Welcome, Jessica. Again! Actually, Jessica should just take up permanent residence on my blog as I enjoy everything she writes and fall in love with every book cover she shares with us. Clearly, I’m thrilled to have a stop on this wonderful blog tour organized by Rachel’s Random Resources.
This blog tour is promoting two of Jessica Redland’s Christmas books, which have been re-released. If you’d like to read my review of the original version of Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes, click here.
You ever read a really good book? You every loved every page as you turned it and just felt yourself slipping more and more into the story? You ever wanted just a little piece more, just a smidgen more detail to get totally lost in? Ever mention that desire in your review? Ever have the author actually write that bit extra just for you? Hahahaha. Okay, maybe not just for me but still… Jessica you are awesome!
Everyone is getting into the festive spirit on Castle Street – snow is falling, fairy lights are glistening and Christmas shopping is underway.
But for Tara Porter, owner of thriving cafe, The Chocolate Pot, this is the most difficult time of the year. From the outside, Tara is a successful businesswoman and pillar of the community. Behind closed doors, she is lonely.
With a lifetime of secrets weighing on her shoulders, she has retreated from all friends, family and romance, and shut her real self away from the world. Afterall, if you don’t let them in, they can’t hurt you. She’s learnt that the hard way.
But as the weight of her past becomes heavier and an unexpected new neighbour moves onto the street – threatening the future of her cafe – Tara begins to realise that maybe it’s time to finally let people back in and confront her history. It could just change her life forever…
Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café was originally released as Christmas at The Chocolate Pot Café. Now re-released with a new title and new cover, this version has been freshly edited and features several new chapters.
I reviewed the original version of this book back in 2018. It was called Christmas at the Chocolate Pot. I think I might’ve already said I enjoyed it. Since then author Jessica Redland has partnered with Boldwood Books and has re-released several books in her back catalogue and written some brand new ones for us too. When she re-released this story it was edited to include a few more scenes, some special details and was renamed Starry Skies Over the Chocolate Pot. You can read Jessica’s post here about the thinking behind the re-release.
I had all intention of taking a quick browse through the story, read the new parts and just enjoy. However, there’s a reason this lady is one of my favourites, I got completely lost in the story all over again. And because I knew pretty much what to expect, I wasn’t rushing to find out what happened next. I dallied over all the details and really luxuriated in the words and depth of the characters. Here is my review of the new version.
Pollyanna, or Tara as she’s known, is supposed to be the eternal optimist. She’s always supposed to look on the bright side of things. She’s meant to find every silver lining. She plays the ‘glad game’ because no matter how tough the situation, there’s something good that comes out of it. Sometimes, however, even a Pollyanna needs to take stock of the bad and fully process it if she has any hope of properly moving on with her life. This story is Tara’s journey through the darkest time in her life and how she finds the strength to reclaim her past and ultimately, her future.
Just from that paragraph, you get an idea of who Tara is. She’s a typical Jessica Redland heroine in the sense that she’s complex, vulnerable, caring and incredibly strong. She needs to realise just how strong she is, though. She’s spent 14 years hiding from her family and hiding her past from her current friends. She watches those around her, those she loves, find self-fulfilment and happiness… she even helps them on their journeys but she refuses to allow it for herself. She must learn that allowing others to see your vulnerable side isn’t weakness, but makes you human. Bit by bit she permits her walls to crumble and bit by bit she builds up a new life for herself, one that connects with her past in meaningful, wonderful ways.
Jed, is her love interest. Although this book is most definitely focused on Tara and her development, we have a chance to meet Jed and share in his life too. Thank you Jessica for the extra juicy details on Jed’s life in Australia! He and Tara both suffered difficult, even traumatic pasts but find the strength to move on and have the goodness to help others in ways they cannot help themselves. Their relationship is charming and evolves from one of mistrust to true love.
Family is a central theme of this story. Both Jed and Tara have baggage where family is concerned. Tara has fully locked herself away from hers, for reasons you’ll have to read the book to uncover! It is a slow process where the author leaves us a trail of crumbs until we get the full story of why Tara removed herself from those who love her. After we unearth that backstory, we then journey with Tara as she finds her way back to those she loves. This was another area where Jessica outdid herself in the re-release. The scenes where Tara reconnects with her loved ones brought tears to my eyes. Where Tara’s family is difficult, Jed’s daughters and parents are hilarious! They add some much needed comic relief to blanace out the more emotional parts of the story.
There is one loose end concerning a member of Jed’s family… I love it. I think, given how this story was written and what it is about and the messages conveyed, that little part of the story ends just as it should. Perfect.
I could honestly write a few more paragraphs about why I loved this story, but I think I’ve given you a good idea. Christmas is definitely another theme and we ‘see’ Castle Street in all its bedazzled Christmas glory. If you’ve ever read one of Jessica’s Whistborough Bay Christmas stories, you’ll know what I mean. If you haven’t, make this year your first!
I’d give Starry Skies Over the Chocolate Pot 100 espresso shots if I could. The writing is mesmerising, the characters are enchanting and the descriptions sparkle. You need this book on your TBR. I certainly did.
About the Author
Jessica Redland is the author of nine novels, including The Secret to Happiness, which are all set around the fictional location of Whitsborough Bay. Inspired by her hometown of Scarborough she writes uplifting women’s fiction which has garnered many devoted fans.
Social Media Links
Twitter – https://twitter.com/JessicaRedland
Own website – https://www.jessicaredland.com/
Mailing list sign up – http://bit.ly/JessicaRedlandNewsletter
For more reviews and info on Starry Skies Over the Chocolate Pot, follow the blog tour.
Blog Tour organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.