Cover Image: A Wedding in the Olive Garden

A Wedding in the Olive Garden

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Member Reviews

A lovely heartwarming story set in the small island of santaniki, Sara escapes there after a disastrous relationship. This story tells of her rebuilding her life and at the same time so is Griff. This is the first book that I have read by Leah Fleming but won’t be the last. 
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for letting me read this book in exchange for a review. I will be putting this review on Amazon too.
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Heart-warming, escapist and lyrical, A Wedding in the Olive Garden is a gloriously uplifting read set on a beautiful Greek island that is immensely enjoyable.

Sara Loveday had sought refuge on the beautiful island of Santaniki after life had gone pear-shaped for her. Having vowed to changed her life and to make a fresh start for herself, she embraced her new surroundings with gusto and spotting a gap in the market, she had set up a wedding planning business focusing on second chances and on couples who have already walked down the aisle once before who might like to try their luck at a happy ever after again. Sara has thrived among the breath-taking scenery, white-washed villas and the intoxicating scent of the olive groves, but now that she has finally got her first big wedding commission, she needs to put out all the stops and prove once and for all that she can make it in Santaniki and she will do whatever it takes to prove all the doubters and nay-sayers wrong. Of course, whoever said that the path to true love never did run smooth must have had a crystal ball because as Sara tries to make her couple’s dream wedding day a reality, obstacle after obstacle is thrown in her way making her wonder whether someone has got it in for her!

Sara has certainly got enough on her plate. She does not want or need anything else to throw her best laid plans into further disarray and cause even more chaos and disruption. But when a mysterious visitor arrives on the island claiming to know Sara, her fledging business could end up being jeopardised by the vicious lies and untruths which he seems keen on spreading all across Santaniki. Is her business going to end up going under and force Sara to close up shop just when things had started to take off? And what about the gorgeous man who has come to Santaniki with whom Sara has fallen head over heels in love?

Will Sara’s first wedding event go off without a hitch? Can she put a stop to the scurrilous lies being spread about her all across the island? And will Sara ever have a happy ending of her own?

A wonderful read that is as beguiling, invigorating and seductive as a week away to Greece (and the closest we will probably get in a long while), A Wedding in the Olive Garden is laced with humour, emotion, conflict and plenty of drama to keep you eagerly turning the page. Leah Fleming is a wonderful storyteller who grabs her readers’ attention from the opening line and keeps you enthralled and entertained throughout.

Compelling, dramatic and engrossing, A Wedding in the Olive Garden is a Greek-set tale you are simply going to fall in love with.
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I loved this. Leah transports you to the beautiful island off Crete where you meet all the interesting characters who either live there of are visiting.

Sara had escaped to St Nicks after a disastrous experience back home in Sheffield and soon falls in love with the island. She starts to reassess her life, makes new friends and builds a new opportunity.

Griff, also making a new life for himself meets Sara. They don't make things easy for each other but eventually come to see that they are in fact well matched.

I was blown away by the i sland, it's fantastic scenery and colourful characters. Thank you Leah for a wonderful read.

Best wishes.
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I haven't reviewed or got a copy of book 1 but I was expecting to love this. Too fast paced, too many characters that I could not connect with. I did like Mel though and Spiros, I thought they were welcoming and helpful. 

Loved the location of the fictional islnd of Santaniki (very imaginative name) although the visuals could have been more developed to stand out. For example, anyone who has seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding knows that food is a HUGE thing for Greeks and in Greece and that like all Mediterranean countries, the act of eating "al fresco" is a huge rite in itself. 

I felt the food sounded nice, but the visuals did not make it mouthwatering to me like they have in similarly themed books. The wedding clothes at the celebration Sara is witness to were rushed in their description and a wedding is a bride's best day of her life- I felt that scene could have been developed more for atmosphere. 

As I said earlier in the review, I wanted to love this, it just wasn't immersive enough for me and I felt Sara's decision was too predictable the way it came about. I did understand her reasons for leaving Sheffield as well as the happiness she felt upon meeting Mel and realising she too was from Sheffield and that immediately giving them something in common. But even that happened too quickly. It could have been enhanced with more internal thought from Sara. I would have liked more internal thoughts and feelings from all the characters. 

