It’s 1967 and Claire has a second flush on love. She’s making the most of it by running her own tea shop.
Richard, still single, is a successful realtor and believes he has it all until he meets Claire.
Both can feel the steam in the room when they’re together, but will Claire take a dip into the world of love again?
Claire’s Tea Shop is a short story prequel to Tea Shop for Two, the first instalment in the sweet romance series Love on Belmont.
“What flavour of tea do you recommend today?” Richard asked as she returned from putting the record away.
Claire stepped behind her counter and stared at the dozens of teas stored in decorative tins on shelves.
“I still can’t believe you want to try each one. Don’t you have a favourite by now?” Everyone Claire knew had a favourite tea.
Her best friend, Jan, for example, always drank Ceylon scented with rose. She was a romantic through and through. An elderly customer, Mr. Shoemaker, purchased tea only for gifts, as though he didn’t deserve a flavourful tea for himself. He was always surrounded by a cloud of sadness. Claire believed that finding the perfect flavour for him would bring him a little happiness.
David, her deceased husband, had insisted that loose-leaf tea was for snobs.
“I promised to try each one before I settled on a favourite.” Richard walked over to the counter. “Hmmm...well, I believe every feeling has a tea, so, since you don’t have a favourite tea, how are you feeling right now?”
Richard leaned on the counter and smiled. It was a gentle smile, not a “you’re mine” smile, like David’s had been.
“I’d say...I’m pretty happy right now. How about one of your mixes today.”
Richard’s eyes reminded Claire of the coppery colour of Lapsang Souchong, a smoked black tea from China.
She pulled a tin off the shelf. “I have a special blend of Earl Grey. Actually, a variation, since Earl Grey is already a blend. I call it Earl Claire.”
She lifted the lid off the tin and offered it to him.
As Richard’s hands reached for it, though, Claire panicked, set the tin on the counter, and pulled her hands back.
I’m doing it again, she thought. Why can’t I stop it? She was attracted to Richard, and she knew heliked her, too, but she didn’t want another relationship. So why couldn’t she stop sending him signals?
She stepped back from the counter and locked herhands behind her back. Richard let out a little cough and stood up straight.
Claire brushed a hair out of her face. “It’s my own blend, sorry, variation, of Earl Grey, like I said. It’s a blend of premium Ceylon, Darjeeling, and Assam. Bergamot oil. Obviously.” She let out a nervous laugh.
“That’s what makes it an Earl Grey. I add vanilla and a touch of lavender. It has a very balanced flavour, not too pungent, not too light. The added flavours lift everything so beautifully—it’s almost like your taste buds jump in your mouth but the balance of the black tea base flows through your body.”
Talking about tea helped Claire relax again, but she knew she needed to stop misleading him.
Something you’re failing at miserably, she thought.
She's opened his eyes to the delicious world of tea. Can she open her own heart to his love?
It’s 1967 and young widow Claire is living her dream as the owner of Claire’s Tea Shop, a dream she refuses to give up on again.
Richard is a successful up-and-coming realtor and believes his life is complete. Until he falls cup over saucer for Claire.
Both feel the steam in the room, but Claire fears falling in love again will force her to choose between a second flush on love and her beloved store. Can she find the perfect blend of romance and dreams?
Will tea bags come between Claire and Richard?
It’s 1987 and Claire’s Tea Shop is losing business to herbal teas that promise health benefits, the doughnut shop that serves smokers, and Claire’s ultimate nemesis: tea bags that offer convenience. So intently focused on saving her business, Claire’s romantic feelings for Richard, her husband of almost 20 years, have all but evaporated.
Seeing his wife struggle leaves Richard’s heart steeped in sadness. She refuses his every offer of help but it’s almost Halloween and Claire must turn things around by Christmas or risk closing her store forever. Richard takes one last courageous stand: He suggests Claire sell tea bags.
Can tea and Christmas magic mend a broken heart?
Claire and Richard are preparing Claire’s Tea Shop for the 40th Annual Christmas Sale and Tea Party. When Pauline, their oldest daughter, surprises them with news of a dream opportunity for herself, Claire and Richard know their family has been touched by Christmas magic.
Until they see that Pauline’s broken heart is holding her back from believing in herself.
Claire and Richard want Pauline to follow her dreams. Can their special blend of love flush out the hurt in their daughter’s heart?
Across the tracks and up a set of cement stairs from Lori's grandmother’s home was Belmont Village, a quaint shopping district with restaurants, a drug store, a convenience store, and several small businesses. The neighbourhood for Lori means family and romance, which is why she's set both her young adult and romance series there.
Lori is also a former competitive dancer, dance teacher, and theatre manager, and was a member of the first Canadian National Tap Team, back in 1996, under the leadership of Bonnie Dyer, with choreographer Matthew Clark. Dance took Lori to competitions all over Southern Ontario, into the US, to Disney World, and to Germany. She has many fond memories of performing with her dance team.
And that's why she uses dance as a backdrop in many of her stories.
Oh! And she's also spent a day in Luxembourg and 15 minutes in Switzerland, and she can still do cartwheels.