Christmas at the Chocolate Pot Cafe by Jessica Redland

A few minutes of courage might change your life…

Emotionally, Tara Porter finds the festive period a challenge. Christmas Day is a reminder of the family she lost, and New Year’s Eve holds bitter memories of the biggest mistake of her life: marrying Garth Tewkesbury. Shunning invitations to celebrate, she seeks refuge in her flat with only her giant house bunny, Hercules, for company.

Professionally, though, it’s the best time of year. Tara’s thriving café, The Chocolate Pot, is always packed. With the café hosting a wedding and engagement party, it’s shaping up to be the café’s best Christmas ever.

When former nemesis, Jed Ferguson, threatens the future of The Chocolate Pot, Tara prepares for a fight. The café is everything to her and she’s not going to let anyone or anything jeopardise that. 

Tara badly misjudged ex-husband Garth and, since then, has refused to let anyone in. After all, if you don’t let them in, they can’t hurt you. But has she misjudged Jed too? Is it possible that he’s not the arrogant, deceitful man from whom she bought the café 14 years earlier? Can she find the courage to find out for sure?

I really enjoyed Jessica Redlands’s 2017 Christmas books, Charlee and the Chocolate Shop and Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes, so it was a delight to be back on Castle Street in the seaside town of Whitsborough Bay for another festive season.
Tara has appeared briefly in the previous Christmas on Castle Street books, so it was interesting to learn more about her. And, my word, what a story she has to tell!
With a past full of loss, betrayal, grief, anger and deep sadness, there’s a lot more to Tara than I ever imagined. She’s certainly seen more than her fair share of heartbreak, and it’s no wonder that she no longer lets anyone into her life, preferring to keep other people at arm’s length.
Tara’s life revolves around her successful business, the gloriously named Chocolate Pot Café, and around her housemate, Hercules the giant house rabbit. Yes, you read that right. When I was little, we had a giant rabbit and he was adorable, so I could well picture Hercules, and I loved that Tara shared her home with him. She certainly needed someone to talk to and confide in!
Don’t think, though, that this book is all angst and hand-wringing, because it’s not. Far from it. There’s plenty of the warmth and humour that have become Jessica Redland’s trademark. Tara goes on a journey of discovery that is uplifting and joyful to see, and she’s supported along the way by a whole host of characters that are all too ready to welcome her into their lives, if she’ll only have the courage to let them in.
There is a gentle romance simmering in the background, but this story is about far more than that. This is a story of a woman who has been let down, deceived, and has suffered terrible loss, learning to open her heart again and trust in people. A perfect story for this special time of year.
A truly heartwarming and deliciously festive trip back to Castle Street. I hope we’ll be invited back again next Christmas!

Callie’s Christmas Wish by Jessica Redland

Christmas is approaching and love is in the air at Bay View Care Home. Supervising carer, Callie Derbyshire, is blissfully happy with new boyfriend, Rhys. The tree’s up, the lights are twinkling, and, with the Christmas Eve wedding of one of the residents, Iris, to look forward to, everything is perfect.

Well, almost. 

Rhys’s ex has him at her beck and call, yet refuses to let Callie meet their baby daughter. Callie’s ex is intent on stirring up trouble. And Callie’s favourite resident, Rhys’s nanna, Ruby, hasn’t been her usual self since Iris announced her engagement.

Convinced that Ruby’s lonely, especially after discovering the truth about her lost love, Callie’s determined to give Ruby’s romantic story the happy ending it deserves. Ruby might be adamant that the past should be left in the past. But, when it comes to true love, surely a little well-meaning meddling and a Christmas wish or two can’t do any harm. After all, it’s never to late to let love in again. Or is it?

A heartwarming Christmas story of finding new love, and the courage to revisit a love that was lost long ago.

