‘Delightfully romantic and touching.’ Phillipa Ashley
A second chance by the sea?
When Kiki Jackson’s marriage falls to pieces, there’s only one place that she knows she can escape to – her sister’s little guesthouse in Butterfly Cove.
But she’s worried that turning up on bride-to-be Mia’s doorstep, especially with her two adorable children in tow, will spoil her sister’s imminent wedding plans!
Luckily, handsome neighbour Aaron Spenser offers to share his new cottage with Kiki until she’s back on her feet. And as the wedding draws closer, Kiki realises that Butterfly Cove may be offering her little family more than just a new home…
Maybe this is where her new life begins…?
An uplifting and heartwarming read, perfect for fans of Trisha Ashley, Rachael Lucas and Hilary Boyd.Praise for Sarah Bennett’s Butterfly Cove series:
‘A delightful and engaging read. An emotional journey I’ll never forget.’ Urban Book Reviews
‘A sweet, feel-good contemporary romance…definitely sigh-worthy!’ My Humble Opinion
‘I am already looking forward to my next trip to Butterfly Cove!’ Rachel’s Random Reads (top 1,000 Amazon reviewer)
‘Let Butterfly Cove work its magic! Sarah Bennett has stepped firmly into my auto-buy box.’ Claire Robinson (Top Ten GoodReads Reviewer)
About the Author
Sarah Bennett has been reading for as long as she can remember. Raised in a family of bookworms, her love affair with books of all genres has culminated in the ultimate Happy Ever After – getting to write her own stories to share with others. Born and raised in a military family, she is happily married to her own Officer (who is sometimes even A Gentleman). Home is wherever he lays his hat, and life has taught them both that the best family is the one you create from friends as well as relatives.
When not reading or writing, Sarah is a devotee of afternoon naps and sailing the high seas, but only on vessels large enough to accommodate a casino and a choice of restaurants.
You can connect with her via twitter @Sarahlou_writes or on Facebook www.facebook.com/SarahBennettAuthor
Read an Excerpt
Wedding Bells at Butterfly Cove
By Sarah Bennett
HarperCollins PublishersCopyright © 2017 Sarah Bennett
All rights reserved.
'Mummy.' The whispered voice next to her ear woke Kiki. She swam up through the layers of drowsiness, noting the darkness in the room, and wondered what time it was. 'Mummy.' A little shake of her shoulder added this time.
'Matty? Is everything all right, darling?' She matched his whisper, but it wasn't enough to avoid disturbing Neil.
He rolled over with a grumble. 'Whatever it is, take it somewhere else. I've got to be up in a couple of hours.'
Kiki slipped from beneath the quilt and used her toes to locate her slippers. After tucking her feet in the thin mules, she ushered her son towards the thin sliver of light shining from the landing. She pulled the bedroom door closed behind her, then crouched down to look at her beloved boy. Sweaty strands of dark-brown hair clung to his forehead and his cheeks shone with a feverish glow. He nibbled his bottom lip. 'I didn't mean to wake Daddy.'
The gleam of worry in his eyes stabbed her in the heart. Neil was perfectly capable of making everyone's life a misery at the slightest provocation. She forced a smile as she smoothed the damp hair from his brow. 'Don't worry about that, he'll be fast asleep again by now. Did you have a bad dream?'
Matty shook his head. 'I don't feel very —' He cut himself off with a hand over his mouth and his whole body convulsed in a shuddering heave, sending a stream of vomit through his splayed fingers and down the front of them both. Tears of shock and upset glinted in his eyes and she scooped him up in her arms, swallowing down the echoing hitch in her own stomach.
She carried him quickly into the bathroom and just managed to settle him on his knees in front of the toilet before another bout of bitter-smelling liquid spewed forth. 'Poor poppet. Poor darling,' she murmured, rubbing circles on his back as he shivered and shook. The front of her nightdress clung damply to her body, but she pushed the unpleasant sensation to the back of her mind to focus on Matty. He gasped like a little fish out of water, swallowing and panting. She knew the pattern well. This was just a brief respite in the process.
