Last Orders at the Star and Sixpence by Holly Hepburn: all the atmosphere, tensions, warmth and humour of life in a small village - book review -

Last Orders at the Star and Sixpence
Last Orders at the Star and Sixpence
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The course of true love never did run smoothly at the quaint and cosy Star and Sixpence pub tucked away in a rural corner of Shropshire

The course of true love never did run smoothly at the quaint and cosy Star and Sixpence pub tucked away in a rural corner of Shropshire.

But the arrival of a handsome new Spanish chef at everyone’s favourite hostelry is set to make one woman’s heart flutter just at the moment she had decided that romance was definitely off the menu.

Pour yourself a big G&T and head back into the perfect village pub which captured the hearts of thousands of readers in 2016 when Holly Hepburn’s four gorgeous Star and Sixpence novellas, first produced in ebook form, were brought together for the first time as a novel.

Packed with fun, romance, drama and a host of lively and beautifully drawn characters, these addictive stories set at the beating heart of a close-knit village community are the next best thing to stepping into your local and enjoying all the latest gossip.

When sisters Nessie and Sam Chapman inherited the 17th century Star and Sixpence pub in Little Monkham from their estranged father in Shropshire, they jumped at the chance to escape from their messy lives and start afresh.

Nessie had just walked out on a 15-year marriage that had long run its course and Sam was running away from her life as a PR golden girl in London, along with a few secrets as well. Since then, they have renovated the run-down pub and turned their lives around.

But as the locals welcome the return of autumn, it appears that change is afoot in their tiny community, and it seems that not all of it will be for the better.

Nessie has moved out of the Star and Sixpence and into next door Snowdrop Cottage to live with Welsh blacksmith boyfriend, Owen Rhys, and his nine-year-old son Luke, leaving Sam alone in the pub.

Sam has still not recovered from the trauma of breaking up with Joss Felstead, the pub’s cellarman who won her heart and then broke it when he left ‘for both their sakes’ because the relationship’s bad times had begun to far outweigh the good.

But it seems that Sam might not be so lonely after all when dark and handsome Spanish Michelin-starred chef Gabe Santiago moves into the Star and Sixpence, bringing with him new hopes of winning the much-coveted National Pub of the Year Award.

Determined not to mix business and pleasure again, Sam’s instant attraction to heart-throb Gabe is inconvenient and she is determined to cold-shoulder any idea he might have of getting close to her, but that proves to be the least of her worries when an unexpected visitor arrives at the pub, determined to stir up trouble.

As Gabe and Sam grow closer, Little Monkham’s latest arrival threatens to reveal a secret that will turn more than one world upside down. Can Sam and Nessie work through the fall-out, or will it be last orders at the Star and Sixpence?

Hepburn captures all the atmosphere, tensions, warmth and humour of life in a small village as we follow Nessie and Sam through a series of rollercoaster personal dramas in the unforgettable Little Monkham with its immaculate green, weather-worn historic houses and mixed bag of residents.

With back stories to discover, romances to unfold, secrets to be unearthed, and Gabe’s exotic new dishes to enjoy, there is never a dull moment from first page to last as the cast of colourful characters spring to life with the most startling results.

Expect tears, emotion, lashings of wit, a big helping of heart, and a return trip to Castle Court, the enchanting food court nestling behind Chester’s famous Rows which starred in Hepburn’s tasty novel, A Year at Castle Court.

Late night reading at the Star and Sixpence is always guaranteed!

(Simon & Schuster, paperback, £7.99)