It’s a pleasure today to be helping launch the blog tour for Sunrise Over Pebble Bay 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).
I think you’ll know by now that I can never resist a new book from Della Galton. I thoroughly enjoyed her first book for Boldwood, Sunshine Over Bluebell Cliff (you’ll find my review here) – and her second, Moonlight Over Studland Bay, was equally wonderful (you’ll find my review of that one here). And then came Shooting Stars Over Bluebell Cliff, perhaps my favourite of them all – you’ll find my review of that one here. So, as you can imagine, I was really looking forward to this one – and my expectations were particularly high…
Talented, yet relatively unknown actress and celebration cake baker extraordinaire Olivia Lambert is running out of time.
Approaching forty, she’s yet to land the role that will launch her television career and she’s desperate to be a mum.
Her new man, Phil Grimshaw from the Bluebell Cliff Hotel, seems the perfect match, but seems to be in no rush to settle down.
Having ditched her childhood sweetheart and fiancé, Tom Boyd, when he backtracked about being a dad, Olivia dreads making the same mistake again.
Rocked by confessions from both her sister Ruby and Tom, Olivia knows it’s time to make some life changing decisions.
Then a terrifying incident off Chesil Beach changes the course of her future and brings Olivia to question everything she values and loves.
My goodness, Olivia has a busy life – as well as making a real success of her cake-making business (with the odd disaster and all-nighter along the way), she’s a whisker away from her big acting break with the chance of finally securing a role on Casualty. She has a lovely relationship with her Aunt Dawn (I liked her as much as I did Olivia herself) who runs her vintage clothes shop nearby – with its wonderful secret garden and feathered friends – who’s always there to step in when everything gets too much, and to give both practical and emotional support. But as if all that’s not enough, Olivia desperately wants to be a mother – and, approaching forty, time is running out. She rather wasted the last ten years on Tom – she really thought he shared her desire for a family, but when push came to shove, he just wasn’t there for her.
But now she has a new relationship – with Phil, the maitre d’ at the Bluebell Cliff Hotel. Things are going well – they’re both busy people so only get together when they can, and neither of them have used the word “love” yet – but he’s a lovely guy (as you’ll already know if you’ve read the earlier books), and also understands her acting dreams as he’s still working towards his own big break. And Olivia’s particularly supportive herself too – her sister’s problems and the decision she needs to make have made them rather closer, with a particular edge of poignancy.
This book has all the warmth, escapism and feel-good I’ve come to expect from the author’s books – the characters are beautifully drawn, there’s that excellent sense of place (Dorset’s firmly on my list for a visit next year, entirely because of the author’s wonderful settings), and there’s the usual perfect balance between the lightness and humour and a few more serious issues. I will admit though that I did struggle a little with Olivia’s overpowering need to be a mother, and the way it took over her life – although I know it’s not really necessary to identify with a book’s characters to enjoy their journey, the fact that I never felt that ticking clock did put some of the book’s more emotional content outside the range of my experience, although it’s all extremely well and sensitively handled.
This book had a slightly more serious edge than the three previous books – an element of threat and emotional uncertainty, the angst about Olivia’s hopes and dreams, and there is one particularly unexpected tense and dramatic scene (exceptionally well-written) that really had me on the edge of my seat. But there’s also a great deal of fun – there are lots of small dramas around the cake-making (and the whole book is infused with the sweetness of vanilla and sugar and that smell of spiced fruit – and who knew those hen night cupcakes were a thing!), a few moments that really warm the heart involving her aunt and some of her favourite customers, and quite a few glimpses of the long-running feud between Phil and chef Mr B and the jokes they play on each other. The romantic elements are strong too – at first I didn’t quite feel the chemistry between Phil and Olivia, but it grew and developed really nicely as they struggled through their issues and challenges. And there’s a strong focus in this book on family and parenthood and what it means – there are some particularly well drawn supporting characters, and it’s all quite beautifully done.
This book might not quite be my new favourite – that emphasis on Olivia’s need to become a mother did take it outside my comfort zone a little, but I know that’s just me and that others might entirely love it. But the author really is a quite wonderful storyteller, and there was so much I enjoyed about this book every bit as much as I always do. I’m already looking forward to my next visit to beautiful Dorset – and Della Galton is still very firmly ensconced on my list of favourite authors.
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 launched her new fiction series set around The Bluebell Cliff Hotel with Boldwood in April 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.