I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing the book “Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop” by Roselle Lim! It’s been a while since I read what some would consider “chick-lit” fiction. When I read the summary of this book, I was intrigued and I knew I had to read it. Paris? Tea? Fortunetelling? The concept sounded fun. Here’s a quick summary so we know what it’s about:
“Vanessa Yu never wanted to see people’s fortunes — or misfortunes — in tea leaves.
Ever since she can remember, Vanessa Yu has been able to see people’s fortunes at the bottom of their teacups. To avoid blurting out their fortunes, she converts to coffee, but somehow fortunes escape and find a way to complicate her life and the ones of those around her. To add to this plight, her romance life is so nonexistent that her parents enlist the services of a matchmaking expert from Shanghai.
The day before her matchmaking appointment, Vanessa accidentally sees her own fate: death by traffic accident. She decides that she can’t truly live until she can find a way to get rid of her uncanny abilities. When her eccentric aunt, Evelyn, shows up with a tempting offer to whisk her away, Vanessa says au revoir to America and bonjour to Paris. While working at Evelyn’s tea stall at a Parisian antique market, Vanessa performs some matchmaking of her own, attempting to help reconnect her aunt with a lost love. As she learns more about herself and the root of her gifts, she realizes one thing to be true: knowing one’s destiny isn’t a curse, but being unable to change it is.”
Plot Development: 3 out of 5 stars
I thought that the plot of this book made sense overall. The pacing was fairly slow after the first few chapters. I wish the pacing would be tighter on its multiple plotlines. However, I am glad that the book had a happy ending and that all the plotlines were resolved without little-to-no lingering issues. I also liked reading that Vanessa became a matchmaker-in-training herself by the end of the story.
A main nitpick I had with the plotline was the believability of the tea shop’s finances. Sure, the boycott didn’t help things. However, there are numerous scenes where Vanessa and her aunt Evelyn eat lots of takeouts and/or go out to eat. I’m not familiar with how affordable food is in Paris in real life so I cannot say if this is a completely glaring issue. Additionally, Vanessa comes from a fairly wealthy family with lots of connections. Because of how easily Evelyn and Vanessa can just go out and get food plus the wealthy family background, it’s hard for me to find the boycott part of the plotline fully believable.
Character Development: 3 out of 5 stars
I thought that Vanessa’s overall individual character development was very slow in the beginning. She was determined to get rid of her powers, and then got sidetracked by her romance with Marc before she outed his gambling addiction via her abilities. After that, all of a sudden she wanted to learn more about, and harness, those powers. After that happened, she decided to try to fight her fate, which had mixed results. I was left confused by how she came to terms with accepting her abilities as well as how they changed for her close to the end of the book.
As for the other characters, I didn’t sense a lot of development from them. I liked Michael the best and I would actually be interested in reading more of him and maybe meeting his partner, Jack, as well.
Romance Development: 3 out of 5 stars
There was one main romance plotline between Vanessa and Marc. The book did not focus too much on their romance since the main story was about Vanessa’s individual growth. However, I appreciate how Vanessa realized that Marc’s gambling addiction would make things worse for them in the future. It was good that she cut off the relationship when she could. It also was nice to later see that Marc went to get help with his addiction, resulting in the two reconciling and getting engaged by the story’s epilogue.
However, I felt that the story would be better if Vanessa stayed single at the end. She already came to terms with her losing romance in her life due to her abilities. Additionally, she was at terms with knowing the person she loved wasn’t a good match for her at the time. She didn’t need another person in her life romantically to be happy.
As for the other two romances between Evelyn and Girard and Ines and Luc, I thought they were both fine to read. It was almost too much of a given that Evelyn and Girard would reconcile. However, I’m surprised Evelyn forgave Girard so easily for him letting his associates organize a boycott of Evelyn’s business.
Additionally, I enjoyed reading the mentioned and discussed LGBTQ+ representation the book had sprinkled throughout the story. For example, Vanessa gets to tell an unnamed woman via her abilities that the woman she confessed her love to does reciprocate her affections. Another example is that Vanessa’s uncle, Michael, is in a romantic relationship with a photographer named Jack. Though the reader never meets Jack in person, this relationship is discussed between Vanessa, Michael, and other characters from time to time. The story centers on Vanessa, a straight (or at least straight-presenting) heroine. However, it was nice that the author acknowledged romances happening other than heteronormative ones.
Overall, I’m rating this book 3 out of 5 stars!
I recommend this book to those that enjoy reading romance on the side, food descriptions, and fortune-telling characters. Other books that I’ve read that have these elements include “The Travelling Tea Shop” by Belinda Jones and “Coffee and Faerie Cakes” by Laura Simons.
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