 

Callie’s Christmas Wish follows on from the Whitsborough Bay novella, Raving about Rhys, and follows the fortunes of Callie Derbyshire, a care assistant at the Bay View Care Home, and her boyfriend, the lovely Rhys.
In the novella, the couple finally got together and were all set for a happy ending. But of course, things don’t always go so smoothly, and this story shows the fallout when both partners come with emotional baggage.
Callie is still being plagued by her horrendous ex, Tony, and poor Rhys is at the beck and call of the mother of his daughter, who rings him at all hours to tell him she needs him NOW, causing Rhys to drop everything and rush off to help. Callie wouldn’t mind if the calls were genuine, but Rhys’s ex-girlfriend is the woman who cried wolf, and she seems determined to ensure that Callie and Rhys don’t get a moment together.
At Bay View, meanwhile, Callie is kept busy helping with wedding preparations for resident Iris and her fiance, who are tying the knot on Christmas Eve. Iris’s best friend, Ruby, seems surprisingly subdued about the wedding plans, and Callie discovers a secret that Ruby has nursed for a great many years – a secret that also affects Rhys, since Ruby is his grandmother.
Callie, being the kind-hearted and romantic soul that she is, sets out to heal Ruby’s heart, despite facing opposition from Rhys, his father, and from Ruby herself.
Can she give Ruby the happy ending she deserves? And will Callie’s own Christmas wish finally come true?
Read this book and find out! It’s such a delightful, heartwarming story that you won’t be able to stop reading it once you start. Callie is a lovely character, so full of good intentions that she sometimes blunders in, but far too nice for anyone to stay cross with her. And Rhys, of course, is just as gorgeous as he was in the first book. The perfect match for Callie.
Ruby’s story is a wonderful thread, and I desperately wanted to know what her secret was and, once I discovered it, I wanted – almost as much as Callie does – for her to get her happy-ever-after.
With plot twists and subplots and a whole array of fascinating secondary characters – some nice, some not-so-nice – this is another fabulous story by the talented Jessica Redland. You know, when you pick up one of her novels, that you’re in for a treat and this one is no exception. It’s festive, but can easily be read at any time of year, so whenever you’re reading this, don’t hesitate. Sit back and enjoy another outing to wonderful Whitsborough Bay.

Bear With Me by Jessica Redland

Sometimes love finds us when we least expect it. But sometimes love leaves us, just as unexpectedly.

Everything changes for Jemma on the weekend of her 28th birthday. An unexpected proposal from boyfriend, Scott, is overshadowed by her mum’s diagnosis with a life-changing condition. After the weekend, she needs Scott’s support more than ever. So why isn’t he returning her calls?

Everything was meant to be changing for Sam that same weekend. He should have been walking down the aisle with Nikki. But she’s not around anymore and Sam’s struggling to face the future. Did he do the right thing by moving to London to escape the memories of their life together?

When they’ve loved and lost, can they bear to let love in again?

Bear With Me, and all will be revealed …

Bear With Me takes us back to the familiar setting of Whitsborough Bay – the location of Jessica Redland’s previous books. However, this time, we meet a whole host of new characters.

Jemma thinks she’s found her happy-ever-after with Scott, but just days after receiving a proposal of marriage from him, something changes. Why isn’t he answering her calls?

Julie has been a wonderful single mother to Jemma and Sean, but lately she’s been behaving strangely, and her happy home, Bear’s Pad, is becoming a place of tension. What’s happening to her?

Sam’s future looked bright. He had a promising career and he’d found the woman of his dreams. Now he’s in a strange city, far from everyone he loves, and his life is in tatters. What went wrong?

This is a gorgeous story of love, faith, and new beginnings. Told with the author’s characteristic warmth and humour, it drew me in from the first few pages, as I got to know the main characters at crucial points in their lives. As the novel progressed, I found myself enthralled by the twists and turns in their stories – and boy, there were plenty of them! The author really puts her poor protagonists through the mill.

After suffering so badly, it’s not surprising that Sam and Jemma find they have lots in common, and can understand what the other has been through, and before long a warm friendship blossoms, but Jessica Redland shows how emotional wounds can make moving on a real challenge, and explores the courage it takes to let go of the past and start again.

There is a lovely supporting cast in this novel, including some walk-on parts by characters from the author’s Whitsborough Bay trilogy, which will delight fans of those books. The writer’s gift for creating appealing and relatable characters will, I’m certain, win her a whole host of new fans.

Bear With Me is a real page-turner that made me desperate to find out what would happen next, yet reluctant to reach the end and leave Sam and Jemma behind. Funny, intriguing and thought-provoking, Bear With Me is a genuine five-star book, and I’m eager to find out what’s next from Jessica Redland. 5/5

You can buy Bear With Me here.