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…
As soon as I’d had said a goodbye to Carly, Liam and all of the other wonderful characters throughout Christmas At Carly’s Cupcakes, I returned immediately, now with our leading lady, Tara. Tara is the owner of the Chocolate Pot Cafe, a place in which everyone feels loved and glowing – plus, she serves the most delicious of chocolatey treats, including my most favourite, brownies!
We got a little of Tara’s story in Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes, developing an understanding that Tara was quite a closed off and private woman, only discussing what she wanted to and that never ended up being much. When diving in to this book, I was so excited and nervous about digging deeper in to Tara’s past and I was right to feel those emotions, because the flashbacks that Jessica provided me with, were devastating, to say the least. Despite how much Tara’s life seems to be thriving from the outside, the inside is a much different story, filled with loneliness, a whole lot of pain, lack of trust, and a giant house bunny called Hercules for company. Tara has never let anyone dig deeper than the surface when it comes to her story and with the loneliness weighing her down, she decides that it’s now the time to release the burden of her secrets from her shoulders and let her friends in to her life, completely.
I really loved this book – Tara’s story had so much depth to it and was heart-breaking to say the least. Her past hung so heavily over her head and on her shoulders, never allowing herself to see what the future could hold and provide for her. She is an extremely loveable character that I wanted to hug oh so tightly and tell her that everything was going to be okay, that life had so much in store for her that was going to change her life for the better. The community really tugged at my heart strings as well, as Tara slowly revealed her story and them immediately finding ways to show her that that part of her life, doesn’t need to define her. The entire community that Jessica has created are just absolutely darling and I sat in dreamland after finishing these books, wishing I could transport myself there.
I really adored the blossoming friendship/romance between Tara and Jed – after a rocky start all those years ago, the two finally reunited and were able to hash out the misunderstandings and start afresh. Jed was a really lovely character and had come back in to Tara’s life just when she needed it. With him having a not so easy life himself, he was extremely understanding when Tara found herself holding back a lot, as he was in the same position on whether or not he wanted to reveal his own troubles. There wasn’t anything Jed wouldn’t do to help Tara move forward with her life and all of the little sentimental moments he created for her were just so heart-warming and brought a big smile to my face. One of my favourite book romances of this year!
I thought I would quickly also just mention that I especially enjoyed getting a glimpse in to what life had in store for Carly and Liam, since I last read about them. Their story was only growing bigger and I felt giddy with excitement at the event they had ahead of them. It was so delightful to be back in such a heart-warming, cosy place, filled with festivities, brownies and hot chocolate, with a dash of romance for my favourite leading lady of this year. I need to immediately make a start on the rest of the Whitsborough Bay series and learn about the rest of the characters that I was lucky to get a glimpse of within Carly and Tara’s stories!
P.S. Stay tuned for one last feature from Jessica on the blog this year, tomorrow, as we dive in to an exciting author interview! We’ll see you there!