Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Emma's Review: The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts by Jennifer Joyce

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

From fairy cakes to first dates!

Maddie Lamington’s dreams are crumbling around her. If she doesn’t come up with a plan to save her little teashop on Sweet Street soon, it might be too late…

So when she sees how the perfect apple crumble brings together her lonely father and faithful customer Birdie, inspiration strikes: she’ll set up a dating night involving all her sweetest bakes.

Luckily, seriously gorgeous Caleb is on hand to help sprinkle a little magic – and a lot of sugar! Could one night of scrumptious first dates fix Maddie’s heartbreak and save her beloved teashop, too?

Amazon links: Kindle

Teashops and cafés seem to be the setting of choice this year for a lot of books as I know of at least four that either mention teashop or café in their titles or in the blurbs. Not that I am complaining because I feel these kinds of books are nice, easy, light, escapist reads perfect for mixing it up between heavy or light books or even between genres. The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts first caught my eye when the cover was revealed on Twitter and I thought it was just gorgeous and so welcoming. It's a quick read that if you had the time to sit uninterrupted you could read in a couple of hours or else it would only take a day or two to enjoy.

The story follows Maddie and her battle to save her life's dream, the teashop, which is located on a quiet street away from the hustle and bustle of the town centre which may be more of a hindrance rather than a good thing. I saw mentioned that this book would be perfect for fans of both Jane Linfoot and Debbie Johnson and now having finished the book I couldn't agree more it definitely falls into the category/writing style of the aforementioned authors and readers who enjoy this style would love The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts. On the cover it says the teashop is the place where all your sweetest dreams come true - well I'm not so sure that is the case all the time as tumultuous periods are ahead for Maddie and her friends before said statement can come anywhere near to fruition. Maddie's dream teashop has been open for just over a year and it's safe to say all her hopes and aspirations haven't been realised. She loves her job and the small shop and the cosy feeling it creates for the few customers that venture there but all her ideas of an overflowing shop and treats and cakes flying out the door have not materalised. It's not through want of trying or drive on Maddie's part yet she can't quite put her finger on just why something so nice and tempting has not taken off. Things are bad enough that if something radical doesn't happen within the next few months she may well be forced to close down the teashop.

Right from the beginning I could see Maddie was all heart. She lavished attention on her customers including regular Birdie with her bulldog Franklin. Birdie was such a brilliant character and was the real mother figure throughout the story and played quite a pivotal role in more ways than one. Regarding all aspects of the shop Maddie gave 110% but unfortunately didn't get the same in return. I could see she was just about reaching breaking point but didn't want to go down without a fight. In fact it's this determination and willingness to accept the help of close friends with their suggestions that made her a character the reader would want a positive outcome for. I felt her despair that her heart and soul had gone into the teashop for the past year would all be for nothing if only she could come up with some unique idea that would set the café apart from all the rest than her fortunes may have stood some chance of being reversed. Maddie too has had her heart broken in the past and I wondered would the title come into play in her storyline? When it did I felt her opinions were completely justified although others would try to persuade her otherwise.

I did think there were quite a number of characters to get to know throughout the story and began to think were they all really necessary as they seemed to flit in and out quite regularly? We had Victoria who was the waitress/washer up in the café who is in a band with aspirations to make it big in the music world. She wasn't my favourite character, she wasn't as warm as some of the others and I understand that was her persona but I found myself reading quickly through the paragraphs where she was mentioned just to move on a bit. Although I will say the conclusion to her aspect of the overall story was lovely and it was very unexpected and certainly took me by surprise. I did love Mags – Maddie's best friend who helps in the café and also keeps an eye on the books. She was so supportive and I felt she kept Maddie on track when things became ever so slightly too much for her. I enjoyed Mags' storyline, it was sweet, uplifting and gave one hope. The story didn't always focus the action on the café and Maddie's dad gets a mention too which made the reader understand much more as to how Maddie thinks and operates the way she does. Birdie's grandson Caleb and his adorable daughter Cara (who was an absolute scene stealer numerous times over) also begin to come into the picture. Not to mention the requisite group of builders who frequent the café. There were other characters too, maybe more minor, but for me there was just that one too many and at times I would forget certain people and what was ongoing with them until they popped up again.

The first half of the book moved along at a nice pace with all the setting up to do .The descriptions of the cakes and treats made in the café were salivating and I would suggest have something sweet to hand while reading through this mouthwatering story. Once inspiration had struck Maddie to get the business back on track after several failed ideas I thought the book would take off at a cracking pace. The idea of a speed dating night with desserts was brilliant and I hadn't read anything like it before in a book. I fervently hoped it would be the thing that would save the café and Maddie's dream could still continue. Maybe along the way a spark would ignite between couples some made for each other, others unlikely and surprising. As I have said I would have hoped the book would be racing towards said night and I was dying to see what would happen with everyone but it seemed to take forever to reach the all important night and I'll admit to losing interest ever so slightly. But on reflection now it's been over a week since I finished this book it wasn't really all about the night more about the led up to it and all the little sub plots being developed and the setting up starting to come to the fore with connections being established and resolutions being found. I suppose the night itself was the icing on the cake and when it finally did arrive I enjoyed the later few chapters immensely.

Does it all work out for Maddie and co in this special little teashop for broken hearts or will things just get too much and she gives into failure? As the saying goes no pain without gain. I wanted Maddie not to give up but to put in the time and effort required because nothing in life ever comes easy without hard work, grit and determination all day every day.  Hopefully she would find both professional and personal happiness. The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts was a lovely read if slightly slow at times. I like Jennifer Joyce's style of writing and would love to read more from her in the future.

I'd like to thank Emma for reviewing The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts which we received from the publisher via NetGalley. 

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