Review: The Tea Shop on Lavender Lane by Sheila Roberts

tea shop on lavender lane by sheila robertsFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, mass market paperback
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Life in Icicle Falls, #5
Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Date Released: July 1, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

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)?

My Review:

I always enjoy visiting Icicle Falls, no matter who is being romanced. This small-town feels like a great place to visit, and the town it’s based on, Leavenworth, Washington, is not just real but really close to Seattle.

In addition to the chance to go back to Icicle Falls, The Tea Shop on Lavender Lane also provides the opportunity to catch up with the Sterling women. Samantha Sterling and the Sweet Dreams Chocolate Factory got their HEA in Better Than Chocolate (reviewed here), but now it’s her younger sisters Cecily and Bailey’s turns to find their own happiness.

Better than Chocolate by Sheila RobertsCecily has been working at Sweet Dreams since the first story; she’s found her niche as head of the marketing department. Her successful campaigns have helped to put Sweet Dreams and Icicle Falls back on the map, and into the black, in spite of the recession.

The one part of her life that Cecily hasn’t found a plan for is her love life. She’s attracted to two eligible men in town, Luke Goodman and Todd Black. Luke really is a good man, he’s the factory manager at Sweet Dreams and a loving single father. His first marriage was a success, but enough time has passed since his wife’s death that he is ready to try again, and he wants to try again with Cecily.

But as much as Cecily likes Luke, she can’t help but be attracted to bad-boy Todd Black, owner of the testosterone soaked local bar, the Man Cave. Todd’s been chasing Cecily ever since he hit town, and he’s decided that it’s time to make his move.

Cecily (and Samantha’s) younger sister Bailey throws a spanner into everyone’s plans. Bailey returns to Icicle Falls with her tail between her legs, after her attempt to run a catering company in LA is wrecked by one starlet’s food-poisoning publicity stunt.

Bailey needs a job. She needs more than that, she needs a way to get her confidence back. And she needs to work with food again, to get back on the horse that threw her.

It just so happens that Todd Black is much more of an entrepreneur than anyone, especially Cecily, gives him credit for. And he just so happens to own a property in central Icicle Falls that would be perfect for a Tea Room, with just a bit of sweat equity and repair.

Todd has just what Bailey needs. Except that Cecily has decided that he has just what she needs, admittedly in a much more personal way. So while Todd and Cecily are trying to take their relationship to the next level, Todd and Bailey are discovering just how much fun they can have building a business together.

Meanwhile, Luke Goodman is watching from the sidelines, hoping for his chance to convince Cecily that they belong together after all.

Escape Rating B: As is usual in the Icicle Falls series, the romance (or romances) take a backseat to the small town/family story.

We have more than a love triangle in this one, we have a love quadrangle. Luke loves Cecily. Cecily can’t make up her mind between Luke and Todd, to the point where everyone in town is confused about which one she’s dating. Then Todd starts falling for Bailey, and vice-versa.

Part of Cecily’s romantic confusion is that Luke is the steady and sensible man she should want, while Todd is the bad-boy that every girl wants to reform. Or at least that’s Cecily’s perception.

The reality is that Todd isn’t nearly as bad a boy as he seems. That Cecily can’t figure that out is proof positive that they aren’t meant for each other. However, Todd and Bailey’s mutual attraction brings out the possessive bitch in Cecily. Cecily has so many insecurities, particularly about Bailey, that she doomed the relationship before it had a chance to begin. Which it shouldn’t have.

The fallout makes the town choose sides, and causes a family rift. It isn’t until Luke finally sweeps Cecily off her feet that the sisters are able to make peace. The romance in this one is very messy.

There’s an intended message here, that men may or may not stick around, but sisters are forever. I think there was a second one about listening to that little voice that tells you something is not a good idea. Cecily knows that Todd isn’t right for her, but she can’t resist the lure. At the same time, she won’t let herself move the relationship forward, because there are just so many things about him she wants to change.

Bailey likes Todd just as he is. It helps that she sees all of him, the entrepreneur and the hard worker, and not just the bad boy image he projects. Which may be another message about falling in love with the real person, and not thinking you’re going to change them.

It was great to see the Sterling sisters get their own HEAs, and it’s always a treat to visit Icicle Falls. I can’t wait to go back in The Lodge on Holly Road!

