When the owner of Brides by the Sea, Cornwall’s cutest little wedding shop, offers Lily a job as their new wedding stylist, her first thought is – can she possibly pull it off?
Before she’s even sourced a fairy light or tasted a cupcake, Kip Penryn hires her services – but he’s opened an exclusive wedding venue in direct competition to her friend Poppy!
Lily feels like a traitor working for Kip, only everyone knows Penryn men are gorgeous but unreliable. All she has to do is sit back and watch him mess it up…doesn’t she? (Goodreads)
Summer at the Little Wedding Shop introduces us to Lily, a flower expert who has spent the last few years working for a high end boutique hotel and organising the daily flower arrangements for each room. However, with the hotel having been taken over and her job dissolved, her live-in accommodation goes with it, leaving her making a return to her hometown and taking refuge in the attic room at Brides By the Sea. She is taking the temporary position of wedding designer until something better comes along, wanting to be far away from the place where her marriage crumbled.
Lily is in for another shock on her return, as her mother gets engaged to a younger man and decides on a summer wedding, leaving them only a few months to arrange it. On top of all that, she runs into a face from the past in the form of Kip Penryn, who has taken over the Manor and plans to set up as a wedding venue in direct competition to Daisy Hill Farm from the previous books. He is cocky and arrogant and the last thing Lily wants is to work with him, but she must take one for the team if they are to find out what his plans are behind the scenes.
Lily has also managed to catch the eye of farmer and property developer, Fred, who is keen to take her out on a date and adamant that he will win her over. She is just as stubborn in stating that she isn’t looking for a man, and just wants to help out Brides By the Sea until it is time for her to move on. With weddings to plan, venues to save and men to keep in check, it certainly looks like Lily is in for a busy summer.
I really enjoyed returning to the quaint seaside setting of this series and the familiar faces we’ve grown to know in the first two books. Admittedly you don’t need to read those books for this one to make sense, but it will enhance the story and you’ll understand more of the amusing quips. That being said, I loved the fact that Lily was a new addition and that we aren’t just limited to the existing cast, as she has a fantastic, feisty personality all her own. There are just enough personal dramas thrown in to make her story credible and not over the top, with it being easy to empathise with her from the beginning.
As a character Lily has had her fair share of recent hardship, with the death of her father, loss of her job, a divorce, and now her mother marrying a younger man. All she wants is a new start, with Jess’s helping hand at the shop railroading her into becoming a wedding designer, a role she actually has no experience in. As a result she is forced to bluff and style it out with potential clients, finding herself stuck with bridezilla Nicole, who wants diamonds on everything and changes her plans every five minutes. It also becomes clear that Lily has a history with the Penryns, and often judges Kip without meaning to, slowly learning to give him the credit he deserves.
The relationship between Kip and Lily is hilarious, as they have so much banter between them it’s hard to know who comes out on top. He is easygoing and keen to have fun, which Lily interprets as sitting around and letting everyone else do the work for him. However, he still pays for her design services at the manor when he knows she has no prior experience, and encourages her when she doubts herself. They make a good team and he gives her the credit she deserves, always appreciating her hard work even when she insults him, and slowly letting her in without necessarily realising it.
He was a stark contrast to farmer Fred, who seemed determined to make Lily his from the beginning and certain that she would fall for it. It doesn’t help that Lily’s mum is also in his corner and keen for Lily to have a man by her side, even though she’s perfectly happy on her own. As expected, there is a slight love triangle going on throughout this book, but it’s handled well by the author and I found that I really enjoyed the plot and the characterisation. There is something very real about them all and I liked being a part of their growth, watching each one develop and trying to guess what would happen next. You can easily form a conclusion in your mind at the beginning that is slowly proved wrong, making this trip to the little wedding shop just as enjoyable as the last. I’m certainly looking forward to what happens next by the sea and recommend this series as great summer reads.
An easy read to get you through a summer holiday, this third book works well as a standalone title and introduces an array of new characters that you will relate to from the very beginning. The plot is humorous and entertaining, and will leave you keen to read the next book in anticipation of the next round of wedding-themed fun.