*Thank you to Karen Clarke, Bookouture and Netgalley for my free copy of this book.*
Carrie Dashwood fled her hometown, Dorset, after her best friend Megan stole her first love, Tom Hudson. Ten years later, Carrie is back in the beautiful side town of Shipley, to help run Aunty Ruby’s flower stall, ‘Ruby’s Blooms’.
Knowing that the Tom Hudson she had loved all those years ago still lived in Shipley, Carrie was desperate to reconnect, however, after a shocking phone call involving flower arrangements for a wedding, she never thought that her reconnecting with Tom would be down to organising the flowers for his wedding to none other than, ex-best friend, Megan.
Carrie goes to all great lengths to avoid the happy couple, soon enough crawling under flower stalls and inventing imaginary boyfriends. How long can she keep it up before she needs to face her feelings and the boy who broke her heart all those years ago? All Carrie needs to do is play it cool, save the stall and return to Manchester – easy right? No.
This is book two in the ‘Beachside Bay’ series and I didn’t actually know that until I had finished it, meaning this book can easily be read as a standalone. I would recommend obviously reading them in the correct order, in case any characters pop up from this one and it get’s a little confusing, but I will let you know how that goes when I go back and read book one.
Anyway, despite the reading in the wrong order scenario (oopsies haha!), I was immediately drawn in to this book from the gorgeous cover. From the very start, this was every bit a perfect comedy-romance and although you’re sort of sure how the book will end, you can’t put it down anyway because you’ll soon fall head over heels in love with Carrie and have that desperate need to know that she really does get her happy ending.
The move to Shipley was organised by Carrie’s mother, after Carrie lost her job and had nothing else lined up. Her ill aunt Ruby had no intentions of going back to work at the flower stall, leaving Carrie with no idea of when she’d be able to head home, far away from Tom and Megan. Ruby was such a loveable character and when you get to know the true meaning behind her depression, you will love her even more than you already did because she deserves the entire world and lucky for her, Carrie is about to give her that. Ruby’s entire story arc was my most favourite, despite Carrie being the main story, because there was just so much depth and heart-ache in it – I wouldn’t rest until I knew Ruby got what she had been searching for, for so long and keeping such a secret to yourself for all these years – it really is devastating.
There was some other little reoccurring characters involved like Jane, aunt Ruby’s assistant, who was absolutely hilarious! She had me cringing and laughing all the time with her overly detailed sexcapade stories. Older people really do have no limits or filters when exposing their private lives to the world. She was a breath of fresh air that balanced out the two heart-breaking stories we had to read between Ruby and Carrie’s lives. If Karen didn’t provide us with such humour, I think I definitely would have broken down multiple times!
Despite the devastation, this book was filled with humour and had me smiling non-stop. I grew incredibly fond of all these wonderful characters, except Megan, who irritated me more than enough times throughout the book. You’d think after ten years she’d have grown up and put a filter over her mouth, but no, some people just never change. The fake boyfriend scenario was really hilarious and heart-warming to watch because, although Toby wasn’t ready for a new relationship and wanted to work things out with his wife, the friendship that blossomed between Carrie and Toby was really sweet and he had her back so many times. Everyone needs a Toby in their lives.
The ending was all types of sweet and expected, but nevertheless, I was so happy that after all of these years, Carrie got the ending she had only ever dreamed of. She may have hated the idea of coming back to Shipley at first, but after putting up such a fight and losing over and over again, she finally won.
‘The Beachside Flower Stall’ is available now on paperback and e-book.