The book felt too rushed and predictable-I knew what Sara was going to do long before she did it. 

The structure of the book, with sections named after months gave a sense of build up and anticipation which was good. The cover is divine. I'm afraid the book wasn't what I thought it would be. 

Thanks to Leah Fleming and Head of Zeus for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. 

2.5/ 3 stars.
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Sara Loveday had left Sheffield and was on her way to Santaniki, a beautiful Greek Island. After the flight she boarded the ferry to take her on the final lap of her journey. The water was turquoise and choppy with the see breeze cooling her skin. She came across a middle aged man retching over the side, he was the Crime writer Don Ford and was taking summer courses at the retreat house. They started a conversation and she told him she was taking her annual holiday. He told her she was in for a treat and said she’d find him most nights in Taverna Irini on the market square with his students and suggested she join him. That was the last thing that Sara needed, someone making a pass at her so she smiled and drifted away. As the ferry came into the port on the island Don offered her a lift in his taxi to Ariadne Villa where she was staying. Sara refused saying the walk would do her some good, she soon started to regret her stubbornness, it was hot, her map was sketchy and she was tired. Eventually she made it to the villa for three whole weeks to shut out the world. Or that’s what she thought...
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Favorite Quote:

“I thought it was the man who did the proposing, you brazen hussy,’ he laughed… ‘Then you’d better get down on your knee and ask me proper. My knees aren’t up to it. If I get down I’ll not get up again. I suppose I’ll have to fork out for a wedding ring then,’ he laughed.


My Review:

I’ve never been to Greece but I feel like I’ve just returned as Ms. Fleming’s writing was so descriptive I felt like I was inhabiting the small Greek village right along with the characters, and I enjoyed getting to know their customs and foods without ever having to set foot in the airport – oh happy day.  This was an active but slowly developing plot with multiple intersecting storylines while populated with a large international cast of uniquely quirky and fractious characters.  Being an animal lover I particularly appreciated the message of responsibility and rescue and rehoming of strays.  I also picked up a new phrase for my Brit Word List with spoilt for choice – which means having lots of options.
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On a beautiful Greek island, Sara Loveday begins a new life after her old one implodes. She sets up a wedding planning business for couples making the plunge for the second time. After all, it takes a brave and determined heart to take a second chance on love. But while at first the business seems like it will be a success, a series of misadventures and the arrival of a face from the past may put Sara’s new venture in jeopardy. How lovely to read about a beautiful and exotic place while we are all in lockdown. Flemming’s story helped put a smile on my face and lightened my heart
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A beautiful heart warming read that made me love Sara with each pages as she made a new life in the island of Santaniki for herself away from the cheating boyfriend.

Author Leah Fleming was so talented in the way she showed me each of Sara's strengths as I kept reading. Bring a wedding planner, it was uplifting to see how she conducted her life with dignity even when romance did come knocking. Beautiful descriptions of the locale added a layer to this wonderful story.

A truly beautiful read, an escapism from the scary world, this warmed the cockles of my heart.
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This is an absolutely brilliant and heartwarming read that I loved from beginning to end, and did not want to put down. 

Sara Loveday is heading to the Greek Island of Santaniki. She's hoping to escape her issues from home and get a break to clear her head. 

Sara immediately falls in love with all the island has to offer. With its Olive groves, beautiful blue seas and the traditional villas it is the perfect place to think more about what life has to offer. With this in mind Sara begins to plan her future and she she thinks she found the perfect new business idea of holding weddings on the island, these will be especially for second time couples. 

Sara decides that she needs longer to work out her business plan idea so extends her stay too. 

With her stay in Santaniki extended Sara begins to get to know the locals from the village and is soon making friends and joining in with all the events on the island too. 

Sara then has the opportunity to plan a big wedding and she holds it in the olive gardens of the local artists retreat. Sara is enjoying making this wedding so special and unique to her friends, but thinks don't go entirely to plan when a face from her past appears and he is spreading lies about Sara. She finds this so hard to deal with and doesn't know which way to turn. 

Will the relationships she has made on the island, especially with the handsome Griff, and her love for her new home be enough to help her make her business a success or will she head back to England with another failure?

