It’s Christmas in Whitsborough Bay. With fairy lights connecting the shops and cafés on either side of the cobbles, Castle Street seems magical. And in such a magical place, surely Christmas wishes can come true.
Carly Travis, owner of Carly’s Cupcakes, has two Christmas wishes this year. Her first is for her younger sister, Bethany, to focus on the positives in her life, including her Christmas wedding, instead of writing herself off as a failure. Bethany’s attempts at cake-decorating aren’t going to win any awards, but she’s certainly great with customers. Carly’s second wish is for her best friend, Liam, to come home for Christmas.
When Liam calls to say he’s been granted leave from the army, Carly makes a third Christmas wish. It’s the one she’s made every year since she was a teenager and, if she’s really brave, could this be the year when it finally comes true?
With Liam coming home, the shop having its best year yet, and a wedding to look forward to, it’s shaping up to be the best Christmas ever for Carly. But for Bethany, things are starting to unravel …
The first thing to note about this book is that it is the sixth book in Jessica Redland’s Whitsborough Bay series. I haven’t read any of the previous books so I’m not entirely sure whether there is an overall story arc. We certainly find out that Carly’s sister in particular has had a pretty dramatic recent past (a main storyline is the impact of this on her life now), but I’m not sure whether this was part of one of the previous books or not. In any case, apart from a bit of catching up on Bethany’s past, the rest of the story feels pretty self-contained, so I don’t think it mattered too much that I was reading it as a stand alone.
The story itself was pretty cute, and once I got past the bits where Bethany’s situation is established (which felt a little bit awkward at times) I really got into this and enjoyed it enough that I’m really keen to check out the other Christmassy books in the series.
The sense of community between the residents of Whitsborough Bay, in particular the store owners of Castle Street, was quite lovely, and one of my favourite scenes was when they got together. Bethany’s wedding is a side story that features enough to be important but not so much that it overtakes the ‘lead up to Christmas’ feel. It is definitely a story about Christmas time rather than Christmas day, but this worked for me – I found it really festive and quite lovely (lots of lovely snow!)
The romance aspect was also quite sweet. I don’t want to say too much because spoilers, but I liked that it was sort of ‘friends to lovers’-ish, and I liked the way it played out.
I thought this was pretty solid, sweet, festive read, and in the end it was totally worth forgiving a few bumps at the start for.
Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes by Jessica Redland
Out now from Boldwood Books.
Source: Review e-copy provided to me by Boldwood Books (thank you!) via NetGalley. All views are my own.
Category: Cosy Christmas romance, shop owner, friends to lovers.