26 June 2014

Book Review: The Travelling Tea Shop by Belinda Jones

"A delectable tale of love, friendship and cake...

Laurie loves a challenge. Especially if it involves tea-time and travel. So when British baking treasure Pamela Lambert-Leigh needs a guide on a research trip for her new cookbook, she jumps at the chance.

The brief:

Laurie and Pamela - along with Pamela's sassy mother and stroppy daughter - will board a vintage London bus for a deliciously unusual tour of the USA's East Coast, cruising from New York to Vermont.

Their mission:

To trade recipes for home-grown classics like Victoria Sponge and Battenburg for American favourites like Red Velvet Cake and Whoopie Pie.

All the women have their secrets and heartaches to heal. As well cupcakes galore, there's also the chance for romance...

But will making Whoopie lead to love?"

Rating: 3/5

You can buy The Travelling Tea Shop as a paperback or an eBook now!

There's something about the summer which always means that a new Belinda Jones book is on the horizon! I've read so many of her fabulous summer novels and feel like I've travelled around the globe with her brilliant characters. This is a lovely new book, set across the east coast of America, so again it's a lovely travel-orientated book. That cover is just stunning too, with the pink and green foil highlights on the paperback, it's certainly a book that makes you want to grab it and devour it quickly, much like the story inside!

This is the story of the adventure of four women as they travel the East Coast on an old London bus. There's Laurie, a travel guide writer who is more than up for the job of being tour guide for her new clients, TV chef Pamela, her mother and daughter too! Laurie has to take them to lots of places, finding out the speciality cake of each state, and gifting them a British one in return. But things aren't quite plain-sailing on the trip, especially with the tensions between Pamela's mother Gracie and her daughter Ravenna running at an all-time high. Laurie, however, is determined to make the trip a success, and this might mean getting in the middle of more than one family argument along the way...

Any book filled with cakes is a book for me, and I was really looking forward to tucking in to it, and reading all about the yummy cakes that Laurie and co were going to get stuck into! Those of you who have read Belinda's last book Winter Wonderland will recognise the character of Laurie who made a few appearances in that book - we also get back in touch with Krista from that book too, it's nice the way that they cross over so easily. Laurie was a likeable character, quite no-nonsense and determined to make the trip successful and exactly what Pamela and her family need. She clearly loved her cake too, and wasn't afraid to scoff a slice or two, I liked that about her!

The other main characters in the book were Pamela, Ravenna and Gracie, the three women on the trip. To be honest, the only one I really liked was Gracie, she told it how it was and didn't want either her daughter or grand-daughter to ruin the trip in any way! Pamela was just a bit wimpy, especially towards her daughter, pretty much giving her what she wanted, when she wanted it, and Ravenna was just a spoilt, rude little girl. I really struggled to warm to either of them, and so it was hard for me to care about their back story, and whether or not they'd sort out their family differences. However, because I struggled to care about them as characters, and consequently as a family, I wasn't overly bothered by the end as to what happened to all of them, whether or not they sorted their differences felt a bit irrelevant to me.

The trip was fun to read. It was great to read about the different destinations, from New York to Boston to Maine, there were lots of different places in there to keep you interested, and consequently lots of yummy sounding cakes as well! There was a lot of heavy description about the places that they stopped at too, and at times I felt like the narrative got bogged down with these - it was just too heavy for me and made the reading feel somewhat stilted. The pace of the book was okay for the most part when there was dialogue happening, but as I said it did get stuck at times. Lots of secrets are revealed, a few of them left me frustrated as to how they were dealt with by the characters, and I felt they were perhaps strung out longer than they needed to be. Jones has clearly done her research here, she knows what she's talking about in regards to the places they visit on the trip, the cakes and various other things, but the characters, their dialogue at times and other things didn't gel for me. It wasn't my favourite of Belinda's books unfortunately, but it's still a pleasant and easy read.

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