Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“I start every day with hot water and lemon in an attempt to be healthy. I finish every day with leftover cake, so I suppose my life is all about balance.”
This book is one of the cutest I’ve ever read! If the sound of a main character who owns a little tea shop doesn’t make you want to grab a cuppa yourself and dive straight in, then I don’t know what will (and I don’t even drink tea!) I’m so happy to be closing the blog tour for this delightful book, and hopefully I’ll do it justice. Don’t forget to check out all these other wonderful blogger’s reviews too!
It’s time for Ellie to return home and rediscover the past she left behind…
After a tough break-up, Ellie returns to the only place she’s ever really felt at home – the coastal town of Sanderson Bay. A year later, she’s living her dream, brewing delicious artisan teas and selling them at her very own café. And when the mysterious and brooding Ben walks into her tearoom, Ellie finally dares to dream of true love.
But then her ex shows up in the Bay, and just as Ellie discovers some tragic truths about her family’s past, she learns Ben might be hiding an unwelcome secret of his own…
Can Ellie let go of her past and brave a future with Ben?
Straight away, I found this book so easy to read. After a stressful week at work, this was such a welcome change! The author has such a gentle tone with a unique style of writing that’s perfect for anyone to enjoy, and she’s also injected some humour in there too to make the book even more fun for her readers. The main group of characters are absolutely delightful – a group of knitters who just love tea! Except Bessie, she takes a coffee. I could really see myself sat with this group of women, having a good old chat and putting the world to rights. Everything seemed quite normal… until mysterious Ben showed his face and knew exactly who our main character, Ellie, was. How? She’d never even seen this guy before! Even from the first couple of chapters, I had a good grasp of the story and just knew Ellie would be quite smitten with Ben. However, I also felt like he had his own secrets to hide. I was looking forward to seeing how things developed!
It isn’t long before we start to learn more about Ellie and her background, and just how she came to acquire the tearoom I’d already grown to love. The detail the author goes into about Ellie’s life really helps us to understand so much and builds up a nice backstory to keep in our minds as we read. I loved how fun each character seemed and so much of the story forced me to smile. Each page was so enjoyable and I loved the feeling of losing track of time! I felt so immersed in the author’s words which felt like such a breath of fresh air. As much as I questioned Ben at the start, he quickly began to grow on me, but there was still something he wasn’t telling us. The more we get to know him, we understand his secret is likely to be personal – something which makes Ellie reluctant to pry. Would we ever know? Would Ben ever trust Ellie enough to share his personal life?
So many scenes in the book so far felt incredibly cosy, even any mention of Christmas made me want to curl up next to a big open fire! Each discussion the characters have, especially between Ellie and Ben, was so involving and I loved how Ellie felt so at ease with Ben that she openly talks about her mother, which she hasn’t done since the days of her ex partner. I had the impression that Ben half wanted to share his life with her too, but the opportunity passes and still, we don’t know how Ben knows Ellie! The author keeps us so invested so early on, forcing us to ask questions about the characters we meet as well and thinking up our own ideas for where the story might go from here. I’d love the story to continue in such a happy-go-lucky way, but was everything as it seemed? Were we about to uncover some shocking secrets? I was slowly growing impatient (in a good way) and I was so desperate to learn more about Ben!
“I can’t remember when I first started to associate people with the tea I thought they should drink, but these days it’s almost like second nature to me.”
It isn’t long before we find out some new information and it’s definitely not what Ellie imagined. The high hopes she had for Ben seemed to go down the drain and after an explanation of her anger, we understand so much more about her life. My heart broke for her, but I also thought that this issue was something that could be resolved between the two, and I was confident it would be. The author is phenomenal at making you feel exactly what these characters are feeling and even though we hadn’t got to the main chunk of the book yet, I was close to tears! The beginning of the book gave me such confidence in the rest of the book. I felt like we still had so much more to learn about Ben and I also knew things were about to get a whole lot more complicated for poor Ellie. The start of the story was just fabulous and I was looking forward to seeing how the story developed. I really couldn’t fault the way things were going!
It doesn’t take long for Ellie and Ben to start hanging out together, and I loved one particular scene where the pair were decorating Ellie’s cafe. They get to know each other, slowly discussing their pasts, and it soon becomes clear how alike these characters are. They have such interesting stories to tell and I felt like each character gave so much depth to the story. Character creation seems to be one of the author’s many strong points! Ben has to leave and promises Ellie that he’ll return, but we still don’t know the reason for his trip to Sanderson Bay in the first place, nor do we know why he lost his cool in front of a couple of Ellie’s customers. As eager as I was to learn more, I loved how were always kept guessing and how there’s still a mysterious element to Ben, and I found myself always trying to work him out. I know Ellie would be doing the exact same thing! I really hoped he’d stick to his word and return – maybe then we’d find out what we’re desperate to know before we all go insane!
Just when we think everything is going smoothly, we’re hit with two bombshells in the same chapter that made my jaw drop in shock. Marcus? In Sanderson Bay? The one person Ellie really does not want to see right now?! Also, a very distraught Sascha needs Ellie’s help quickly, and is so much more important than whatever Marcus has to say. How dare he show his face?! The author sure knows how to make a scene come to life and this one had to be the one of the most impactful in the book. My emotions were so up and down but my attention was at its peak at this point. I hoped we wouldn’t get any bad news, but with Marcus around, I could sense this wouldn’t be good for Ellie. Would she tell him where to go? Would he stick around? Would he send her into the downward spiral she’d worked so hard to get out of when he left? The first half of the story was everything I’d hoped it would be, and I just knew the author would keep up the pace!
