Thursday, 13 April 2017

Emma's Review: The Beachside Flower Stall by Karen Clarke

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Carrie Dashwood fled Dorset ten years ago when her best friend Megan stole her love, local heart-throb Tom. Now she’s back to help run her aunt Ruby’s flower stall in idyllic Shipley.

Trying to persuade herself that her feelings for Tom are in the past, Carrie plans to avoid him and Megan completely. But it’s not to be, because Ruby’s Blooms are arranging the flowers for Megan and Tom’s wedding.

Soon Carrie’s crawling under the stall to hide and accidentally inventing an imaginary boyfriend... But with the stall’s finances in jeopardy and Ruby needing her niece more than ever, Carrie has to keep her emotions in check.

With bouquets to arrange, family secrets to uncover, and Tom unavoidably a part of her life again, can Carrie keep her cool, save the stall, and find her very own happy ever after?

Amazon links: Kindle or Paperback

Karen Clarke hasn't kept us waiting too long for the second in her Beachside Bay series with book number two The Beachside Flower Stall following hot on the heels of The Beachside Sweet Shop. This was a nice return to Shipley to meet a whole new cast of characters although one or two make a reappearance from the first book. The story is a really light, easy read that you will fly through in a matter of hours. It's ideal for those who want to spend a lazy summer day lounging and reading in the garden as it's certainly not one of those books that requires every bit of your attention at all times. Instead you can let the story just flow over you or pick it up and let it down at your leisure, the choice is yours.

The book opens with the reader meeting Carrie Dashwood and her best friend Megan as they attend the 21st birthday of Carrie's close friend Tom. Carrie is building up the courage to tell Tom exactly how she feels about him. She can't keep it to herself any more and she needs to tell him that apart from being great friends since Carrie found the injured dog Hovis on the side of the road things have developed that little bit further for her. Now she wants things out in the open and is hoping her feelings may be reciprocated. But Megan soon has herself all over Tom and a combination of tall tales and misunderstandings sees Carrie running from the party and straight out of both Tom and Megan's lives. That is until ten years later when her Aunt Ruby is out of action and someone is needed to run her flower stall Ruby's Blooms in the small town of Shipley. Will a kind deed for a relative turning into something much more for Carrie?

Carrie was a likeable enough character but fairly early on you could see that she lacked major confidence and the events of the past, although ten years ago, still had a major bearing on how she thought and acted in the present. Having recently lost her job, this leaves her with no excuse not to come back to Shipley to take over the running of the flower stall whilst Ruby gets back on her feet. This may really be the kick Carrie needs to get her life in order. But likeable as she was I found her to be a really frustrating character at times. Yes she had her good side in that she was doing a kind deed for her aunt and I did like how the personal side of Ruby's story came to the fore and how Carrie helped with this, but at other points Carrie came across as very clueless and someone who needed a big push in both her personal and professional life.

I guess I wanted her to get her act together a bit more quickly and not beat around the bush over things. I understand taking on a job you have no experience of at all must be fairly daunting but she just seemed that bit too clueless when it came to the organisation and running of the flower stall. On the other hand I suppose some of this did allow for some humour when it came to describing the day to day events at the stall. It took a while for Carrie as a character to grow on me and it's only as she realised just how much trouble the stall was actually in that I felt she came into her own. Jane, a co-worker of Ruby's, was an absolute tonic and a welcome addition to the series. Her detailed stories of the reasons behind her holiday therefore leaving Carrie to fly solo were hilarious and so blunt. She spared nothing and didn't care at all what others thought of her and I love people like that and only wish I could be the same in some small way. It was also great to see Doris Day make a reappearance, she certainly brought a smile to my face.

Given flowers is mentioned in the title there had to be mention of what was sold on the stall and I liked how the meaning of each flower was given when Carrie was making up bouquets. Truthfully though I preferred all the sweets mentioned in the first of the series. The flowers didn't work as well for me but I know they needed to be there given the title of the book. This book wasn't all about flowers though it had two other storylines running concurrently. That of Ruby and why she has abandoned the flower stall and curled up in a ball in her flat refusing to see the light of day, and secondly that of Tom, now a vet, and engaged to Megan of all people. Ruby's storyline was sensitive and well handled. Initially when we didn't know the truth I thought oh come on you can see your business is not doing well don't leave everything to your niece who hasn't the first idea of anything flower related. I thought Ruby was being selfish and self centred but when Carrie uncovers the truth and sets about righting a wrong my opinion totally changed of Ruby and my sympathies grew allowing me to understand how difficult and challenging things were for her.

The second storyline is that of Carrie's. Apart from coming to grips with running the stall and trying to solve her Aunt's problems returning to Shipley has made her confront what she has been running from for so long, the issue of Tom and her unrequited love for him. So it comes as quite a shock when she discovers Tom and Megan are about to be married in a matter of weeks and the stall has the opportunity to do the flowers. I felt awful for Carrie when all you want to do is try and make amends with someone and see if anything can happen and then you discover that one night ten years ago led to so much more and now there is no chance of a positive outcome given marriage is on the cards.

Megan from the brief mention of her in the opening chapter came across as a user and a character that you are meant to dislike intensely and that feeling never really changed when we meet her as she is organising her wedding. She showed no respect, remorse or anything akin to friendship towards Carrie. I get Carrie had never told anyone about her feelings for Tom but there is a line you don't cross and Megan most certainly did. She had such an attitude of one up man-ship and she was always flaunting the fact that she had Tom all to herself. It really couldn't have done anything for Carrie's confidence. Megan was just a horrible character and I can't find one good thing to say about her. Tom on the other hand seemed so lovely but really he needed to feature far more, I wanted more interaction between himself and Carrie. There was too much of Carrie thinking things over, pondering how she should approach things instead of just saying exactly how she felt and getting the truth off her chest.

The Beachside Flower Stall was a good read but I have to say I much preferred The Beachside Sweet Shop. For me it didn't inspire that same feeling I got from book one. This book is not a bad read by any means but I felt one storyline slightly dominated the other and I know it couldn't have been left out but I would have preferred if the romance angle featured even more. I wanted more of Tom as I felt I didn't get to know him at all. The ending seemed fairly rushed and left me wanting just that little bit more. Having said all that I do like the series, this book is worth the read if you have read and enjoyed book one. I will return for the next in the series firstly as it will be a Christmas book which I love, and secondly I want to see will old characters and people we have met now feature again and therefore we get a chance to see what happened next or will it be a totally new bunch of characters with a new shop or stall to focus on?

Many thanks to Bookouture via NetGalley for my copy of The Beachside Flower Stall to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment