Everyone knows Cassie and Henry are meant to be together. Even Cassie's ex-husband Gil knows it. She's got a smile on her face and a Tiffany's ring on her finger and all that's needed is a date to get to the 'I do's.' Only, Cassie's Vintage Catering business is booked for every Ascot for the next five years, she won't commit to a mortgage on a place together and she's spending more time helping her friend Suzy plan other people's weddings than her own. In fact, her girlfriends are beginning to wonder whether her year of independence, spent getting over the breakdown of her marriage, wasn't just a little too successful.
Suzy and Henry's wild and younger cousin, Gem, has no such hesitations. Love has gathered her into its embrace and she's heading to the aisle at a sprint, determined to marry her new man in the Cornish church where her parents were wed. But Cassie realises notices fault-lines in the relationship no-one else appears to see and her friendly advice to think twice spectacularly backfires, leaving her own relationship hanging in the balance.
As Henry departs for a jade mine hunt in Africa, Cassie commits to a summer in Cornwall to try to make amends to Gem. She tells herself everyone has to be allowed to make their own mistakes, but when news comes that Henry's disappeared, she realises she's made one of her own - and that a happy ending and Happy Ever After aren't necessarily one and the same.
Karen Swan was previously a fashion editor and lives in East Sussex with her husband and three children. Her first novel, Players, was published in 2010, followed by Prima Donna. In 2011 Karen's third novel, Christmas at Tiffany's, was a Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller.
When I heard Karen Swan had written a sequel to Christmas at Tiffany's I just had to read it. I needed to know what happened to Cassie - did she really get her happy ever after, after divorcing ex-husband Gil? So when I was asked to be part of the blog tour by Katie at Panmacmillan I jumped at the chance.
With Christmas at Tiffany's Karen Swan had created characters that were solid and well rounded, surrounding Cassie with a friendship circle that bounced off each other, each with different characteristics that fully complimented each other. The beauty about reading a sequel is that we have already been introduced to the main players and in such a way that they seem like old friends, making the transition into a new novel easy. There is always the worry that a second book isn't going to be quite as good as the first, especially when the first was such a big success but, for me, this was equally as good - I loved it.
The love and respect that Cassie and Henry, the main characters in this book, share literally oozes out of the pages, yet somehow Cassie is holding back, her disastrous first marriage is having a damaging effect on her relationship, she just cannot seem to take that final step into a full commitment and it's this that is to the detriment of her relationship with Henry.
Cassie comes across as a confident person, in control and resilient. She has built a strong wall of protection around herself with her friends, relationship and job which allows her to feel this way. But, everything is shook to the core and Cassie literally crumbles whenever talk turns to making that final commitment and tying the knot - nobody can understand her hesitation, least of all Henry and his patience is running out fast.
The opposite is the case for Henry's twenty one year old, wayward cousin Gem. She has arrived back in the UK from a couple of years travelling with a tanned, blonde surfer dude hellbent on tying the knot asap. Her whole energy and outlook to life lights up the room and it's this that seems to zap the energy from Cassie, she feels dull and insignificant in comparison.
I loved the exploration of relationships in this book. Cassie has doubts about her own relationship, founded on her past mistakes and it's this experience she feels qualifies her to advice Gem - not wanting her to jump headlong into a long term commitment when she can spot all is not as perfect as Gem thinks. Not surprisingly a clash ensues but egged on and encourage by Suzy, Henry's sister and Cassie's best friend she continues to try to make her see sense even though by doing so she is putting her own relationship on the line.
It's when Henry sets off on one of his expeditions, leaving Cassie with an ultimatum Karen Swan takes us to a summer in Cornwall where Cassie is trying to do what is right for everyone whilst blotting out any decisions of her own. It's here that love and friendship show through time and time again and faced with the possibility of never seeing Henry again Cassie is forced to confront her own demons.
Love and friendship are the basis for a good relationship but Karen leads us through many twists and turns, ups and downs to demonstrate that trust is the biggest factor needed in any relationship either platonic or romantic. It's this realisation that comes at a point when Cassie thinks it's too late - I literally had my heart in my mouth as I turned the pages.
This was a chunky book, that I literally devoured - the pages practically turned themselves and all too soon I neared the end wanting to know whether everyone got their happy ever afters yet at the same time not wanting to turn the pages for fear they didn't.
This is a perfect summer read that should be seen poolside all around the world, if you haven't got a copy yet I urge you to head to Amazon now - you won't be disappointed and although this is a sequel it can be read equally well as a stand alone book.
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Summer at Tiffany's enter the giveaway below!