Sunday, 23 July 2017

Emma's Review: Wedding Bells at Butterfly Cove by Sarah Bennett

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

A second chance by the sea?

When Kiki Jackson’s marriage falls to pieces, there’s only one place that she knows she can escape to – her sister’s little guesthouse in Butterfly Cove.

But she’s worried that turning up on bride-to-be Mia’s doorstep, especially with her two adorable children in tow, will spoil her sister’s imminent wedding plans!

Luckily, handsome neighbour Aaron Spenser offers to share his new cottage with Kiki until she’s back on her feet. And as the wedding draws closer, Kiki realises that Butterfly Cove may be offering her little family more than just a new home…

Maybe this is where her new life begins…?

Amazon link: Kindle

Ever since I finished Sarah Bennett's d├ębut novel Sunrise at Butterfly Cove I have been impatiently waiting for the follow up Wedding Bells at Butterfly Cove. Thankfully the wait was but a few short months. Even though this new story is the second in a planned trilogy it can easily be read as a standalone book. In the first book, I had totally fallen in love with the characters and setting so much so you believed they were real people.

Here in this new story in the initial few chapters, little snippets were effortlessly slipped in so the reader can understand what happened in book one. As well as bringing Mia and Daniel's story forward we now turn our attentions to the second sister Kiki. Now I have a sense as to where this series is going in the fact that each book will focus on a different sister and her problems, I felt I relaxed even more into this story. I enjoyed how Daniel and Mia still feature but weren't as prominent as before but they didn't need to be as the majority of their story had been told. Now was the time for Kiki to step into the spotlight and similar to Mia the time had come in her life where life altering decisions had to be made for if they weren't who knows what path the rest of her life would take.

Sunrise at Butterfly Cove was one of those books that just engulfed in you in a huge hug and made you feel all warm and good inside. I didn't get quite the same feeling from this book but I still enjoyed it nonetheless. Butterfly Cove comes across as such a magical and inspiring place. People arrive there not realising how much they need to heal or even just to admit to themselves that something is wrong in their personal life and it needs sorting asap. Sarah Bennett has such a way with words of describing the setting of the newly renovated main house now just about to open as a guest house that you wish you could book in for a stay. Daniel is busy working with Aaron and sometimes Luke converting the outdoor barns into a retreat for artists. Something which is close to his heart.

Everyone who is involved with Butterfly Cove all have a purpose in wanting it to be a success. Each character has been dealt a rough hand but through friendship, support and just kind words and advice they can get through anything. So when Kiki, Mia's sister, who we had briefly heard about in the first book reaches that point in her life when she finally realises no good can come of the situation she is in and she decides to leave her painful marriage, Butterfly Cove seems the obvious choice to go to come to terms with everything. Although relations with Mia have been strained a helping hand will always be extended.

Mia and her sisters seem to just go through so much in their personal lives and there is a sense that their upbringing and the more than strained relationship with their parents is a major factor in this. It goes to show that the way we are reared and the connections we have with our parents and family have a huge bearing on how we live as adults. Kiki has been in a loveless marriage to Neil for such a long time. She has two beautiful children Matty and Charlotte and that's what keeps her going. The children were such brilliant characters who offered such light relief when I felt things were getting that bit tense. They were the glue that held Mia together and as the story progressed they brought out a different side to Aaron and in a way helped him to come to terms with his own internal struggles.

Kiki was a character who I felt was just at that point where she wanted to give up. For years she had been belittled by Neil, both physically and emotionally, and it comes to a time where a choice has to be made. Do I continue the way things are with my children living in fear of upsetting their father over the simplest thing? Or does she have the strength to say I want out. I think Kiki was so entrenched in a daily life of dread and anguish that without a secret she happened upon she would have remained married to Neil and in doing so would have missed out on so much happiness. Neil was an absolute beast, a horrible character who ruled through his harsh words and his domineering, menacing attitude and I hoped he would be firmly put in his place.

I was cheering for Kiki as she finally took the plunge and left Neil and I knew that the residents of Butterfly Cove would welcome her with open arms and give her that strength and support she badly needed to put the past firmly behind her. It was good that everything wasn't all plain sailing for her as that wouldn't have been true to real life. I know this is a fiction book but the topic being covered is sadly an everyday occurrence so it was realistic to see that once the first step is made, there are many challenges still awaiting. Kiki to me seemed naive at first that things with Neil could change but it's only as the break is made that the reader slowly starts to see another side of her emerge. I couldn't say as with other characters in books that she became super strong. I felt there was that hesitancy there, that she didn't believe she was good enough or had the capabilities to bring her children up herself. She needed the encouraging words of Mia, Daniel, Aaron and the older couple Madeline and Richard to change and accept the new Kiki to see that she was a good person and had the willing and know how to embrace a new life.

Aaron was a character who had featured briefly in book one and we got to know him so much more here. Similar to Kiki I felt he was haunted by something and until he found some sort of resolution he couldn't move forward with his life. Aaron was a very selfless character. OK I believed his decision to give up his London life and just buy a house near Butterfly Cove was a rash one but the fact without even knowing Kiki and her children he gave them a space to live in whilst they figured their next move was just such an incredible thing to do. I felt both himself and Kiki were going through their own battles and I could see how I wanted things to develop but I understood the questions raised in the book. How soon is it acceptable to move on? Does it look wrong from the outside looking in? Both were so vulnerable and sometimes it takes others offering a different perspective to help us see the true path we need to take.

The more I read, the more I enjoyed seeing how all the strands of the story were developing as well as the imminent wedding preparations for a couple I had adored in the previous book. I had worried that nothing was happening regrading the title of the novel but thankfully it got plenty of mentions in the latter half of the book. Wedding Bells at Butterfly Cove was a lovely easy read and although I preferred Mia and Daniel's story I will definitely be making a final visit to Butterfly Cove when Christmas at Butterfly Cove is published. I am very intrigued to discover how the final sister Nee's story unfolds as there was a huge surprise towards the end of this book.

Sarah Bennett has been a wonderful new author to discover this year and her Butterfly Cove books have certainly brightened up my day as I read them.

Many thanks to HQ Digital for my copy of Wedding Bells at Butterfly Cove to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.

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