It’s such a pleasure today to be helping launch the blog tour for Shooting Stars Over Bluebell Cliff by Della Galton, and to share my publication day review: published by Boldwood Books, it’s now available for Kindle (free via Kindle Unlimited), in paperback and as an audiobook. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the tour invitation and support, and to the publishers for my advance reading e-copy (provided via netgalley).
Because of my humungous reading list, I often can’t manage to read and review every single book from my favourite authors – but, although I’ve only discovered her writing fairly recently, I just can’t resist a new book from Della Galton. I thoroughly enjoyed Sunshine Over Bluebell Cliff, and just couldn’t wait for the next book (you’ll find my review here). And blow me, the second book – Moonlight Over Studland Bay – was equally wonderful (you’ll find my review of that one here), entertaining and heartwarming, and another book that just got everything right. This isn’t a series you need to follow – they do share the Dorset Jurassic Coast location (now added to my “must visit” list!), but although there are some recurring characters each book is entirely standalone. I was looking forward immensely to reading a third…
There’s someone out there for everyone… you just need to know where to look…
Unlucky in love Poppy Allen is the producer of a brand-new TV show, ‘Date for a Day’ – think ‘Take Me Out’ meets ‘It’s a Knockout’! Lovelorn contestants must perform a series of seaside challenges to win the hand of the starring lady and a ‘Date for a Day’.
Left heartbroken when Stephen, her childhood sweetheart eloped with her best friend on her hen night – Poppy has no plans to risk her own heart again. Besides, she’s far too busy filming contestants against the backdrop of the beautiful Bluebell Cliff Hotel and the stunning Jurassic Dorset coastline.
However, when sabotage on set threatens to stop shooting, Poppy discovers soulmates can be found in the most unexpected places…
This book really was an absolute delight in every way. By pure chance, I do seem to have read a few books recently focused around the putting together of a reality show – but this one approaches it from a rather different angle, with such a really interesting insider view from the perspective of the team putting the production together.
This is very much Poppy’s story, and I really liked her – and her loyal and supportive friend and cameraman Dave – from the outset, as we encounter them researching locations for the activities that will be part of the pilot for Date for a Day. She’s passionate about her work, and her dedication is clear – but work is also something of a refuge as, despite the support of her lovely family and her equally dedicated team, her personal life is rather more in turmoil after her former partner treated her so very badly.
She unexpectedly finds her heart beating a little faster when she encounters one of the show’s contestants – but her professionalism doesn’t waver, as the team strive to overcome the many ups and downs in filming the pilot, some accidental, some the result of a long running feud between two of the characters working at the Bluebell Cliff Hotel. And while her attention is all on the day job, she fails to notice the friend who’s always there to bail her out – and I have to say that a friends-to-lovers story, where you’re sometimes a few steps ahead of the characters themselves, is always something I particularly enjoy.
There was so much I loved about this book, not least the focus on family, and every single one of them was so well drawn. They all – the parents, two brothers, step sister Alice, their various partners at the time – come together for monthly curry nights, and they all have particularly interesting back stories that don’t distract at all from the main story but add real depth and interest. I especially liked Poppy’s mother’s storyline, as she struggles to come to terms with her recent retirement, with the reading she’s always enjoyed no longer filling the void – the running theme of incomprehensible text messages adds humour, but then so does the whole family’s lack of interest in the father’s ongoing big project. There’s such an immense warmth to all the relationships, and an authenticity to all their interactions that I particularly liked.
The humour throughout the book is perfectly judged – sometimes gentle, at times verging on the slapstick, with quite a few scenes that really made me laugh out loud. But the author also has an excellent and unerring touch with the emotional content – the central romance is particularly convincing, everything I wanted it to be, and I really felt for Poppy as the ins and outs of her back story were slowly revealed. The whole context of the making of the TV programme was particularly well done, with some really well-researched insights into the challenges and practicalities. And although this book is a standalone in every way, I did thoroughly enjoy encountering again some of the characters I’d loved from the previous books – especially the increasingly eccentric and overbearing chef Mr B – but you’ll have no problems at all if this is the first book you’ve read from the author. And yes, there are even some lovely scenes featuring three-legged dog Foxy – should you ever visit the hotel, just make sure you keep a firm hold on your bacon sandwich.
And I really must praise the book’s setting and wonderful sense of place – vividly described and playing a major part in the story, so much so that I’ve spent a few evenings researching places to stay when I pay my visit. The Bluebell Cliff Hotel is entirely of the author’s own invention, but now so familiar thanks to the detailed descriptions – and that’s combined with the stunning real life locations used as a backdrop (but so much more than that…) to some of the set pieces, like Durdle Door, Studland Beach and the Old Harry Rocks.
This book really did have everything I love – strong and well-drawn characters, plenty of humour and lightness, moments of drama and emotion, vividly drawn locations, that lovely focus on family and friendship, and a perfect slow-burn romance that really warmed the heart. Della Galton really is a quite superb storyteller, and I think this lovely book may just be her best yet – I know I’m looking forward to the next one already…
About the author
Della Galton is the author of 15 books, including Ice and a Slice. She writes short stories, teaches writing groups and is Agony Aunt for Writers Forum Magazine. She lives in Dorset. Della’s new fiction series launched with Sunshine Over Bluebell Cliff in May 2020.
Find out more about Della Galton, her books, speaking engagements & workshops, on her website: you’ll also find her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Bookbub, and you can sign up for her newsletter here.