The Tea Shop on Lavender Lane banner 2 (1)

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Guest Post from Sheila Roberts about the REAL Icicle Falls + Giveaway

cottage on juniper ridge by sheila robertsMy special guest today is Sheila Roberts, the author of the Icicle Falls series, including today’s featured review book, The Cottage on Juniper Ridge. Because this series is so lovely, and the town of Icicle Falls seems like such a marvelous place, I wanted to learn more about it, especially since it is based on a town very near my current homebase of Seattle.

Here’s Sheila to tell us all about her Icicle Falls and the real-life version you can visit!

The Real Icicle Falls
by Sheila Roberts

Readers often tell me that they wish my town of Icicle Falls was a real place. Well, here’s the good news. It is! Well, at least it’s based on one.

My imaginary town of Icicle Falls is based on the town of Leavenworth, Washington, one of my favorite places to visit. Granted Leavenworth doesn’t have it’s own chocolate factory like Icicle Falls does (and it probably doesn’t have some of the squirelly characters, either), but it has the wonderful views, the friendly people and the great spirit of determination. And, just like in Icicle Falls, the people of Leavenworth sure know how to celebrate a holiday. One of my favorite times to visit is during Christmas when they have their town tree-lighting ceremony. (And yes, Icicle Falls has one, too!)

Leavenworth_WashingtonLeavenworth is a popular destination town with a healthy economy but it wasn’t always so. In the early sixties, after The Great Northern Railway pulled out, choosing a different route through the mountains, this town nestled in the Cascades was in danger of becoming a ghost town. But the town leaders put their heads together and decided that, with its beautiful mountain setting, Leavenworth could be as charming as any alpine village. And they set about transforming the town from a typical western town into something truly special. Everyone pulled together to make this happen. “And we did it all without any government help,” says one of the older residents. In this day and age that’s really something to brag about.

In addition to changing the look of their shops and stores, the people of Leavenworth came up with a series of festivals designed to draw visitors. Today these festivals bring in over a million visitors a year.

I love the fact that a little imagination coupled with determination and hard work of the townspeople literally transformed this place. It’s a charming town filled with wonderful people, and I try to convey a little of their town spirit in my Icicle Falls books. I hope my characters are people that readers will enjoy and want to spend time with.
And, if you ever visit Washington I hope you’ll stop by Leavnworth, stay in one of its charming B & B’s, enjoy the scenery and the shopping and the great people who live there. I hope you’ll visit Icicle Falls, too!

Sheila RobertsAbout Sheila Roberts

Sheila Roberts is married and has three children. She lives on a lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her novels have appeared in Readers Digest Condensed books and have been published in several languages. Her holiday perennial, On Strike for Christmas, was made into a movie for the Lifetime Movie Network and her her novel The Nine Lives of Christmas has been optioned for film. When she’s not writing songs, hanging out with her girlfriends or trying to beat her husband at tennis, she can be found writing about those things dear to women’s hearts: family, friends, and chocolate.

To learn more about Sheila, please visit her website or blog. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.



Sheila will be awarding a $25 B & N gift card and an eCopy of The Cottage on Juniper Ridge to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a $25 B & N gift card to a randomly drawn host.

To enter, leave a comment on this post. For more chances to win, follow the other stops on Sheila’s tour.

Review: The Cottage on Juniper Ridge by Sheila Roberts

cottage on juniper ridge by sheila robertsFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction
Series: Life in Icicle Falls #4
Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Date Released: February 25, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

How to Change Your Life…

Can a book change your life? Yes, when it’s Simplicity, Muriel Sterling’s guide to plain living. In fact, it inspires Jen Heath to leave her stressful, overcommitted life in Seattle and move to Icicle Falls, where she rents a lovely little cottage on Juniper Ridge. And where she can enjoy simple pleasures—like joining the local book club—and complicated ones, like falling in love with her sexy landlord, Garrett Armstrong.

Her sister Toni is ready for a change, too. She’s got a teenage daughter who’s constantly texting her friends, a husband who’s more involved with his computer than he is with her, and a son who’s consumed by video games. Toni wants her family to grow closer—to return to a simpler way of life.