I must steer away from the main story for a moment and express my love for the overall reading experience of this book. Not only were things entertaining and captivating consistently, but I also felt like this story was relatable to many too. We visit themes of love, loss and heartbreak, things we’ve all gone through at one point or another, and I think the author has done such a great job of teaching readers that no matter how bad things may seem in life, good things will come and the sun will come up! Taking hold of the good and letting go of the bad is a theme that is explored in many ways through different characters, and I found myself celebrating all the good news in this book. It was such a delightful experience and I quite literally wouldn’t change a thing. The plot was turning out to be quite perfect – could Ben be the one for Ellie? Or was there still a chance that Marcus could undo all that? I hoped to god he wouldn’t get involved!
“When Marcus left it had felt as though my life was unravelling but the threads of that unravelling had led me to Sanderson Bay, to the cafe, to Sascha, to a place where I could start again, a place where I could be myself again.”
Even though we’ve learnt a lot about Ben over time and some of his secrets have been revealed, there is still one specific detail about his job that seems to be a delicate subject. No matter how much I thought about this, I couldn’t think for the life of me what this might be! Was it a bad thing? Could it potentially get in the way of his relationship with Ellie? The suspense was building as we get closer to the ending of the book, and with each page, I was desperate for answers. I loved how Ellie and Ben’s relationship was growing – they had so much in common and complemented each other well, I just hoped this would be enough. All the way through the story, I’ve felt like a part of what was going on. The author effortlessly pulls the reader into the action; each scene is so clear and it feels as though you’ve known each character for a lifetime! I love this feeling and it makes a book so memorable. I hoped this would continue until that very last page!
Now this part of the story made me tear up unexpectedly! Ellie suffers such a huge blow – one big secret could signal the end of her and Ben. He keeps something significant from her which made my heart sink, but was there more to this than meets the eye? Meanwhile, Ellie finds out the truth about her mother and her past which stirred up emotions for her, as well as me! I feared I’d be a blubbering mess by the end of the story and with the way things were going, this seemed more and more likely. Even though this is so much for the reader to take in at once, the author has revealed this so effortlessly and it made me wonder if there was anything she couldn’t do! Even the most complex of scenes and feelings are written in a clear and concise way, and this impressed me no end. I just knew this would all work out in such a memorable way and I was excited to see how the author does it!
With a potentially fatal incident at the Bay, Ellie’s entire life falters. Some scenes at the end of the book were heart breaking, and even though they were difficult to read and imagine, it was clear Ellie had the best people around her to help her through. This incident really stuck with me and we feel Ellie’s emotion as she tries to make sense of everything that is happening. The author has created such powerful scenes which simply cannot be faulted and I was in a state of shock and awe with every word I read. The book had my full attention, and it’s been a while since I’ve felt this drawn into a story! Where does this leave things? Will she be forced to move from the Bay and her cafe, the one place that’s ever felt like home? I needed some good news after feeling so sorry for Ellie – where is her night in shining armour?! I felt she really needed to talk to Ben and put things right once more.
The closer we get to the end of the story, the more all the pieces fall into place. We learn the crucial parts of Ben and Ellie’s past, we understand all the reasons why the two are simply made for one another and all this was done in a way that just melts your heart. I felt relief wash over me as these characters made up and I had such high hopes for their future. (Look at me, speaking about them like I know them!) The lead up to the final few pages was light and left me with such a feel-good feeling, the kind of feeling when you get some good news and it just lifts you up. I wasn’t sure how the author managed to do this, but I loved it all the same! With the New Year party looming ever closer, would the whole event become a success? After the incident at the cafe, I felt as apprehensive as Ellie did about the new venue and whether the whole thing would work as she’d hoped!
“I don’t feel as though I have much to celebrate, but as I look around the kitchen at this incredible group of women who have helped me in so many ways, and not just today, I know I am fortunate beyond measure.”
I loved how every character we’d grown to love works together at the end of the book – Sanderson Bay is just the dream place with the best community of people and I’m ready to move there right now! Ellie’s friends seem to be the most encouraging people, and definitely a group of people she needs after all she’s been through in recent times. The ending of the book couldn’t have been more perfect or fitting, and even though Ellie still has much to do to make peace with her past, she’s most definitely on the right track. The characters in this book will certainly stick in my mind for some time, and I’m so thrilled with every single part of this book. If I gave this book any less than five stars, I’d be lying to myself – a truly perfect read that rom-com lovers need to read right now!
I wish I could think of a more appropriate word than ‘perfect’ for this book because I don’t even think that word does it justice. I couldn’t have asked for anything else from this author – she’s not only surprised me and had me gripped me from beginning to end with her unforgettable characters and addictive plot, but has made everything feel so real, something I haven’t quite got over just yet! Rom-com isn’t even my favourite genre, yet this book has left an imprint in my heart and mind that will be very difficult to erase. A truly amazing read!
A huge thanks to the author of the book, Rachel Burton, and Aria Fiction for my copy! You can purchase your own copy of The Tearoom on the Bay on Amazon now, available on Kindle and in paperback. Make sure you’re following the author over on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more updates!