'Uh-oh,' he muttered and lurched forward again. This would be the last of it now. Kiki stroked his hair until he subsided into breathy sobs, sinking down until his head rested on the cold rim of the toilet.
'Better out than in, that's what they say.' She rose from her cramped position by his side to rinse her hands under the tap. Grabbing a dark-green flannel from the edge of the sink, she soaked it in cold water then bent down to turn Matty towards her. 'Look up, darling.'
He lifted his pale little face and she held his chin in a light grip as she wiped the tears, sweat and other less pleasant things from his skin. A quick rinse of the cloth and she folded it into a square. 'Hold this against your head a minute, can you?' He nodded weakly and clutched the flannel with a shaky hand.
Confident he would be okay for a couple of minutes, she left him to go and check his bedroom and fetch some clean pyjamas. His bedding and carpet were mercifully clean and she sent up a silent prayer of thanks that at least she wasn't faced with changing the sheets at ... she glanced at the LEGO Batman clock on the dressing table and winced. Three a.m. Pausing at the airing cupboard on the landing, she dug out a T-shirt and a pair of leggings for herself and returned to the bathroom. A quick change and a teeth-clean and they were both soon tucked into Matty's single bed.
'How's your tummy now, still sore?' She feathered her fingers through his silky-soft hair. The deep-brown strands matched her own, but his soulful blue eyes were all his father's. She'd fallen for a bigger version of those baby-blues before she'd known the truth – a twinkling look and a sweet smile could mask a monster. Neil had smiled, flirted and flattered his way into her life and she had lapped up the attention like a parched flower, blooming into a blushing, eighteen-year-old bride.
His earnest focus on her, his need to know her every movement, had seemed exciting. He needed her with him, couldn't stop thinking about her, worried someone else might snatch her from under his nose. Oh, the lies he'd told her had been music to her innocent ears. Like Helen of Troy and Paris, theirs was a love that would burn through space and time. Like Heathcliff and Cathy, like Jane and Rochester, nothing could keep them apart. Only she'd glossed over the ugly, hard truths of those childhood love stories in her burning need to feel special to someone.
And how exciting for a naïve girl to capture the heart of an older, wiser man. Neil had been in his first year as a postgraduate student when they met, and at twenty-two he'd seemed a fount of knowledge and experience from the moment they bumped into each other in the Ancient Greece section of the university library. Taking a classical studies course had been Kiki's transparent attempt to please her father, and when Neil found out she was the daughter of one of his intellectual heroes, he'd been hooked. He painted a fascinating picture of a man nothing like the withdrawn, preoccupied one who ruled her home with more neglect than care.
A soft snore drew her attention and she eased her arm out from under Matty's head to settle him more comfortably on his pillow. Content he was asleep, she slipped out of his bed to clean up the mess left behind on the landing carpet. Once that was sorted, she thought she might as well tackle the ironing pile. She cast a quick glance at her closed bedroom door as she passed it. There was no way she wanted to risk waking Neil again, and she could always have a catch-up nap once the kids were sorted in the morning.
'Mummy?' Déjà vu. Only this time the voice was Charlie's sweet, piping tone, still carrying a babyish lisp. And the hard, wooden table beneath her cheek was no substitute for her pillow.
Forcing open her grit-filled eyes, Kiki tried to ignore the sick, groggy pain in her head and sat up. 'What's the time, darling?' A rhetorical question to a three-year-old, but her brain was still too full of cotton wool to think straight.
'It's gone eight o'clock and I'm going to be late, thanks to you,' Neil snapped as he stormed into the room.
She blinked, noting his suit and tie, rather than the casual-jacket-and-jeans look he favoured when lecturing. 'Oh, your meeting. I'm sorry, I must have dozed off.' Jumping up, she hurried over to switch the kettle on and stuff a couple of slices of bread into the toaster. 'Give me a minute, just one minute, and I'll bring your breakfast to your study.'
Neil glared at her, not an ounce of warmth in his blue eyes. 'I already told you, I don't have time. Which part of late don't you understand?' He dodged back to avoid their daughter's attempts to clutch his legs for a hug. 'No, Charlotte! You'll crease Daddy's suit.' He left the kitchen, muttering to himself.
