I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for Christmas on Castle Street with two reviews — Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes and Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café, both by Jessica Redland and organised by Rachel’s Random Resources
Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes
Carly Travis owns and runs a successful cake shop, Carly’s Cupcakes, in Whitsborough Bay. Following a very traumatic incident in her previous job, Carly’s sister Bethany has been left with low self esteem and rather more than a tendency to be accident prone. Trying to help Bethany, Carly has given her a job and, although Bethany is great with the customers, she’s a disaster in the kitchen. In the lead up to Christmas, Carly could do without the extra work, and the time it took making good on Bethany’s mistakes and cleaning up after her, but she would never say so.
I closed my eyes for a moment in the desperate hope that, when I opened them, I’d discover I’d been hallucinating and Bethany hadn’t really managed to cover the table, walls and floor in globs of red butter icing. Or — far worse — the sixty cupcakes I’d already decorated for tomorrow night’s Christmas lights switch-on.
Carly loves being part of Castle Street’s little community, with its independent shops and businesses, the traders friendly and willing to help out when necessary — as Carly finds out when she talks to Tara about her feelings for her best friend, Liam.
Carly and Liam have been best friends since they were eleven. Targeted and abused by bullies at school because of their looks, they stuck together and their friendship grew ever stronger. Should Carly risk her the close friendship she and Liam share or tell him how she really feels and hope he feels the same?
Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes is a lovely read set in a pretty village with wonderful characters, brought to life with descriptive writing. The story also deals with darker issues, such as the aforementioned bullying and the lasting effects of trauma.
About the Book
It’s December on Castle Street; the fairy lights are twinkling, snow has settled and the festive season is in full swing.
For Carly, the owner of Carly’s Cupcakes, it’s the busiest time of year getting everyone’s Christmas treats ready on time. However with her clumsy sister, Bethany, as a co-worker, it’s proving a difficult task. They say you shouldn’t mix work with family. Maybe they have a point…
As Christmas approaches, Carly is also eagerly awaiting the return of her best friend to Whitborough Bay. Liam has no idea he’s been the object of her affection since their schooldays. After years of pining after him, can Carly pluck up the courage to finally tell him how she really feels by 25th December?
Could a little festive magic make all of Carly’s wishes come true this Christmas…?
A heartwarming, short festive story of friendship and family from bestseller Jessica Redland. You can find out what happens to Carly next through exploring her best friend Tara’s story in Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café.
This is a new and updated version of Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes which has been previously published.
Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3e5pUMP
Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café
The story continues with Tara, owner of The Chocolate Pot café, who has a terribly sad back story and as a consequence is very wary of letting people get close or know more about her than is necessary. There’s much more to Tara than meets the eye but she keeps her past — the deception, heartbreak and loss — firmly to herself. Not that she minds helping other people with their problems, her kindness is evident.
Tara’s life has been the café and her giant house bunny, Hercules. She and Carly have become quite close lately and Tara finds herself opening up and talking more to Carly about her life before she came to Whitsborough Bay, and as more is revealed we get a sense of the real Tara and understand why she lives as she does.
As the years passed and my life changed beyond all recognition, I still tried to be Pollyanna every day. I tried so hard to keep my promise to Dad. I believed that ‘the black cloak’ would lift from Mum like it had done on The Best Day Ever. I believed that I’d leave foster care one day and be reunited with Mum again. And I believed that all my foster families genuinely cared about me and had my best interests at heart, especially my foster sister Leanne. But it turns out that not all people are good, they don’t tell the truth, and they don’t care who they hurt or how they do it.
There’s no doubt that Tara’s past has scarred her and impacted on her life, but with a little help and a sympathetic listener she tentatively begins to hope she can turn her life around. She just has to work up the courage to engage with people and realise not everyone will deceive or let her down.
I love the image of Castle Street, the setting is wonderful — that and the characterisations make this a perfectly delightful story. Tara is a great example of someone who is basically strong enough to have made the life she has but overlaid with fear of being hurt. Her character develops steadily throughout as she builds relationships and connects with two people from her past.
There’s humour to offset the darker elements, plus friendship, community and family in both books. Very enjoyable.
About the Book
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.