Other women in town, like Stacy Thomas, are also inspired to unload their excess stuff and some of the extra responsibilities they’ve taken on.

But as they all discover, sometimes life simply happens. It doesn’t always happen simply!

My Review:

This is a sweet treat of a book, and not just because all the characters discuss their problems with regular applications of Sweet Dreams Chocolate from the local chocolatier.

Speaking of Sweet Dreams Chocolate, it is terrific to see how all the lovely people who starred in the previous books in the Icicle Falls series, (Better Than Chocolate, Merry Ex-Mas and What She Wants) are doing now that they have their own HEAs.

Better than Chocolate by Sheila RobertsBut the main characters of The Cottage on Juniper Ridge are Jen Heath, who rents the titular cottage, her sister Toni, and local resident Stacy. They are each, in their various ways, influenced by Muriel Sterling’s latest book, Simplicity. (We also know Muriel from Better Than Chocolate, and why she needed to get some simplicity in her life.)

Jen reads Muriel’s book, and decides that it is time she got some of her own simplicity back. Her life in Seattle has become so busy with the drudgery of two jobs to pay for a condo she can’t afford that she hates her life. So she buys into the siren song of Muriel’s book to the point where she rents a cottage in Muriel’s home town of Icicle Falls and puts her condo in Seattle on the market.

Jen is reaching for a simpler life where she has time to do things she enjoys and kindle some new friendships. She wants to find the joy that she used to have.

What she finds is a hunky landlord who is also a firefighter. She falls into insta-lust, but he thinks she’s a complete flake for turning her life over so irresponsibly. He’s already been in love with one irresistible but irresponsible ditz, and he’s not interested in doing it again, even though he adores the child that came out of his impulsive first marriage.

Jen creates a new life for herself, and hopes that her landlord will eventually get the stick out of his ass and see that the sparks they generate could lead to a real relationship. Garrett, in turn, tries to force himself into a relationship with someone steady and solid. It takes him a long time to realize that the heart wants what it wants, and that looking for the fun in life does not necessarily make Jen selfish, childish or even remotely flakey.

While Jen is getting her new life together, her sister Toni is searching for someplace where her family can not just get away from it all, but disconnect from the electronic gizmos that are always distracting them from each other. It turns out that the little Washington town that her sister moved to on a whim may be the perfect place to find her family again.

Icicle Falls resident Stacy just needs to declutter her life. It takes a cosmic push for her to realize that she doesn’t own her stuff, she has so much stuff that it owns her. It takes a lot of effort, and some whole new ways of thinking, for Stacy to find a channel for her love of finding beautiful things.

Icicle Falls sustains and supports them all.

Escape Rating B+: Like all of the Icicle Falls series, The Cottage on Juniper Ridge is primarily a story about the supportiveness of strong friendships. In this case, the friends are the members of the Icicle Falls Book Club, a group of women who share books, chocolate, and a chance to unwind in a place where everyone understands what the others are going through. It’s their once-a-month break for some “me time” with the BFFs who will be there for them, no matter what.

Jen Heath comes in from the outside, but her shared love of books and the general friendliness of the town is enough to get her adopted by this tight-knit bunch of marvelous women. They help each other through whatever needs to be shared and/or listened to. We all need a group like this in our lives, but it’s hard to find!

The tying element of Muriel’s book, Simplicity, resonates with each of them differently. They are all over-worked or over-committed, and the book makes them stop and think about ways they can de-stress their lives, just a bit.

While it is the story of Jen’s journey of self-discovery that drives the book, Stacy’s story had a tremendous amount of resonance. It’s not just that she has been letting her hunt for beautiful bargains fill her empty nest, but how many memories she has invested in what to other people looks like “stuff”. At the same time, it was great in Stacy’s story to see a long-term marriage that is happy, where the husband is supportive and generally terrific and the couple feels lucky to be together.

Where so many stories ignore women who have achieved their happily ever after, in The Cottage at Juniper Ridge we see a whole range of experiences, from Jen’s search for true love to Toni’s need to reconnect to Stacy’s search for her own purpose within the context of a continuingly happy marriage.

Icicle Falls continues to be a marvelous place to visit, filled with people you’d love to meet. I can’t wait for the next book!

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.