Kiki leaned back against the board, wondering how she'd managed to screw up the day before it had even started. Charlie, lower lip quivering, her dark hair sleep-tangled and knotted, painted a picture of abject heartbreak. Kiki swooped on her, gathering her little girl into her arms for a tight hug. 'Daddy doesn't mean to be cross, Charlie. He's just got a busy day and Mummy didn't help by falling asleep.' Even as the words left her mouth, she wondered why she was making excuses for him. Neil was an adult and perfectly capable of getting himself up and ready for work on time, but the default blame in the Jackson household for any problem fell squarely on her shoulders.
She could just imagine what her big sister would have to say if she could hear her. Mia had never warmed to Neil. Kiki suppressed a bitter laugh. There she went again, painting the situation in a rosier light than it deserved. Mia couldn't stand him. Had even tried to persuade Kiki to leave and bring the children with her to Mia's new home in Butterfly Cove. As if she could just pack up and start again! She hefted Charlie onto her other hip, 'Come on, poppet, let's go and see how your brother is feeling this morning.'
Matty appeared untroubled by his early morning misadventures, so she dropped him off at school, then a bubbly Charlie at crèche for her morning session. Strictly speaking, the rules required her to keep him off for forty-eight hours, but he usually bounced back after an episode and Kiki preferred not to make a fuss about it. His bouts of sickness had started a few months previously, frequent enough for her to have taken her son to the doctor. After a range of tests, they'd not been able to find anything wrong with him, and Kiki was keeping a food diary to see if there might be an allergic connection. She hadn't found an organic link to his problem, and she was beginning to suspect the doctor's other suggestion – stress – might be the real cause.
The resilience the children showed filled her with pride, and not a little guilt. They shouldn't have to tiptoe around their father the way they had been recently. She would have to try and talk to him, ask him to be a little more patient around them. Her stomach churned at the thought, but if she broached the subject when he was in a good mood, maybe she'd get through the conversation without it turning into a shouting match. Not that she did any shouting of her own. Perhaps if she made his favourite meal for dinner ... she turned left at the next set of lights towards the supermarket.
Brushing the flour off her hands onto her apron, Kiki ran to the hall to fish her mobile out of her bag where it hung over the end of the banister. The damn thing had found its way to the very depths and she almost dropped it in her hurry to answer before the caller rang off. 'Hello?'
'Jesus, Kiki. Can't you even answer your phone without a drama?'
'Sorry, darling. I was in the kitchen and I'd left my bag in the hall ...'
Neil sighed. 'I don't need to hear your latest line in stupid excuses. Just go into my study, will you? There's the name of a hotel and a phone number on my jotter and I need it.'
'Hotel?' She crossed the hall and pushed open the study door. The room reminded her so much of her dad's, and it, too, was off limits unless she was cleaning. The high-backed leather chair behind the desk had cost a fortune, but Neil needed to be comfortable when he was working in the evenings. She nudged the chair to one side and scanned the familiar scribble on the cream-coloured jotter. 'What's it called?'
'If. I. Knew. What. It. Was. Called. I. Wouldn't. Be. Wasting. My. Time. Talking. To. You.' She winced at the deliberate pause he put between each word. 'It's on the left-hand side somewhere.'
Using her finger, she traced the scribbled notes. 'Oh, here. Lilly's Island Hotel? Number starts with a plus-thirty?'
'That's the one. Hurry up, I need to get back to the meeting.'
She reeled off the number, then paused. 'Antiparos? Isn't that near Despotiko?' The island was one of the most famous archaeological treasures outside of Delos. Neil ' s research focused on the cult of Apollo and he had been trying to get on a dig at the sanctuary for the past few years. 'Did you get your approval?'
'I won't get anything if you don't stop chattering, but yes, looks like I'll be there for the summer.' He hung up without saying another word.
Kiki sank into the deep leather chair. How many times had they talked about a summer trip to the islands when they'd first got married? Curled up in Neil's bed in his tiny flat, they'd spun dreams of days spent uncovering hidden treasures buried deep in the rocks and nights sipping ouzo and eating local delicacies. Then she'd fallen pregnant with Matty and those dreams were put on hold while they struggled to make ends meet. She'd dropped out, knowing there was no way she could finish her degree with a new baby and Neil needing all the help he could get with his research.
