It’s a real delight today to share my review of Summer Nights in Lantern Square by Helen Rolfe, the first in a new four-part serial, published for kindle by Orion on 6th August. You might well remember that I was totally enchanted by Helen’s last four-parter – you can now buy it as a complete story, The Little Café at the End of the Pier, in paperback, as an ebook and on audio, and I recommend it very highly.
Until I discovered the café, I’ve never really been a great fan of stories told in parts, sometimes finding them a tad frustrating when threads are left dangling. But Helen now has it off to a fine art, with enough content to each story, but with a romantic thread running through that has you really looking forward to discovering the outcome. So… it looks like we’ll be spending some time in the Cotswolds…
Since moving to the charming Cotswold village of Butterbury, Hannah has found her true home in the heart of the little community. Previously a high flyer in the city, she now runs her small business, Tied Up With String, from her cottage in Lantern Square.
Her handmade gifts and care packages are the perfect way to show someone you care, and while her brown paper packages bring a smile to customers across the miles, Hannah also makes sure to deliver a special something to the people closer to home…
But as Butterbury glows with the sunshine and sparkling lights of the Summer Fair, Hannah finds herself facing old memories, familiar faces, and perhaps even a new romance…
Call it “cosy” if you really want to – or you might like to try “gentle” or “heartwarming” – but there’s something about Helen Rolfe’s lovely writing that I unfailingly enjoy. First of all, she vividly creates the community in which her story is set, and I immediately felt at home in Lantern Square. And then there are her wonderful characters: as Hannah’s father finishes unloading her worldly goods from the van to her new home, they’re slowly introduced – the friendly gardener, the curmudgeonly neighbour, the arrogant local doctor. And as Hannah settles in, and gets her care package business organised – what a lovely idea! – we meet more, the local business owners, the friends she’s made, the people at the old folks’ home where she becomes a regular visitor.
And then there’s the wonderful summer fair, the focus for this first story, where everyone pulls together to make it a day to remember – and we meet more individuals she’s come to know, and get to know others rather better as the night’s dancing begins. And we find out too what drew her to Butterbury – those little echoes of the past, that add an extra frisson to the story.
This is such clever writing, and quite beautifully done – and there’s plenty of narrative drive to take you forward into the heart of the story, and so many interesting (and intriguing) undercurrents that make you wonder where the story will go. My goodness, I’m writing the next part in my head already, and I think that… but I’m sure the author will do it so much better! Thoroughly lovely, and a series I’m really looking forward to following.
The second part, Falling Leaves in Lantern Square, will be available on 8th October: Christmas in Lantern Square will follow on 5th November, with Snowfall in Lantern Square available on 3rd December. They’re all available for pre-order – and yes, I have, and will look forward to them immensely. If you’d prefer to wait for the whole book, the complete Lantern Square story will be published for kindle and in paperback on 25th June next year – and yes, that’s available for pre-order too.
About the author
Helen J Rolfe writes contemporary women’s fiction with an emphasis on relationships and love. She enjoys weaving stories about family, friendship, secrets, and characters who face challenges and fight to overcome them. Helen enjoys creating strong female lead characters and although her stories often deal with serious issues, they always have a happy ending.