Saturday, 19 June 2021

Emma's Review: The Hotel at Honeymoon Station by Tilly Tennant

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

When Emma’s useless fiancé tells her a lie she cannot forgive, she decides enough is enough. She leaves him, quits her dead-end job and travels hundreds of miles away to the ancient village of Honeymoon in the Dorset countryside, to help her friend Tia turn the old train station into a boutique hotel.

Tia has told Emma that it will be a project, but when Emma arrives in Honeymoon and sees a weed-choked crumbling ruin, her vision of an idyllic life in Dorset begins to disintegrate. But when she meets twinkly-eyed builder Aiden in the village shop, and sparks fly between them, she can’t help but feel that the stars have for once aligned.

As work begins on the hotel, Emma and Aiden grow closer, and on sun-dappled evening walks, he tells her the secrets of the village. But there are some villagers who wish that Emma had never arrived in Honeymoon… And when Emma is involved in a terrible accident on site, and then discovers what Aiden has been keeping from her, it feels like the universe is telling her to leave Honeymoon for good. What if she was wrong to say goodbye to all that was safe and familiar? Will she ever be able to find her happy-ever-after in Honeymoon?

Book Links: Kindle or Paperback

Many thanks to Bookouture via NetGalley for my copy of The Hotel at Honeymoon Station to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.

How lucky we are to have another new book from Tilly Tennant just a few short months after she published The Little Orchard on the Lane. This new story, The Hotel at Honeymoon Station, has a gorgeous, bright inviting cover and the title seemed so inviting. We first meet Emma as she is getting ready for a party to celebrate her younger sister Elsie leaving for a year to work as an intern in Iceland. This new and exciting opportunity afforded to Elsie makes Emma realise the own shortcomings in her life. That her life has become static in its existence and she fails a failure with a distinct lack of ambition or achievement. She hates her job and her personal life is not much better as her boyfriend Dougie whom she is supposed to be marrying treats her like a doormat. He takes her for granted and is lazy, forever letting her down when she needs him the most. Basically she is being used and that boiling point where she can’t put up with it anymore is about to be reached.

Emma was a young woman who was searching for what we all want in life. That is to feel safe, secure, valued and loved. She shouldn’t have to feel like she is forcing Dougie to love her and the final straw is when he fails to show up for the leaving party. Finally I thought, even though we have just been introduced to Emma, you could tell she had been bumbling along in this lacklustre one-sided relationship for far too long and at last she was going to do something about it. The grass is always greener on the other side but it’s taken a while for her to realise this. It’s a brave decision to step outside what you believe to be your comfort zone but for her own sanity and long term happiness Dougie needed to be pushed to the kerb. OK she hates admitting to herself and her close family and friends that her relationship is a failure and she has been maintaining a front of responsibility and an independence of sorts but the time is ripe for things to change and I hoped they would change for the better.

So where does Emma go from here now that Dougie has been given the heave ho? A change of scenery and a new direction is life is certainly needed for her. If Elsie can do it, so can she and her Aunt Patricia who became like a surrogate mother to her following the death of her own mother couldn’t agree more. A chance meeting with an old friend from school, Tia, sparks a little something deep within Emma. Tia is coming out of a relationship herself and wants to do something totally different with her life. I will say this all just seemed a bit too convenient that Tia reappeared in Emma’s life and had the most perfect solution or what seemed like it to give Emma this new, fresh and exciting opportunity to kickstart this new phase in her life. But pushing this niggle I had aside the idea of opening up a boutique hotel in the little village of Honeymoon seemed such a good idea. It would give Emma a chance to do something totally different with her life and working with Tia who had gone through more or less the same experience as herself could perhaps turn out to be the best decision she had ever made or would it?

As always with this author's books the descriptions of the village of Honeymoon were just beautiful and it was easy to visualise in your mind. It’s quiet and unassuming and a certain character really doesn’t want that to change as Emma and Tia soon find out. I have to say though I loved the inclusion of Darcie and Tariq, who had featured in Christmas at the Little Village Bakery, and are now running their own café and the mentions of Millie too just brought back memories of two books I really enjoyed reading. The station that Tia proposes to turn into a hotel needs an awful lot of work and it seems like an insurmountable obstacle to climb but the girls both have hope and optimism on their side. The descriptions of the bygone days of the station and the current state it finds itself in now were so vivid and as a reader you realise what a special place it is and you just hope that things will turn out OK and that the path Tia and Emma tread will be an easy one. But that’s not to be the case as there are numerous problems and setbacks and the story does develop over a period of several months which I thought did slow the overall pace and development of the book down a bit. I also continually felt like I had read a book previously with more or less the exact same plot. I just couldn’t shake the feeling and I think it detracted from my enjoyment and my investment in the book as a whole.

Brothers Blake and Aidan Ronson are the builders who step in to tackle the work on the station when a previous company lets the girls down. It was obvious some sort of romance was going to develop. Tia’s is more quick and on fire than Emma’s but who could blame her given her recent hurt that led her to Honeymoon in the first place. I found once work started on the station and in turn went on for so long the middle part of the book dragged somewhat. It was like nothing much happened except daily visits to the site where Emma did some work and yes Aidan does show her around Honeymoon and its surroundings and tells her some stories but it just felt a little lacklustre for me.

Life for Emma in Honeymoon felt too big and complicated as the path to restoring the station becomes troubled not to mention the feelings she develops for Aidan are called in to question when she believes something that may or not be true. She just wanted to down tools and quit and return home. I thought this was just going to be too much of a cop out for her considering she wanted a change in her life. I know loneliness can really wear people down but I thought she was being too rash and giving up at the first hurdle. She needed to feel safe and wanted but was this new chapter in her life just bringing her unhappiness and heartache when really what she craves is security, satisfaction, happiness and the ultimate goal of making the station a success as a hotel which would really boost her life and the village of Honeymoon as a whole. To be honest she needed a good talking to and I wanted to shake her and say stick with it. It could turn out OK.  

The Hotel at Honeymoon Station was a good read. It just didn’t fully engross me as the last few books by Tilly Tennant have done. It’s a quick read despite dragging in the middle. I felt it was over before it had properly found its proper, solid rhythm and it only picked up again towards the end. But for an afternoon relaxing in the garden when you want something not too taxing this would be the book for you.

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