Life had got in the way, as it so often did, but maybe this would be a chance for them to spend some quality time together. A tiny bubble of hope stirred in her heart. Away from the stresses and strains, perhaps they could find a way to make things right between them. The kids could run and play in the sunshine, and she could help Neil catalogue his findings.
She bit her lip, unable to stop a smile. If they could just get back to the way things used to be ... She reached for the wireless mouse on Neil's desk and shook it gently to wake up his computer. A word document filled the screen, so she scanned the lower toolbar looking for the browser icon, but accidentally clicked on the email one. The screen changed, displaying an open message and she gave it half a glance, before looking back at the bottom bar.
Her finger froze on the mouse as the word registered. Who would be calling Neil darling? Ignoring the little voice in her head that warned he would be furious at her for snooping, Kiki rolled the mouse to the top of the message and began to read. Incredulity became denial, became horror, as she followed the email exchange back over several weeks. She wanted to shut her eyes, refuse to see the truth laid out in black and white, but her finger kept clicking on the previous arrow. Every click was punctuated by the same word, the admonishment Neil threw in her face on a regular basis — stupid, click, stupid, click, stupid.
He was right.CHAPTER 2
The problem with his best friend finding a wonderful girlfriend, Aaron Spenser mused to himself, was the way it emphasised the complete failure of his own love life. Ensconced in his very favourite place in the world – the cosy kitchen at Butterfly Cove – he watched the banter between Daniel and Mia and rubbed the phantom pain in his chest.
'Everything all right?' Mia cast him a little frown.
He stopped his hand, embarrassed at being caught mooning over his poor, lonely heart. 'Fine, thanks. Touch of heartburn, that's all.' He paused to give her a sly grin. 'I blame the chef.'
'Cheeky sod!' The balled-up tea towel caught him on the side of the head when he ducked too slowly.
Rising from his assigned seat at the wooden table, he stretched his arms above his head to loosen the last bit of stiffness from the exertions of the previous day. Mia's project to renovate the rundown old house perched beside a beautiful sandy beach in the picturesque village of Orcombe Sands was going full steam. Three of the five guest bedrooms were complete, and the final two were a few days from being finished. Aaron had spent every spare weekend since Daniel's surprise exhibition in March travelling backwards and forwards from London to Orcombe to lend a hand.
Life in the celebrity hurricane could destroy even the hardiest of souls, a lesson Daniel had learned the hard way. Exhausted, hungover and burnt-out, he'd hit rock bottom. Fate, the West Coast mainline and a well-meaning neighbour had delivered Daniel to Mia's doorstep, and into the lonely young widow's life.
His friend's abrupt career change, from successful art photographer to co-creator of a new artistic retreat on the south coast, had set tongues wagging in the gossip-fuelled celebrity circles he'd escaped from one cold, miserable February morning. There was already a huge level of interest and Aaron had helped them set up a mailing list and blog to maintain the buzz.
Every stage of the renovation works on the guesthouse, as well as the adjoining barns, which would house Daniel's haven for artists needing to take a break, was carefully documented and posted on the blog. They'd gained followers from all over the country and enough booking enquiries to fill the house for the entire summer season. The race was on to get everything ready in time for their grand opening next weekend.
Aaron picked at the remnants of red paint stuck under his nails, before abandoning it as a hopeless task. He still had the doorframe and windowsill to gloss in the country-garden-themed bedroom, so he'd no doubt end up with more on his hands. Saturday had been a washout; a huge squall had blown in off the sea, forcing them to keep the windows closed and dropping the late May bank holiday temperatures by several degrees.
The grey army – Mia's in-laws and her neighbours Madeline and Richard – had battled valiantly in the driving rain to stake the most vulnerable flowers and shrubs in the sprawling garden at Butterfly Cove. The two older couples had become firm friends when everyone rode to Daniel's rescue after his ex-agent stole his work and attempted to put on an exhibition without his knowledge.
