It was a lovely surprise to receive this book from the publishers just before Christmas. It is made up of four stories previously published as e-book novellas and now brought together in paperback. As the title suggests, over a year it follows the ups and downs at Castle Court, a food court tucked away in the historic city of Chester. In particular, it focuses on friends Cat Garcia and Sadie Smart, the owners of designer biscuit shop Smart Cookies as they open their new business and get to know the other shop-owners in Castle Court.
Well, it was quite the year for Cat and Sadie with all kinds of challenges for them to face. As a single mum, Sadie experiences the worry and guilt which many working mums feel, as getting the new business off the ground takes up a lot of her time. She can usually rely on Lissy’s dad to help out and is considering giving their marriage a second chance but she is also rather attracted to gardener and beekeeper Adam. Cat has been head chef at a Michelin starred restaurant in Paris and there seems to be a bit of mystery as to why she has given up this work. Was it really just the pressure of work or was there more to it than she’s saying? With some hostile business owners, possible court cases, weather related disasters and friendships tested, there’s certainly never a dull moment at Castle Court!
I thoroughly enjoyed spending time at Castle Court and getting to know the the various businesses and their owners. If it was a real place and near me, I could see me spending a lot of my time there enjoying all the delicious food which was on offer. Holly Hepburn has a real knack of making everything sound so appetising.
There are plenty of romantic opportunities for our leading ladies. Cat is drawn to cocktail bar owner Seb but with his reputation as a ladies’ man, I was a bit worried that she had jumped into that relationship too quickly. Sadie, as I mentioned above, is considering getting back together with her husband but there’s just something about Adam that attracts her. There’s something about Adam that attracted me as a reader too! He seemed a really kind-hearted and considerate man. I couldn’t help laughing when he helped Sadie out at a hen party at the shop and was somewhat shocked by the raucous behaviour of the hens!
The four parts of the book each are complete in themselves but also, of course, work so well as a complete novel. A Year at Castle Court is a very enjoyable read, full of characters you will come to know and care about. You will be wishing Cat and Sadie success in both their business and their personal lives, as you worry about their challenges with them and cheer on their successes. It’s definitely a feel-good read.
My thanks to the publishers for my copy of the book. It is available now in paperback and ebook. You should be able to buy or order it from your usual book retailer or you can order a Kindle copy here: A Year at Castle Court
From the back of the book
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!
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.