Title: The Tea Shop on Lavender Lane by Sheila Roberts
Life in Icicle Falls Series Book 5
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: C
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
When it comes to men, sisters don’t share!
After a fake food poisoning incident in L.A., Bailey Sterling’s dreams of becoming a caterer to the stars collapse faster than a soufflé. Now Bailey’s face is in all the gossip rags and her business is in ruins. But the Sterling women close ranks and bring her back to Icicle Falls, where she’ll stay with her sister Cecily.
All goes well between the sisters until Bailey comes up with a new business idea—a tea shop on a charming street called Lavender Lane. She’s going into partnership with Todd Black, who—it turns out—is the man Cecily’s started dating. It looks to Cecily as if there’s more than tea brewing in that cute little shop. And she’s not pleased.
Wait! Isn’t Cecily seeing Luke Goodman? He’s a widower with an adorable little girl, and yes, Cecily does care about him. But Todd’s the one who sends her zing-o-meter off the charts. So now what? Should you have to choose between your sister and the man you love (or think you love)?
The Tea Shop on Lavender Lane, the latest addition to Sheila Roberts’ Life in Icicle Falls series, has a dual storyline featuring the youngest two Sterling sisters.
Cecily and Bailey both left Icicle Falls to pursue their dreams in LA and after things do not turn out as expected, they end up moving back home. Cecily is the first to return home and while she is happy with her career in the family chocolate business, she is ready to marry and settle down. Bailey grudgingly accepts her sisters’ offer of a place to live after a fake publicity stunt destroys her catering business. With Bailey trying to figure out what is next for her professionally, Cecily is torn between two very different men. The bond between the sisters is tight but after Bailey enters into a business partnership with one of Cecily’s love interests, jealousy and sibling rivalry threaten to destroy their relationship.
An ex-matchmaker, Cecily has successfully set up several of her friends, but she has not been as fortunate in her own love life. She is finally ready to begin dating again and she has two completely opposite men interested in her. Luke Goodman is a widower with a young daughter and Todd Black is the bad boy owner of a disreputable tavern. She is drawn to Luke, but she cannot ignore the sizzling attraction she has for Todd. Cecily dates both men but which one will win her heart?
While Cecily is dealing with her romantic dilemma, Bailey finally emerges from her depression over her failed catering career and takes a temporary job as a desk clerk at a local B&B. Although she is afraid to cook professionally again, she fills in as a weekend breakfast cook and regains some of her lost confidence. A surprising opportunity comes her way to open a tea shop and she excitedly begins planning her next business venture. Unbeknownst to Bailey, her new partner happens to be one of the men Cecily is dating and after Cecily’s insecurities lead to some very unfounded accusations, the sisters’ relationship rapidly deteriorates.
Cecily and Bailey are well-developed characters but I found it difficult to like either of them. Bailey has an annoying habit of dissolving into tears at the first hint of trouble and her insistence that she could never cook again professionally is a little unreasonable considering no one actually was sickened by any food she has served. Cecily’s desperation to get married and start a family overshadows the romantic aspect of her storyline. Her ultimate goal is marriage and she is pretty much planning the wedding before the relationship has progressed past casual dating. The conflict between the sisters feels contrived and immature, and the situation between them spirals of control.
Todd and Luke are likable characters but their development feels superficial. The bare facts are given about each of their backgrounds, but it is all surface information. Luke’s back story is barely touched on but he is a nice guy and at times, he is a little too nice. Despite having more insight into Todd’s past, he sometimes comes across as emotionally distant and a little shallow.
While there is more a romantic element the previous novel in the Life in Icicle Falls series, The Tea Shop on Lavender Lane is firmly based in reality with plenty of conflict and unexpected twists and turns. Sheila Roberts brings the novel to a satisfying conclusion and neatly wraps up all of the loose ends with a nice epilogue.