Pat and Bill had accepted Daniel into their life with a grace that left Aaron breathless with admiration, and not a little jealous over how well the new family structure was blending together. It had been a quarter of a century and his stepmother still hadn't forgiven Aaron for being a living, breathing reminder of his mum. As though thoughts of Cathy had summoned him, Aaron's younger brother, Luke, wandered into the kitchen, mouth stretched wide in a yawn.
Excerpted from Wedding Bells at Butterfly Cove by Sarah Bennett. Copyright © 2017 Sarah Bennett. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Kiki Jackson finally comes to the realization that her husband is just a jerk. He’s mentally abusive to her and her kids and on top of that, he’s cheating on her. Unfortunately, her marriage put a wedge between her and her sister, Mia. Mia has opened a guesthouse at Butterfly Cove and is getting ready to start a new life with Daniel. Kiki decides to take a chance and spend some time with her sister. Of course, there is the handsome neighbor, Aaron, who offers to take her and her kids in and becomes the father figure they never had. Can Kiki risk her heart again? Can Aaron get past his childhood demons and be the man she needs? I have to say that I loved this book. These feel-good, sappy romances always make me happy. In addition, this publisher is obviously in England because the setting is always in the England countryside. I have to admit that it always takes me a chapter or so to realize they are talking about cities in England and not the U.S. What I loved about this story is the evolution of Kiki. She goes from being a psychologically battered woman to someone who can stand on her own and be the strong woman she needs to be for her and her family. In addition, it was nice to see how her relationships with her family members developed, changed, and became deeper based on their past experiences and the abilities to learn and get past them. I haven’t read the first book in this series, but I’m buying it this week. Can’t wait to see what I missed! I give this one a five out of five stars. Thanks to the Publisher and Netgalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
4.5 - "Let Butterfly Cove work it's magic..." Stars! The second book in the Butterfly Cove series continues Mia and Daniels story, in that it mainly takes place around the planning and taking place of their wedding, but the story is in general told through Mia’s sister Kiki. I found her intriguing in the original book, because as a woman with two children in an extremely unhappy marriage, I struggled with her lack of action in relation to doing the right thing by her kids. Again the author gives you a character, well two actually because Aaron Spenser (the romantic interest in this one) is also an adult dealing with a lot of baggage, and takes the drama that their story demands and delivers it in a surprisingly low-angst story-line. Soon the little mouse would roar… I was pleased to see Kiki come to her senses quickly after her ‘turn-the-other-cheek’ attitude in the previous book to her husband’s assholery. Butterfly Cove and its residents are as restorative to her and her children as it was to Daniel and Mia in the first book. "I just wanted one uncomplicated thing in my life, and I thought you were it." This is a story that is what I would call low level romance, the feelings do grow and deepen between Kiki and Aaron, but the story is more focused on both of them dealing with their issues, Kiki in the form of her soon-to-be ex-husband, and her parental responsibilities, and Aaron with long simmering resentments to his step-mother. "You’ll leave me… Everybody does." Having read the first two books pretty much in succession, it’s safe to say that Sarah Bennett has stepped firmly into my auto-buy box, and I cannot wait for the next installment in the series Christmas at Butterfly Cove, if the little glimpses of what its likely to be about from this book are indicative enough its going to be another emotional read, with the added sparkle of Christmas thrown in for good measure! "I hope Butterfly Cove can bring you as much joy as it has me."
Wedding Bells at Butterfly Cove is the sweet follow up to Sunrise at Butterfly Cove (Butterfly Cove #1). This time it’s Kiki’s story. Kiki has been living in a physical and emotionally abusive marriage and the final straw is when she finds out that her husband has been cheating on her. She takes the kids and escapes to Butterfly Cove. There she is surrounded by her sister and the cast of characters she has collected. They allow her the time and support she needs to forgive herself and heal. Aaron Spenser is Daniels best friend and is not without some emotional baggage. When he meets Kiki and her kids he is determined not to fall but the best laid plans of mice and men… I really enjoyed this visit to Butterfly Cove and its inhabitants. This is a sweet, feel good, clean love story that will get you in the awwws. Thank you to Netgalley and HQ Digital for this copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.