I had been excited to read Belinda Jones' novel The Travelling Tea Shop ever since I finished Winter Wonderland (which I adored). It had been awhile since I had spent any time with these characters and I was excited to find out what they were up to and learn more about Laurie, who we only met briefly in Jones' first book. I ended up thoroughly enjoying this novel!
Here's the synopsis:
Laurie loves a challenge. Especially if it involves anything beautiful, baked and frosted. The brief is simple: With three other women, Laurie will board a London bus - kitted out as an English tea shop - on a deliciously different road trip of the USA.
Their mission: To bring home-grown classics like Battenberg, Victoria sponge and scones to the land of cupcakes, whoopie pies and gold-leafed chocolate sundaes.
And to show them how a real cup of tea is made. All of the women have their own secrets and heartaches to heal. As well as a grand appreciation of cupcakes, there's also the chance for romance...
But will making whoopee lead to love?
All aboard for: New York - Connecticut - Rhode Island - Massachusetts - Maine - New Hampshire - Vermont.
One of the things I loved about Winter Wonderland was that the main character worked as a travel writer. That was still present in this book and I was so happy about that (not that I was surprised since Laurie and Krista are partners in the travel company). It was fun to see Laurie's travel brain working to figure out details of the trip. I always love reading novels about travel writers, or even travel agents, and this book didn't let me down in that regard.
The secondary characters in this novel were awesome. Gracie is probably the best grandma I've read in a long time. She was sophisticated but had spunk and wasn't afraid to say what she thought. I liked seeing Pamela find herself and figure out what she needed to do to really enjoy her life. Her daughter, Ravenna, was an interesting one. I really liked the bond she ended up having with Laurie but I have to admit that I kept thinking she was only sixteen or seventeen, not twenty. She acted like a spoiled teenager and that's why I had that picture in my head.
Let's talk about one of the most fun parts of the book: the desserts. I loved the idea of doing a tour of the US (or anywhere, really) and learning more about each location's signature dessert. I liked that Pamela and the chef in each location traded recipes and we got to learn about all sorts of delicious goodness like red velvet cake and whoopie pies. Yum.
I really liked how the romance played out in this novel. Laurie wasn't a woman who really needed a man but that didn't mean I wasn't rooting for her to find someone throughout the course of this novel. This wasn't a case of the heroine being single because she needed to learn to love herself first. Laurie knew just who she was and was waiting for the right guy before bothering with all of that relationship nonsense. I liked that her love interest, whose name I did not write down and cannot find on the interwebs (bad blogger!), sort of appeared out of nowhere (though we eventually learn that there are crazy connections between Laurie, her new fellow, and her travel companions). He seemed to really get her right away, which is something she needed. I also liked that things were left a little open ended. It made it more realistic (though die hard Happily Ever After fans might be left wanting more!).
Overall, The Travelling Tea Shop was absolutely delightful. I'm so happy Belinda Jones decided to revisit this world so we could see how Krista was doing and learn more about Laurie. I'm a little sad that this is probably the last time we'll visit with these characters but it just means that I can check out Jones' other novels! If you like desserts and travelling, this book is definitely for you!
*A copy of this novel was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*