It’s early evening at the Yumchaa tea room in Soho and dotted among tables laden with chocolate brownies, raspberry muffins and marshmallows, are 20-odd women, aged from 28 to 88, who have gathered for the first night of a Mills & Boon book club. Despite the startling lack of men, romance is in the air. Miniature hearts are scattered like confetti on every table and even the loose-leaf teas, which have names like Egyptian Nights, seem to have entered into the sultry spirit of things.
There is, of course, very little tea drinking in Mills & Boon land. Romantic heroes are far too busy running business empires and chasing the heroine to ever touch the stuff, and romantic heroines are far too busy falling in love and having passionate sex to ever put the kettle on. But 31-year-old Trinh Hoang, who co-owns Yumchaa with her Canadian husband, Sean, believes that lovers of romantic fiction will flock to her tea room for the chance to swap notes on their favourite authors. "I wanted to put people together who are as nuts about Mills & Boon as I am," she says. "I’ve been reading them since I was 12."
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