Sadie is a single mum, nursing a broken heart. Her best friend from childhood, Cat, is burned out from working long hours as a chef in Paris. In need of a change, they decide to invest in their dream – running their own handmade biscuit shop in gorgeous Castle Court, a three-storey food court tucked away behind Chester’s bustling streets.
They soon discover that Castle Court has its own community – a little haven of delight against the stresses of the outside world. But not everyone welcomes the new business; the patisserie owner is less than pleased by what she sees as direct competition and Greg, who runs the fancy bistro that dominates one end of the courtyard, doesn’t think Sadie and Cat have the talent or business acumen to succeed. Luckily, there’s support in the form of the delectable Jaren, who owns the Dutch waffle house opposite Smart Cookies, and Swiss chocolate-shop owner, Elin. And if all else fails, the friends can drown their sorrows in Seb‘s cocktail bar on the third floor!
One of the greatest inventions of recent times for someone like me has been the advent of Netflix and other TV-on-demand streaming services, because I am impatient and I want to binge-watch any TV show I am really loving and not have to wait a whole week for the next episode.
I am the same with books. If I am really enjoying a story, I will stay up late reading and reading until I’ve finished it. For this reason, the recent phenomena of books that are released in separate parts every couple of months is torture for me, because I always want to know what happens next now, not in six weeks time. I’ve tried it, I really have, but it is just not a style of reading that is for me.
For this reason, I made myself wait until the latest book by Holly Hepburn, whose first three books have all been published in ebook format as four separate parts before being released as a full paperback, was out as a full version on which I could binge in one go. The wait was torture, because I love Holly’s books, but was it worth it? It really was because A Year at Castle Court is a book that is as sweet and delicious as the biscuits baked by its central characters.
This is the story of two friends, Cat and Sadie, who realise their childhood dream of opening a biscuit shop together in the secluded shopping enclave of Castle Court. As you would expect, the venture does not run completely smoothly and, as well as commercial challenges, Sadie and Cat were also wrestling with personal difficulties that impact everything, and romantic complications also add to the complexity of the story as it unfolds over the course of a year.
The characters of Cat and Sadie are extremely relatable and the dilemmas they face easily recognisable to modern women, so it is easy to immerse yourself and be carried along by the story. The combination of personal and professional problems gives a nice balance to the novel and Holly’s writing flows beautifully, so the reader finds themselves turning the pages without realising time is passing, which is how books of this type should be for the reader – effortless. The author has devised a cosy and appealing setting for the book in the shopping enclave of Castle Court and, as always, does a great job of bringing it to life and peopling it with interesting characters. The whole story is warm and satisfying; honestly, there is nothing not to love in this book.
If you are looking for a charming, easy but satisfying read to snuggle up with on a drab, winter’s day, you can’t go wrong with this book. Holly is returning to The Star and Sixpence for her next book, which I am really excited about so, in the words of Queen, hurry up and write it, Holly, because ‘I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now!;
A Year at Castle Court is available now and you can buy it here.
About the Author
Holly Hepburn has wanted to write books for as long she can remember but she was too scared to try. One day she decided to be brave and dipped a toe into the bubble bath of romantic fiction with her first novella, Cupidity, and she’s never looked back. She often tries to be funny to be funny, except for when faced with traffic wardens and border control staff. Her favourite things are making people smile and Aidan Turner.
She’s tried many jobs over the years, from barmaid to market researcher and she even had a brief flirtation with modelling. These days she is mostly found writing.
She lives near London with her grey tabby cat, Portia. They both have an unhealthy obsession with Marmite.
Connect with Holly:
Facebook: Holly Hepburn Author