting out Lily working for Kip. There seemed to be mention of doing it for six months and establishing connections with Jess' shop but to be honest I got confused and muddled. There seemed to be a lot of tooing and frooing but in the end I pushed this aside and just got on with reading the story. I could see Lily seemed to have an issue with Kip. Something must have happened in the past to turn her against him and given she wasn't looking for love she wasn't that enamoured with him and it seemed she merely tolerated him for the majority of the book. Yet to me Kip just seemed to be this man out to make a living and although clueless at first he began to show real passion for his venture. The character of Fred who seemed to crop up at every turn came across as creepy and just that bit over eager. It's strange how unexpected things occur when he is around. He seemed way too much into Lily and I wanted her to give him a firm no and tell him to back off. I know who I wanted her to end up with but I wondered would she ever see this for herself?
Aside from Lily having to deal with Kip on a daily basis, and the fact her mother is marrying a much younger man and seems to have taken leave of her senses, there were other things Lily had to cope with. Not least styling the wedding of Nicole who had been about to marry Chas the fireman in the previous book. Nicole was the ultimate bridezilla and her demands were over the top and would have pushed anyone to the limit. When Immie hears Nicole is now getting married the same day as her it's almost like bride wars ensued. I wouldn't blame Immie to honest as she was now marrying Chas and it seemed Nicole wanted to outdo them. The 'Instagram photo and follower' wars were hilarious to read about and I enjoyed this storyline very much. Her Instagram SparkleMonsterBridetoBe just about summed the entire situation up.
The book moved along at a nice pace over the summer months as the different weddings drew nearer and tensions increased. Lily began to grow in strength and she didn't seem as unsure of herself as before. Her love of flowers through the walled garden was a joy to see and I enjoyed how her character developed. As with any wedding it's not all plains sailing and the later half of the book provided plenty of conundrums and twists and turns until we reached the end. But was it a happily ever after for all involved? You'll have to read this book to discover the answers for yourself.
Jane Linfoot has once again written a cosy, sweet, uplifting book where after a period of absence it was like returning to visit old friends. Summer at the Little Wedding Shop is perhaps not my favourite of the series but still very much worth the read. I'll be back for another visit at the end of the year when Christmas Promises at the Little Wedding Shop is published.
Many thanks to Harper Impulse via NetGalley for my copy of Summer at the Little Wedding Shop to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.