Review of 'Honeybee Cottage' - K.T. Dady
Welcome to Pepper Bay. A small close-knit community where you’ll find chocolate box cottages, quaint shops, drama, friendship, and love.
Snuggle down with this cosy, feel-good, comfort read that whisks you away to a beautiful bay on the Isle of Wight – Perfect for fans of Christie Barlow, Phillipa Ashley, and Holly Martin.
The Pepper Bay books are standalone stories that intertwine with recurring characters.
Honeybee Cottage – The last time Joey Walker watched Josh Reynolds leave Pepper Bay was three years ago. She decided there and then that the next time he visited she would never in a million years, even if her life depended on it, sleep with him ever again. She was done with secretly being in love with him. She couldn’t keep falling into his arms every time he was around. Josh was never going to see her as anything more than a holiday fling, or a sure thing. She had made her decision and had happily stuck to it, but only because he wasn’t around. She soon realises just how hard keeping him at arm’s length actually is when he unexpectedly turns up just before Christmas.
Josh had always loved Joey, but he knew she never took him seriously. She had no reason to. Growing up, he only went to his grandmother’s family home in Pepper Bay for the summer. As an adult, he knew that the world viewed him as a playboy heir to his grandfather’s millions. This year, he was determined to prove just how reliable he could be. He was back, and on a secret mission to get Joey to fall in love with him, because she was all he had ever wanted.
Like Starlight Cottage before it, Honeybee Cottage, tackles some themes which are far darker than most books in this genre. The opening pages of the book reveal some of the issues Josh has been dealing with and they don't make pretty reading. However, the development of his relationship with Joey soon takes over and the tone is significantly lightened. However, it did give me pause for thought, particularly as the events of Christmas Eve unfold. Two things occurred to me.
The first is that it's all too easy to take people at face value and not look beyond that. It's obvious to everyone around them that Joey and Josh are in love with each other, but they have no idea of the other's feelings because of the front they present to each other. Nor does Joey have any idea that Josh's public image is far removed from the person he really is. The advent of social media is, I think, largely responsible for this issue in society. As I was reading this book, the two big news stories were Owen Paterson and corruption and Azeem Rafiq and the racism row with Yorkshire County Cricket Club. Owen Paterson had been talking about the way his wife's suicide was being belittled and Darren Gough had been talking about Rafiq's suicidal thoughts and I think those two conversations were in my mind as I read the opening chapters and I couldn't help drawing parallels between the book and real life events. It's very easy to dismiss Paterson as a corrupt politician and to take a simplistic view of the racism row as inappropriate banter, but sometimes as a society, we forget that the 'figures' at the heart of stories like these are real people with emotions they don't necessarily want to share with the public at large. In the same way, Joey loses sight of the Josh she knows because she's blinded by the 'figure' of Josh she's created in her own mind and read about in the gossip columns.
The second thought I had was about community. When catastrophe strikes, the residents of Pepper Bay pull together to help each other and make the best of their situation. I'd be interested to know when this section of the book was written, purely because the spirit of it reminded me very much of the first Lockdown when, particularly in my own small town, there was a definite feeling of everyone being in it together and the sense that we needed to look after the most vulnerable. It also made me think about last Christmas when most of us were kept away from our usual family celebrations. It wasn't the presents or the food we missed - we had all that on our own - what we found hard not to have was the company of the people we love and it was that which came across in the book. It's the people who make Pepper Bay the community that it is. When disaster strikes they all muck in and help and they celebrate for each other when the news is good. Ultimately, that's what makes them a community and more than that, it makes them family.
About the author: Author, reader, mum, chocolate lover, and a huge fan of a HEA. I was born and raised in the East End of London, and I’ve been happily writing stories since I was a little girl. When I’m not writing, I’m baking cakes or pottering around in my little garden in Essex, trying not to kill the flowers. I’m the author of contemporary romance, middle-grade, and the thought-provoking thriller about mental illness, The Focus Program.
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