Reviewed by Emma Crowley
The snow is falling around Brides by the Sea, Cornwall’s cutest little wedding shop, and wedding dress designer Seraphina East is in her cosy studio designing exquisite dresses to make even the most demanding bride’s dreams come true.
Unless the bride is her big sister Alice of course. Saying that the two sisters don’t always see eye to eye is an understatement. Alice hasn’t even asked Sera to design her wedding dress. But when an absent groom and ill-fitting dress threaten to ruin Alice’s happiness let alone her big day, Sera’s determined to give her sister the winter wedding of her dreams – even if that means keeping not one but two irresistibly gorgeous best men under control…
Is Sera going to end up being the maid of dishonour…Or will repairing her frozen relationship with Alice be the icing on the wedding cake?
Christmas at the Little Wedding Shop: Sequins and Snowflakes by Jane Linfoot is the second in a planned trilogy set in a little coastal Cornish village and centres around the very special wedding shop 'Brides by the Sea'. I really enjoyed the first book in the series The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea but do have to admit I far preferred this second book. Some of the Christmas books being published this year seem to be the second in a series and what I have read so far it seems that I almost always prefer the second book. This proved the case with this new wedding shop book, I felt all the setting up and introducing of the characters and their various situations had already been established in book one now we could get straight down to business and get on with the story which proved to be enjoyable and a page turner. Yes of course it's not necessary to have read the first book (again something I'm always saying) as the brief back stories of certain characters are slipped in amongst a paragraph but not so much as to give away major spoilers. You don't feel as if you have missed out not having read the previous book instead you are instantly enveloped by the cosiness and warmth of Brides by the Sea in the run to Christmas and all the hectic preparations for wedding dress designer Sera's sister Alice's big day. Of course a book would be very boring if it was all plain sailing and thankfully Jane Linfoot throws in plenty of ups and downs to test everybody to their limits, all the while creating a fabulous, cosy picture of Christmas in the stunning Cornish setting.
This book turns its focus to a character whom I felt got very little air time previously, that of wedding dress designer Sera. She works in Brides by the Sea which is managed by Jess who has been her mentor for the last number of years. Sera's talents have been nurtured and now she creates pieces which are always in high demand. She was there hovering in the background in the first book but now it is her turn to step into the spotlight and she has an interesting story of her own to tell as well as all the madness that will come with Alice's wedding. I had wondered why there wasn't much talk of her before but she really had been waiting in the wings and did deserve a whole book to herself. The other characters we had met do make appearances throughout the book and it was lovely to see how Poppy and Immie are getting on now without them dominating and therefore allowing Sera to have her moment.
Since people have started to sit up and take notice of Sera's talents the business has really taken off, yet Sera doesn't relish the attention or praise lavished upon her designs. She is someone who likes to remain firmly in the background labouring away in her workshop. She is very creative but easily distracted and at this moment is under pressure to produce her next collection. Yet inspiration has not struck and her trips to warmer climes to relax and design cannot happen this year as Alice the bridezilla will be arriving to have her Christmas dream wedding at Rose Hill Manor. Sera may love designing dresses but when it comes to being a bridesmaid it seems like her worst nightmare and when Alice declares she will be arriving late it's up to Sera to pick up the slack and ensure everything is in order for when the control freak that is Alice makes her appearance. Ensue chaos, laughter, mishaps and disasters which will have you laughing out loud and cringing in equal measure.
Alice and Sera have always had an up and down relationship. Alice is steady, always on top of things and has everything planned meticulously for her big day whereas Sera prefers to go with the flow and see where the wind takes her. But throughout this book she has to grow up and show a more mature side to her as she steps in as project manager. I felt she really grew up an awful lot and had to confront things that normally she would have pushed under the carpet. Sera is a person who always worries she won't be good enough that she has done all she can with wedding dress designing but I loved how Alice's wedding presented so many challenges and forced Sera out of her comfort zone. She had the support of Poppy and Jess but still the wedding slowly started to bring her closer to her sister and in a way the same could be said for Alice as she has to confront her own issues and insecurities and slowly learn to relinquish control. Jane Linfoot excelled in her descriptions of all the wedding preparations from the dresses to the manor, to the 'special ceiling and floor'. I could visualise everything so clearly in my head. The author also creates such vivid settings, be it the wedding dress shop which is like an oasis of wedding splendour yet it is also a place where Sera can retreat to if need be, to Daisy Hill Farm where some of the guests will stay. I had it all in my head which really helped bring the story to life.
Of course the book needed a little more meat to it apart from just the antics of wedding preparations and troubles although fun as they may have been. That came in the form of some tentative romance in the form of Quinn and Johnny both battling to be best man to groom Dan and therefore they fall under the radar of Sera. Although Johnny has been know to her before Sera appeared to be very closed to love and didn't want much to do with either of them and I felt this would have stayed the way only for the fact that the wedding was the main focus of the book really did throw them together in some crazy situations and circumstances. Both men had radically different sides to them and I never knew quite how things would pan out or in fact who I wanted Sera to attempt to find happiness with. It certainly was enjoyable to read of her journey and how we finally got beneath the exterior she had created for herself. It may have been the depths of winter and snow was all around but Sera's heart may just slowly start to melt. But will Alice's big day run smoothly or will she be brought back to reality with a short, sharp, shock? Will Sera embrace her new side and maybe some romance? Well to discover the answers I do recommend picking up this delightful book, it really does give you that warm, feel good feeling inside.
My complaints recently about Christmas books have been that Christmas doesn't feature much in the books but it does here in abundance and it was lovely to have a different slant to a Christmas book with the wedding as a focus. So I may not have read this book in December in fact I read it three months before the big day but still I got all the imagery and felt I was wrapped up in a Christmas dream for a few hours as I read Sera's story. Overall this book for me was far stronger than the first and I loved how everything panned out. Book three will be published next year - Summer at the Little Wedding Shop; Bunting and Bouquets and I am already looking forward to it. My only question is who will be the focus of book three.I have a vague suspicion but I could be totally wrong if Jane decides to introduce a brand new character, I'll just have to wait till next year to find out.
Many thanks to Harper Impulse for my copy of Christmas at the Little Wedding Shop to review via NetGalley and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.