This is such a brilliant, warm and uplifting read that really gives you an insight into the customs and values of the village life. 

The writing style of this book is so inviting and the setting of this book sounds just perfect for some much needed escapism. The book is also set over a two year period so the story flows at a gentle pace. 

I liked getting to know Sara, its wonderful to see her blossom and grow with the confidence she develops in Santaniki. She makes some great friends on the island too which really offer her a great support. 

I really liked the way this book is set out. It almost has a series of smaller stories interwoven to make a bigger one. It also means you can get to know more of the people staying and living in Santaniki.

This was the first book I have read by Leah Fleming but it definitely will not be the last.
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The Blurb :
Sara Loveday ditches her cheating fiancé at the altar and flees with her best friend to the beautiful island of Santaniki. Here, amid the olive groves, the sun-drenched fishing villages and the glittering Mediterranean sea, Sara vows to change her life. Spotting a gap in the local tourist market, she sets up a wedding planning business specializing in "second time around" couples. Griff becomes manager of an artist's retreat owned by a famous novelist. After the failure of his business back in London he is determined to make this new venture a success. But when Griff loans the retreat's olive garden to Sara for her first big wedding, things do not go to plan: family feuds, rowdy guests and resentful locals derail her carefully prepared event. When a stranger from Sara's past arrives on the island spreading vicious lies, will Griff and Sara's new found closeness survive? This gorgeous, warm-hearted and uplifting novel conjures the local color, traditions and close bonds of island life.

My Thoughts :
Here we meet Sara Loveday, after ditching her fiance, who has been cheating on her she decides to go away for a break to Santaniki in Greece. Despite only meaning to go for 3 weeks, Sara ends up staying and sees an opportunity for work. In England, she runs an event planning agency. Seeing a gap in the market, sara decides to start up a wedding planning business there right in Santaniki. As we follow Sara on her new adventure, we are in for a treat especially when Griff is thrown into the mix. He is also escaping something and keeps things close to his chest.
Will romance be on the cards or is it a relationship based on business?!.
A good supporting cast throughout and likeable charactors.
Greece makes a beautiful setting and its easy to get lost in the surroundings, tasty Greek food and warm sunshine on your bones.
Great read from Leah Fleming.
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This is my second visit to the island of Santaniki and it's a thoroughly enjoyable one.

Sara Loveday just needed to get away from Sheffield; some time in the sun seemed the best option so she finds herself renting a house on the Greek island of Santaniki. When she finally relaxes in the sunshine, she realises that a change of direction in her life would be a good idea. When she sees a local wedding taking place, the idea of a wedding planning business featuring this beautiful island location begins to take root. Can she move on and leave her past behind?

I loved my little jaunt to this Greek paradise; as well as the telling of all the beauty on the island, this author doesn't shy away from the cultural differences and it all adds to the story. With a fine cast of characters and a good mix of British and Greek characters, this is a smashing read and the wedding planning part of the details were fascinating. I've always thought there is a big difference between those who get married for the wedding and those who get wed for the marriage and Leah Fleming does a fine job in displaying this in a fun, entertaining way. A very enjoyable read with lots going on, a little bit of mystery and any loose strands tied off by the final page. An excellent four star read!

My thanks to the publisher for my copy via NetGalley and to Vicky Joss for my spot in this tour; as always, this is my honest, original and unbiased review.
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This story has an eclectic cast of characters and a beautiful Greek Island setting. Sara is running from her past. The island lifestyle appeals to Sara. When she sees a business opportunity, she takes it. The story that follows is full of conflict, humour and poignant moments.  The vividly described islanders and setting make them easy to visualise.

Full of cultural description, emotional depth and uplifting moments this story is a lovely escape.

I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus in return for an honest review.
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I would like to thank NetGalley and the publishers for asking me to read and review. 
This story was a wonderful read.
 It is well written with some characters that are well rounded and as a reader you feel you are right there with them and feel the emotions that they are going through. The plot draws you in, keeping you wanting more and turning those pages.
A brilliant, addictive read.
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A beautiful setting and is a heart warming story with a sprinkle of romance, a feel good read with likeable characters. This is the first book I have read by this author and I look forward to reading Leah's other books.  I enjoyed this one. ThankYou to the publisher for the approval in return for an honest review and to netgalley.
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A fabulous few hours of escapism. While trapped in lockdown I found myself really wanting to be in Greece, and thinking about moving my Covid Postponed wedding the Greece! 

