Thursday, 7 December 2017

Emma's Review: Christmas at Butterfly Cove by Sarah Bennett

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

All she wants for Christmas…

When talented artist Nee Sutherland returns to Butterfly Cove for her sister’s wedding, it’s only a matter of time before she has to face her own bridegroom – Luke Spenser – the man she impulsively married, then left in the middle of the night.

Nee hasn’t picked up her paintbrushes in months, a part of her is broken. She knows Luke might never forgive her, leaving him was the biggest mistake of her life – but could coming home for Christmas be the best decision she’s ever made?

Maybe all she needs is a little Christmas miracle…

Amazon Affiliate Link: Kindle 

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

Christmas at Butterfly Cove is the third in the Butterfly Cove series by Sarah Bennett. Each book so far has followed a different sister and now it is the turn of Nee to share her story. Rather than each book being a rehash of the one before with the story just being told from a different characters viewpoint, each book has brought the reader a fresh perspective and continued the story on rather than going back on old ground. Although the first book, Sunrise at Butterfly Cove following Mia, still remains my favourite this new Christmas book would come a close second.

If the cover alone wasn't inviting enough than definitely Butterfly Cove, the guest house and the newly established artists studios and teashop would make you want to visit. Sarah Bennett has done such a wonderful job of creating a setting and characters that you fervently wished were real. I can picture each area quite clearly in my head and just like for each of the sisters Butterfly Cove becomes a refuge and sanctuary away from their worldly problems. To be honest, that's  exactly what I have felt this series for the most part has done for me. It has provided me with some quiet time away from the hustle and bustle of modern day life and given me the opportunity to switch off and relax and enjoy a very well written story.

Our attention with book three turns to Nee Thorpe. The term struggling artist couldn't be more apt for her except for the fact it's not the money for her art she is struggling to earn, rather she can't produce any pieces at all at the moment. Her love of art and her creative flair has very much deserted her. She is hoping that her stay with her sisters and the most wonderful time of year will help get things flowing again. The reasons behind this loss of something she has loved for so long are not directly revealed to the reader straight away, more so we are drip fed little clues here and there as to what is the cause of this deep unhappiness facing Nee.

From the outset it was evident that Nee was in a very bad place, both professionally and personally, and when the reasons become crystal clear no one could blame her for feeling this way. One wonders will Butterfly Cove work its magic on Nee just as it did on her sister Mia and Kiki? Butterfly House is a place to heal, to take stock of everything and think how can I solve my problems? Is there a way to overcome what appears to be an insurmountable mountain? If it worked for Mia and Kiki surely Nee will find it just as easy? The only problem is one of the factors in her unhappiness is right at her doorstep. Her husband Luke is right where she never expected him to be. Right there at Butterfly House as he is the brother of Aaron Spenser, who is currently dating Kiki, and best friend of Daniel who is married to Mia.

Nee left her marriage to Luke without a word or backward glance so to say things are awkward between the couple would be an understatement. I really thought Nee was very selfish just to abandon ship and leave Luke floundering without telling him why she was leaving their marriage. Surely you don't just walk out without explaining or even discussing it to see can anything be salvaged? I really thought this would want to be a very good reason just to sacrifice a marriage so easily as it was evident for most of the book that these two really needed to be together. Their love for each other was there for the reader to see but I suppose faced with a situation as Nee was, one has to leave and sort out their own heart and mind before they can face their partner and confront their fears, worries and problems.

Nee very much kept her sisters at arms length and wouldn't talk about anything. I could see both Kiki and Mia wanted to offer help and solace to Nee but she wasn't having any of it. At times I felt she was a bit woe is me and before the truth was revealed I thought hold up a minute you created the situation you are in by leaving the kind, supportive man that was Luke and now people want help and you just keep shutting them out. Nee returned from New York a complete and utter mess, she is full of melancholy and sadness. But as being with her family and with so many new friends around maybe now she will begin to realise her mistake in making such a rash and abrupt decision she questions is it too late? Can Luke forgive her? Can they find their way back to happiness and contentment?

I loved Luke as a character. I felt he was full of strength and courage and he knew his own mind. He had a deep love for Nee and was clearly hurt by her actions. If it had been long term problems and endless fights I felt he would have come to terms with things and accepted that Nee was gone for good. But that wasn't the case and his spirit and love for Nee was to be admired. Initially I think he was too sacred too probe too deep and find out what was causing Nee so much anguish that she felt the need to up sticks and run but love will always win out and I am glad he persisted and kept going and never gave up on the woman whom he held so dear to his heart. I thought it was fantastic he gave Nee the space she needed but yet if at any point she reached out to him in any way shape or form no matter how small he would come running and be there for her. In any other relationship I would have said she had him wrapped around her finger but here this response to a call for help was genuine and filled with passion, care and the need to see a person come through a tough time and emerge stronger through the other side.

I enjoyed how the overall story developed and the fact we also got to keep an eye on what Mia and Daniel and Kiki and Aaron were up to. Seeing their relationships further develop was a joy to read. The scenes in the last part of the book featuring Christmas and a few surprises were truly magical and I could picture it all so clearly in my head. The latter half of the book really show cased how important the bonds of family really are and that Mia and her surrounding family members and friends are so close knit and that they will always look out for each other. I hoped everyone involved would have a positive, fairytale happy ending.

The common thread running through all three books is without doubt one overcoming every obstacle placed in your way to accept and embrace love. Family, friendship and happiness. Now having read all three books I feel these elements have definitely come full circle and what started with Mia's story has been satisfyingly concluded with Nee's. Butterfly Cove is a place which helps people to grow and change. They come seeking refuge and solace and often they don't know how they will find those things but the characters are allowed to be free and develop for themselves with a little help from neighbours and new found friends.

The series as a whole was excellent and it was brilliant that the reader could enjoy all three parts stretched over the course of a year rather than waiting a year at a time for each instalment. Sarah Bennett has done a fantastic job with crafting the most suitable story for each sister when at the time of reading you feel so close to each one as we navigate our way through the hardships they are dealing with. I'm sad to say goodbye to these characters and Butterfly Cove but I feel their story has now been told and it finished in the most perfect way. Now my attention will certainly turn to an entirely new setting and cast of characters in February  2018 when Spring at Lavendar Bay is published. If it's anything as good as the Butterfly Cove series I know I am in for a real treat as Sarah Bennett as been a delightful new author to discover this year.

All book titles in bold are Amazon UK Affiliate links which will earn me a few pence if anyone clicks through and makes a purchase - any money earned will go towards buying books or gifts for giveaways.

1 comment:

  1. What a gorgeous review. I'm so pleased the setting and characters resonated with you. I loved creating Butterfly Cove and it was a wonderful place to escape to - I'm glad you feel the same way x