• Becca McCulloch

Review: Christmas at the Chocolate Pot Cafe

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?


It’s been quite the year of trauma-laden Christmas stories. This one follows Tara through two Christmases as she learns to trust those around her and give life a try despite a mountain of betrayal. 

As far as trauma narratives go, this is one of the better ones. Tara is doing her best to function despite her fears. She’s surrounded herself by a life that feels comfortable and real. Yes, to most people, it’s a little empty, but she’s happy with her shrunken world. But as her cafe grows, so does Tara’s need to live, live and participate in the grander world. Telling her story helps her to come to terms with the past and try to imagine a life that contains more than a house rabbit and a business. 

This is largely a story of backstory. The mystery behind Tara’s trauma is trickled through the narrative. The pacing was a little erratic and the reasons for cutting the sharing of the story felt contrived at times. The interwoven narrative of Tara’s past was the main driver of the story so I sometimes skimmed the real world elements. I was happy that Tara found herself a place in the world and opened up her heart to the world. She’s definitely earned the right to a happier ending than those dealt out by trauma. 

Purchase Links

UK  - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Christmas-Chocolate-Pot-Caf%C3%A9-Castle-ebook/dp/B07KDT15YP

US - https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Chocolate-Pot-Caf%C3%A9-Castle-ebook/dp/B07KDT15YP

Author Bio –

Jessica had never considered writing as a career until a former manager kept telling her that her business reports read more like stories and she should write a book. She loved writing but had no plot ideas. Then something happened to her that prompted the premise for her debut novel, Searching for Steven. She put fingers to keyboard and soon realised she had a trilogy and a novella.

She lives on the stunning North Yorkshire Coast — the inspiration for the settings in her books — with her husband, daughter, cat, Sprocker Spaniel, and an ever-growing collection of collectible teddy bears. Although if the dog has her way, the collection will be reduced to a pile of stuffing and chewed limbs!

Her passion for North Yorkshire is shared by fellow-writer and great friend, Sharon Booth and, together, they are the Yorkshire Rose Writers.

Jessica tries to balance her time — often unsuccessfully — between being an HR tutor, trying to re-learn how to play the piano, studying towards a Masters in Creative Writing, and writing itself. Who needs sleep?

Social Media Links –

Twitter:   @JessicaRedland

Facebook:                          https://www.facebook.com/JessicaRedlandWriter/

Website and blog:     http://www.jessicaredland.com

#womensfiction #holiday

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