[Review] The Little Teashop in Tokyo by Julie Caplin


romance | adult | contemporary

For travel blogger Fiona, Japan has always been top of her bucket list so when she wins an all-expenses paid trip, it looks like her dreams of the Far East are coming true.

Until she arrives in vibrant, neon-drenched Tokyo and comes face-to-face with the man who broke her heart ten years ago, gorgeous photographer Gabe.

Fiona can’t help but remember the heartache of their last meeting but it’s not long before the Japanese art of contentment and a special, traditional tea ceremony work their magic…

Amidst the temples and clouds of soft pink cherry blossoms, Fiona and Gabe start to see life – and each other – differently.

This advanced copy was provided by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange of an honest opinion.

If you like a light, quick read romance, this is the book for you. The relationship trope is one of my favorites ever, and the dissing and bantering was entertaining to read. We have two characters with a past history that never expected to see each other again, only for fate to bring them back together and have them work together. Except one of them doesn’t remember the other, awesome.

Too many photographers hide behind their cameras and they end up with superficial, surface shots. A good photographer reveals the layers beneath.

We have complex characters living their adult life (it’s hard to say this when I mostly read YA) and dealing with their different views of life and their expectation of it. Both characters are missing something in their life and that’s dragging them down. I believe what got me more invested was the way they help each other grow back into themselves. 

The way Fiona’s enthusiasm reminds Gabriel of his passion for photography, of his love for the art, the motivation and creativity he had lost. While Fiona got freed of the humiliation and sense of failure that had affected her entire life after what happened with Gabriel when she was 18. 

The Kobashi family, who hosted Fiona during her time in Japan, was also one of my favorite things from the book. They’re perspective of life was refreshing, reminding the characters, and us, that we have to enjoy life, live in the moment, to enjoy things while they last, and we have to embrace our mistakes. 

And of course, the real reason why I even requested this book, the travel side. Traveling to Japan was one of my plans for 2020 and reading this book has only made me want to buy the ticket and get my ass on the plane. Since Fiona is traveling to Japan for the first time in her life, most of the common and popular sites are mentioned. Such as Mount Fuji, the Robot Restaurant and Tokyo Skytree. It was all very basic, but I loved how Fiona did not focus on the sites themselves, but the way people reacted to them. And it was beautiful to imagine seeing a temple’s tori for the first time, or the view from up high on the Skytree. I also want to try tempura so bad once I’m able to eat fried things without retching in disgust.

The romance was there but…

Maybe it’s the fact that my passion for fanfiction has been reignited in the past few months, but the romance in this book was kinda meh.

And I know I can’t expect a blown out romance or too much cheesiness in an adult romance novel. However, the moment I realized this was not going to make me feel gooey and fluffy, I at least expected some big drama to go down. And there was drama, but it happened at a point in the book where it felt predictable and was not that interesting.

Also, and this is probably just me, whenever sexual tension comes in too blatantly as it did here I can’t help but cringe. “I felt warm in places that didn’t have a reason to be warm”, I just… no.

Overall, it was a nice read. Like I said, if you want to get something nice and quick, with character development (and mad dashes through the airport), this is the book for it.

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