The Guestbook by Holly Martin

"Welcome to Willow Cottage - throw open the shutters, let in the sea breeze and make yourself completely at home. Oh, and please do leave a comment in the Guestbook!"

Title - The Guestbook
Author - Holly Martin 
Publication Date - February 14th 2014
Publisher - Carina (Harlequin) 
Format - Kindle Edition 

The blurb
(Amazon UK)

Welcome to Willow Cottage - throw open the shutters, let in the sea breeze and make yourself completely at home. Oh, and please do leave a comment in the Guestbook!

As landlady of Willow Cottage, the young widow Annie Butterworth is always on hand with tea, sympathy or strong Norfolk cider - whatever her colourful array of guests require. A flick through the messages in the leather-bound cottage guestbook gives a tantalizing glimpse into the lives of everyone who passes through her doors. 

This includes Annie herself - especially now celebrity crime writer Oliver Black, is back in town. He might grace the covers of gossip magazines with a different glamorous supermodel draped on his arm every week, but to Annie, he's always been just Olly, the man who Annie shared her first kiss with.

Through the pages of the Guestbook Annie and Olly, along with all the guests that arrive at the seaside retreat, struggle with love, loss, mystery, joy, happiness, guilt... and the odd spot of naked rambling! 

Forget sending postcards saying wish you were here - one visit to Willow Cottage and you'll wish you could stay forever. 

Becca's thoughts 

After reading The Guestbook by Holly Martin, I feel incredibly grateful that there are still authors like this lady in the world. It was absolutely beautiful and I miss the characters already. 

As usual, I'm going to ramble on about the cover first because as you all know, I luuuuuurve da' covers! ;) The cover for The Guestbook is gorgeous! From the second it caught my eye on Twitter, I have been besotted with it and I still am. Probably even more so since I've now read the book and the image of the two characters means something to me. If I rated covers then I would be rating Holly Martin's cover with top marks. Ten out of ten. I don't even need to think about it. 

What really grabbed my attention once I had begun to read was that The Guestbook is not just written like any old story. It's one of a kind in so many ways. Rather than reading through just one viewpoint, you are invited to read the comments that guests leave as they spend their time in Willow Cottage. The comments that the guests leave also encourage the story itself to move along. It was such a clever, enchanting way to progress the character's lives and I really was absorbed in this totally new way to tell a story. 

There are so many wonderful, diverse characters included in The Guestbook, it's entertaining and hard not to enjoy. From a crazy lady who brings a three-legged goat, a tortoise and a rat, to a man who is having an affair behind his wife's back. Holly has honestly thought of every single type of person to invite along and then some. The contrasts between each family and each person's personal situation is astounding and my mind was genuinely blown with the ideas that Holly came up with. I would love to spend a day in the author's imagination, it would be amazing, and a lot of fun too, I'm sure. 

The main character, who is the lady behind Willow Cottage and it's famous Guestbook, is Annie Butterworth. Everything about this woman was utterly lovable; from her adorable, kind caring nature to her last name that just melted on my tongue. She was my favourite character by far. It saddened me to think that she had lost her husband, but her bubbly, positive attitude towards life made me smile constantly. Not only does she deal with her own problems, she also tries to help with her guests' problems too. I admired Annie Butterworth's outlook on life. Even though she hasn't been dealt the best cards, she sends out a message that says, 'Life goes on' and I thought she was brilliant. I imagined her as this larger than life woman who loved everybody, and whom everybody loved back. 

Another character that remained in my mind, although she wasn't a constant presence in the story, is Sophia Lorenzo. Sophia cleans Willow Cottage after the guests leave and the way she just poked into the guestbook now and again really made me giggle. Especially when a guest began to act rather rude, and Sophia decided to smack her one with a comment or two. Absolutely hilarious. 

As well as Sophia and Annie, there was the ever-present essence of Oliver. (Olly)
     Oliver is the brother of Annie's beloved who passed on. As the blurb lets on, Annie shared her first kiss with Olly. I loved the underlying chemistry that bubbled between these two, although both are too scared to do anything about it. You know when two characters are just meant to be? You can feel it in the very being of your bones? Well Olly and Annie were those two characters. Holly created the perfect chemistry between them and I adored it. 

The ultimate reason for me loving The Guestbook is all down to the creativity and imagination of the author, Holly Martin. It has been a while since I have read a story so magical, so enchanting and just so perfect that I do believe she has reignited my reading flame. From the weird and wonderful characters to the beautiful settings of Chalk Hill Village, and of course, the wonderful woman that is Annie Butterworth, this story is one that will stay with me for a very, very long time. Not only is Holly's writing style completely unique, it has made me want to go and visit Willow Cottage and stay there for a couple of days. I would love nothing more than to pop round for a cuppa with the lovely owner. 

I thoroughly enjoyed The Guestbook, and I'm already planning on re-reading again sometime this year.I honestly cannot recommend this enough, it was truly amazing! With that, I'm going to end with a round of applause for Holly, a promise to yap on about The Guestbook to everyone and anyone, and a incredibly worthy rating of 10/10. It was such a joy and pleasure to read, and I said before, I miss Annie and her guests already ;)

Find out more about the author Holly Martin on Goodreads   

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