Category Archives: Life in Icicle Falls

Review: The Tea Shop on Lavender Lane by Sheila Roberts

tea shopTitle: 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 Review:

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.

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Filed under Contemporary, Harlequin, Life in Icicle Falls, Mira, Rated C, Review, Romance, Sheila Roberts, The Tea Shop on Lavender Lane

Review: The Cottage on Juniper Ridge by Sheila Roberts

juniperTitle: The Cottage on Juniper Ridge by Sheila Roberts
Life in Icicle Falls Book Four
Publisher: Harlequin
Imprint: Mira
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


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 has 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!

The Review:

It is probably not a stretch to say that at some point most everyone has experienced an overwhelming need for a simpler, less complicated life. The desire to walk away and begin again in a new place, with less, of well, everything. In Sheila Roberts’ The Cottage on Juniper Ridge this is exactly what Jen Heath does and while she sometimes wonders if she made the right decision, she is thrilled with the new life she discovers.

Jen is stressed to the breaking point working two jobs just to make ends meet. With little personal time, rushing from one job to another, she reaches the conclusion she hates her life. A book about simplifying her life really hits home and she impulsively moves to the small town of Icicle Falls to enjoy a slower pace of life with fewer commitments. Jen easily settles into her new life, quickly makes new friends and finds a part-time job. She is also very interested in her new landlord, single dad Garrett Armstrong, but he continues to hold her arm’s length.

Jen and Garrett might share an attraction, but Jen reminds him a little too much of his irresponsible ex. The old Jen would have been perfect for him, but he sees the new Jen as too flighty and too fun loving. He spends most of the novel pushing her away and she is continually reminding herself he does not approve of her. And then there is the fact that Garrett is dating a local cop and Jen is not out to steal another woman’s man. But as Jen and Garrett are about to discover, the heart sometimes has a mind of its own.

Jen’s sister Toni is happily married but she is feeling disconnected from her too plugged in family. Her husband’s job means logging time on the computer at home after hours and her teenage daughter’s texting habit interferes with family time. Helping Jen move to Icicle Falls, Toni is reminded of happier times and when she reaches her breaking point, she schedules an idyllic mountain vacation for her family. But will their newfound closeness last once they are back in the “real” world?

Stacy Thomas is an empty nester who is feeling a little lost now her kids have moved out. Her home is devoid of kids, but she has plenty of stuff to fill any bare spots. A show about hoarders and a discussion at her monthly book club provide her with a new perspective about de-cluttering her life and opens the door to a surprising career opportunity.

There are a lot of characters and secondary story arcs in The Cottage on Juniper Ridge but each one is distinct and the overall story is easy to follow. The characters are beautifully developed and Sheila Roberts does an excellent job of blending all of the various sub-plots into a cohesive and enjoyable novel.

While there is a bit of a romantic element to The Cottage on Juniper Ridge, it is a mainly a story of friendship that stresses the importance of finding balance in everyday life. All in all, it is a lovely read that old and new fans of the Life in Icicle Falls series won’t want to miss!

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Filed under Contemporary, Harlequin, Life in Icicle Falls, Mira, Rated B, Review, Romance, Sheila Roberts, The Cottage on Juniper Ridge