Thursday, 5 July 2018

Emma's Review: The Bakery at Seashell Cove by Karen Clarke

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Meg Larson thought she had everything she wanted: she works in the local bakery, she’s months away from marrying her high-school sweetheart, and home is beautiful, sunny Seashell Cove, where the sky is blue, the sea is turquoise and the sand is golden.

Except that the bakery is up for sale and her fiancé Sam’s more interested in bikes than their relationship. When Meg receives shocking news about her family, he’s on a cycling tour and ignoring her calls – and posting selfies on Facebook with a female cyclist he looks far too cosy with...

Luckily the bakery’s estate agent, Nathan, is understanding and funny, and as the summer goes on an unexpected friendship blossoms. When the bakery is given a second lease of life under a mysterious new owner, Meg realises a change might be exactly what she needs too.

Will Meg find the happy-ever-after she dreams of in Seashell Cove?

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Many thanks to Bookouture via NetGalley for my copy of The Bakery at Seashell Cove to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.

I adored my first visit to Seashell Cove so I was delighted when we weren't kept waiting too long for part two in a planned trilogy. The Bakery at Seashell Cove sees author Karen Clarke now turn her attention attention to Meg Larson, Meg bakes the cakes for the café and also works at the local bakery. The only problem Meg now faces is that the owner of the bakery has died and even up until that point the bakery has not been as successful as it once had been despite the best efforts of Meg. Meg's passion is baking and cakes and she loves creating new delectable flavours, combinations and treats for people to try. Devising recipes, mixing, measuring, rolling and kneading all  provide her with some quite time to mull things over in her life.

Meg loves how with that first bite of a cake or a pastry that she has baked the recipient will have such a look on their face that will instantly make their day better. Meg feels such an emotional connection with everything she does with regard to baking and she is loathe to lose this feeling. She feels inspired and energised and it keeps her focused but now the bakery is falling into disrepair and the customers no longer come. As the bakery is put up for sale, she longs to be able to buy it to expand her dreams even further to potentially change the fortunes of the bakery but her funds are lacking. How can she cope with something that so holds so dear to her heart being lost forever?

I loved Meg as a character, I felt she was passionate about what she wanted in life but lacking the necessary funds in order to buy the bakery herself meant that she became a little lost at times. She could feel her long term goals slipping from her grasp and didn't fully know how to go about clawing them back. Meg has been dating Sam for as long as she can remember but still she feels his proposal caught her by surprise. The wedding seems to be rushing towards her at a startling pace and she's not sure she is quite ready for the onslaught that it will bring. So the issue of the bakery sale, her wedding and also Sam's cycling challenge away from home are all problems playing on her mind. Clearly Meg, in my mind, had to sit down and get her priorities right. In what order that would be only she could decide. She had to listen to her heart and decide which came first. I felt she couldn't control Sam being away, the elements of jealousy creeping in on her part, thinking would he meet someone on his journey, well really she could do nothing about that. If baking was her passion then saving the bakery should have been her mission and I was delighted to see she wasn’t going to give it up without a fight.

Nathan Walsh, the hunky man tasked with the sale of the bakery, does cause a flutter of excitement with his arrival and I loved the scenes that featured him. In fact I wanted him to have an even more prominent role than he already did. He seemed caring and compassionate although he didn't want to give too much of that side to him away. As an opportunity presents itself for a TV baking slot, Meg grabs it with both arms. It will help showcase her talents and hopefully bigger things can arise from something small. Through one thing and another a buyer steps forward for the bakery but it is not what or who Meg would have hoped for. I thought she was admirable that she pushed her own feelings and long term aims for the bakery aside especially when she makes the connection with who the buyer is and how they want to change everything.

I thought the author developed the overall story well and I was glad to see other plots introduced. Yes Meg was fighting for the bakery but if this had been the sole focus of the book it would have become repetitive and boring. Weaving other elements of Meg's life into the book kept the story fresh and kept the reader guessing as to the eventual outcome. Meg's mother storyline was brilliant, I thought I knew what she was up but really when the reveal came it was surprising but it was truly lovely too. She was being elusive and secretive and given her personal history Meg was right to worry. On the other hand it did provide some laughs as Meg begins to wonder just what is she up to?

In this sense I really did think Meg was juggling so much in her life that at some stage something had to give, her mother, the bakery and Sam all were time bombs waiting to go off. It remained to be seen which would explode first and how would Meg deal with the fall out. As Nathan was there on the sidelines and with Sam being away and different emotions coming to the surface I hoped Meg would start to realise that change was afoot and she would have to start to make some life altering decisions in order to find true romance and happiness.

The Bakery at Seashell Cove was an enjoyable and delightful read. If that gorgeous cover doesn't draw you in I don't know what will. I thought the covers for Karen Clarke's Beachside series were lovely but my god have the Seashell Cove covers upped everything a gear and will be so attractive on bookshelves. Cassie who was the focus of book one does make very brief appearances in this story as does Tilly who I presume will be the focus of the final book. I understand this was Meg's story and her chance to shine but I would have liked to have seen a bit more of her two friends just to really establish the sold friendship between the trio.

For me The Cafe at Seashell Cove, only by a slight margin, edged out Meg's story for me. I was totally invested in Cassie and her story but here as much as I did enjoy reading about Meg and her trials and tribulations there was just a little something very slightly lacking for me that made me connect with Meg as much as I had with Cassie. That said The Bakery at Seashell Cove was an entertaining read with a fantastic setting, interesting characters and of course it had the requisite dash of romance that everyone looks for in this genre. I am more than interested to see how the series will be wrapped up when hopefully we will be able to read Tilly's story before the end of the year.

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