book, Book Review

The Wishing Season by Denise Hunter

About the Book:Book - The Wishing Season
Author: Denise Hunter
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Source: Publisher ARC via NetGalley
Publication Date: 2014
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Series: Chapel Springs, book 3
Genre: Fiction; Contemporary Romance, Christian
Rating: 5 out of 5

Review: Reading the first book in this series, Barefoot Summer was a kind of magic even this addict of contemporary fiction hadn’t experienced in quite some time. It wasn’t *just* the delights of the setting or the character quirks, it was a deeper, more meaningful chord it struck in me. That moment ensured this series climbed quickly to the top of my favorites list, which is why despite some minor disappointment in the following novel, I was anxious to have the chance to read any ensuing books in the series. Before the first chapter was gone, I already knew this book was a rare keeper. The story is about PJ McKinley and newcomer Cole Evans. Both of them have dreams that involve the Wishing House, which they place separate bids on and since the owner of the house cannot decide between PJ’s well thought-out plan to open a restaurant (her dream) or Cole’s plan to use the house as a home for foster kids transitioning between high school and whatever’s next, the pair of them are asked to share the space for a matter of months while the owner makes a decision. As two very different people are forced to share the house, they come to realize that there is more to the other person than first impressions would suggest.

What this novel has is a great hook. Sure the dueling couple is something that’s been done, but the opening – how Denise introduces the characters, is priceless and gets the laughter started in no time. It sets up a lighter scene before the heavier topics come into play as these two different people open their minds (and hearts) to getting to know each other without blinders on. Cole’s past is an interesting one and I admired him as a hero greatly. True he is a fictional character, but his ability to make something out of a past that people often let keep them below their potential was inspiring and it’s part of the reason Cole made my list of memorable heroes. He’s compassionate and now successful because of his past, rather than someone who uses that past as a means of excuse for getting handed passes in life.

Catching up with the McKinley family feels like our own family gatherings, as if a piece of their fiction is really our reality when we are in our crowded kitchens at holidays with family and friends and it’s a delight anytime we are invited back to experience that. PJ has been a sassy spitfire as a side character in her sister’s stories and again she proves to be a fun-loving character that rises to the level of leading lady in this romantic-comedy. Anyone who hasn’t read the first two books in this series would be fine to read The Wishing Season although I would encourage you to read these if you like familial series, everything has more meaning for those of us who’ve been with these characters from the beginning. Perfect for any season, this is a sweet winter read that should be put on your Christmas lists – and if Santa doesn’t heed that list then take matters into your own hands: buy a copy of this novel. It’s a dream and a wish come true in one beautiful little package.

Synopsis: She daydreams of whipping up sauces and souffles in her own restaurant. His heart is set on helping foster children. Both dreams are at stake. So are their hearts.

With grand plans to open her own bed & breakfast in Chapel Springs, PJ McKinley can’t afford the most crucial part: the brick and mortar. But when the owner of a local historic home announces a contest and promises her property to the worthiest candidate, PJ makes a fervent wish and tosses her name into the hat.

Cole Evans is cool, confident, and successful, but he’ll never forget his roots. He’s thankful for how far he’s come and knows his life could have turned out drastically different. If he can win the stately old mansion, he’ll turn it into a home for children aging out of the foster system.

When the eccentric house owner narrows the entries down to only two applicants, she extends the contest, giving PJ and Cole one year to prove which one of them can make the best use of her beloved home. As the pair competes in close proximity, something deeper than rivalry sparks between PJ and Cole. And in this battle, they’re likely to lose their hearts. – Goodreads

Coming Next from Denise Hunter:  With a big anniversary party in the works for her parents, Ryan will pretend to be Abby’s husband for just one last weekend.

Ryan McKinley has tried to move on from his ex-wife, Abby. He’s sulked, he’s gotten angry, and ultimately he bought her dream house. Big mistake. Living alone in the massive 2-story has only made him miss her more. When her parents call him out of the blue about their anniversary party in Summer Harbor, Maine, Ryan believes God has dropped a golden opportunity straight in his lap.

Abby McKinley never exactly told her parents about the divorce. A strained relationship with her dad has culminated in a distant relationship with her parents, but she’s finally succumbed to her mom’s pressure to make the drive for their 35th-anniversary party.

Then Ryan shows up on her doorstep, looking as devastatingly handsome as ever. When he insists he’s going to Seabrook, with or without her, Abby knows she can’t say no. Her parents still think they’re married and now Ryan knows it too. Besides, he only wants to check in with his best friend from college—her cousin Beau, who just lost his dad. It’s just a one-week road-trip with the man who broke her heart. What could possibly go wrong? – Goodreads

Sincere thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary e-ARC copy of this book for reviewing purposes.

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