Wonderful, I am looking forward to reading more from this author!
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A Wedding in the Olive Garden is a departure from my usual diet of historical fiction but doesn't everyone need/deserve something sweet and indulgent from time to time, such as a slice of baklava perhaps? Having really enjoyed the author's previous book, The Olive Garden Choir, it was a delight to return to the (alas, fictional) Greek island of Santaniki and to be reunited with some of the characters from the earlier book. My personal favourite is Irini, transformed from mother-in-law from hell to avenging angel on this occasion.

It was also great to make the acquaintance of some new characters. One of these is Sara Loveday who has her own reasons for wanting to begin a new chapter in her life, reasons which she is unwilling to share with anyone initially (including the reader). Luckily, her new wedding planning venture requires all her attention if it's to be a success.  A number of couples amongst the island residents have their own very special and personal reasons for wanting to get married and it's not long before they are making use of Sara's services. The first wedding she organises is notable for a very unexpected arrival.  

With all this going on there's definitely no place for romance on Sara's extensive to-do list. At least, that's what she thinks.

I can certainly attest to the publisher's description of A Wedding in the Olive Garden as "a gorgeous, warm-hearted and uplifting novel conjuring the local colour, traditions and close bonds of island life." Of all the weddings featured in the book, my favourite was the traditional Cretan wedding in which the whole community pitch in to help. There are also fabulous descriptions of island's celebrations of Easter and of the feast day of Phanourios, patron saint of lost and found, whose services are definitely needed at one point.

I have to mention the luscious descriptions of food such as these offerings from the lunchtime menu of the taverna run by Northern lass Mel, her husband Spiro, and the aforementioned Irini:  gigantes (butter bean stew), mountain greens in oil and lemon, salad of beetroot, garlic and walnut, village sausages, and roasted vegetable salad with feta. Oh, and don't forget a carafe of the local wine and a raki to finish.

If A Wedding in the Olive Garden doesn't have you longingly browsing travel websites ready for when 'normal' life returns, or even planning your own dream wedding, I'll be surprised.
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Loved this book. Great characters, easy read, uplifting, funny, romantic and charming. A really nice story that is the perfect escapist read.
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Such a great story. I was immersed in the characters' lives from the beginning. 
Great descriptions set the scene and took me on a journey to another country. 
Thoroughly enjoyable and recommended.
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A lovely and entertaining story that I couldn't put down.
I love the great setting, the likeable characters and the storytelling.
I look forward to reading other story by this author.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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A Wedding in the Olive Garden, Leah Fleming

Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews

Genre:  Women's Fiction, Romance

Women's fiction again....sigh, its 2020, why do we have this outdated genre heading? 

Anyway, I thought I'd love this book, an escapist read, romance and sunshine. I liked it, but sadly didn't love it as I expected :-( 
I loved the Greek setting, the sunshine and sea, the food, the local flavour that made it feel real. What I had issues with were some of the characters, especially Griff and Sara. I understood why she did what she did, what I didn't understand was why she felt bad about it, why she kept it a big secret. Still, I guess a big chunk of book would have gone if she didn't – it just didn't feel right for me though. Griff was a lovely guy but he and Sara are really prickly to each other at first, she is rude to him on first meeting, shocked I get but rudeness once explained? Griff too is hiding, escaping, keeping things quiet and I understood that. You don't tell all the world your history when you first meet but when it was clear he and Sara maybe getting closer, perhaps a hint of the past would help? I don't know, it just seemed there wasn't that magic connection between them. 
I loved Mel and Spiros, and the mother in law ( forgot her name). They were so real to me, especially when MIL goes all Mafiosa towards the end! There were some other great secondary characters too, and Sara's fledgling business provided some great moments. 

Stars: Three, a good read, just some parts felt a little not-quite-right for me. As aleays though, reading is subjective and others will – and do – love this story. 

Arc via Netgalley and publishers
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