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Saturday, December 2, 2017

Summer at the Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard - Book Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Emmy loves working for Rupert at La Cour des Roses. She's managing the guesthouse and feels right at home there. She is exactly where she belongs, being in France among people she treasures. She's about to get married to Alain and she can't wait to be his wife. However, the preparations for the wedding are going far from smoothly. Emmy has asked her mother to help with the organization and even though her interference is welcome time wise it is quite a struggle in all other areas. Emmy's mother is a handful and she's making things difficult for Emmy, Alain and Emmy's friends. Will Emmy be able to fix this problem?

When the wedding comes nearer something starts feeling wrong and this is threatening Emmy's happiness once more. A terrible family secret comes to the surface and Alain's ex is causing trouble. This puts Emmy and Alain's relationship under pressure. Emmy has got the perfect wedding ahead of her, but will she actually have her much anticipated big day or will something ruin her plans and cause a rift between her and Alain?

Summer at the Little French Guesthouse is another wonderful book about Emmy and her adventures in France. I enjoyed reading about La Cour des Roses again very much, it's one of my favorite fictional settings. It's such a gorgeous place and I had fun reading about Rupert's personal life, his guests and his dog as usual. Emmy is a sweetheart and wants to make everybody happy, but sometimes she needs to stand up for herself instead. She's a strong woman and she can handle more than she thinks. She has such a good personality and truly deserves a happy ending, I couldn't turn the pages quickly enough to see if she would get it and would actually marry the handsome Alain or not.

Helen Pollard has written such a lovely series, I enjoyed reading the La Cour des Roses book from beginning to end. The most amazing thing about them is the atmosphere. I love the way Helen Pollard makes the guesthouse come to life, it's exactly how a cosy guesthouse in France should be. She writes about second chances, interesting relationships, friends, family and true love in a fabulous captivating way. She combines this with plenty of charm and entertainment. Summer at the Little French Guesthouse is another heartwarming feelgood story about Emmy and her friends. I will miss reading about them and highly recommend this series.


If you love France and like a great romantic story you should definitely read the La Cour des Roses series. I'd advise you to read the books in their correct order, because you don't want to miss any of the details.

About Helen Pollard

As a child, Helen had a vivid imagination fuelled by her love of reading, so she started to create her own stories in a notebook.

She still prefers fictional worlds to real life, believes characterisation is the key to a successful book, and enjoys infusing her writing with humour and heart.

When she's not writing, Helen enjoys reading, scrapbooking and watching old seventies and eighties TV shows.

Helen is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association and The Society of Authors.

Author links

Guest post

The inspiration behind the setting for the Little French Guesthouse books
By Helen Pollard

I wouldn’t say that my books are solely inspired by a setting, but what I can say is that I find it hard for a story to take off until I can picture the setting clearly in my mind.

Long before I began to write Book 1 of the La Cour des Roses series, The Little French Guesthouse, I’d had the opening scene at the back of my mind – the idea of a woman catching her boyfriend with an older woman, rather than someone younger, while they were on holiday. But at that point in my life, I wasn’t even writing (young family, no time, too tired!)

Then one year on a family gîte holiday in France, as we were leaving I felt a real pull for the place and suddenly I thought, ‘This is it! This is where that scene takes place!’

Once the setting was in my mind, I couldn’t wait to get that opening scene down. I decided to start writing again, the floodgates opened and the story evolved from there.

Of course, the setting was altered and developed in my imagination. The place where we’d actually stayed was simply a couple of gîtes and a house where the owners lived – no guesthouse. So I made it into a guesthouse, increased it to three gîtes, made the grounds larger … whatever I needed to do so that the place would fit the story as it progressed. It wasn’t long before La Cour des Roses was like a real place to me.

The Loire area of France was perfect for my stories. It embodies the ideal that everyone thinks of when they think of France:

Rolling green countryside, vineyards, sunflowers …

Sleepy little villages, quaint historic towns and châteaux …

We’d also camped in the area several times over the years, so I felt I knew it well enough to get it across in my writing.

Even so, I realised that looking back over old holiday photos and enjoyable memories wouldn’t quite do the trick in helping me immerse the reader fully. For all three books, I did a lot of internet research, ensuring I had my facts straight and ‘revisiting’ places at Google Street View level, so I could picture them perfectly when I wrote.

The imaginary local town in the books, Pierre-la-Fontaine, is loosely based on a real town that we visited several times and loved. But many of the places Emmy visits in the course of the series are real – towns, châteaux, cave dwellings.

In each book, there is a slightly different emphasis on the area. In Book 1, Emmy is simply clinging onto sanity, busy helping the guesthouse owner after their mutual relationship traumas … but the local town and environs, the French way of life and La Cour des Roses itself slowly seduce her. In Book 2, as she starts her new life in France, even though she’s busy her friends make sure she takes time to discover some of the wonderful local towns and tourist attractions. And in Book 3, Emmy has settled into a way of life that is hectic but allows her to enjoy the simple pleasures – cycling, canoeing, coffee with friends in the town square … even crazy golf!

Immersing myself in the place as I wrote made me feel almost homesick, and I’ve often had to remind myself that La Cour des Roses doesn’t really exist!


One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a digital copy of The Little French Guest House and a French rose necklace made by Cleophea Resinea.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.


  1. Thank you for reviewing! I'm so pleased that you enjoyed it as much as the others :)

  2. Summer at the Little French Guesthouse sounds like an utterly uplifting feel-good story. Perfect reading for a summers day.

  3. this sounds like a great book, easy to read, yet interesting enough to keep you guessing at what will happen, thanks xx

  4. Yes, back to the Little French Guesthouse, I don't mind confessing I am in love with Alain

  5. That necklace is gorgeous!The book sounds perfect for the beach in the Christmas holidays :)

  6. This sounds like a good story, thanks for the review and giveaway!

  7. Awww the flowers on the cover! I always wanted those

  8. Helen, I enjoyed reading your guest post. It's a long time since I've been in France. Your pictures are beautiful !!

  9. I love that you already had the scene in your head & then were able to see the actual location.

  10. Story on the different ways of destroying a wedding. Perfect!

  11. Oh, that photograph of the field of sunflowers - stunning and just makes me smile!