Friday, December 5, 2014

Review: The Wishing Season by Denise Hunter

Book Cover and 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.

My source for book: Review Copy
My Thoughts:
I really liked PJ and her extremely talkative personality. I couldn't help but grin at some of her rambling speeches which were most prevalent when she got nervous. Considering her profession as a chef, I really appreciated that she didn't seem uppity about her tastes or knowledge, and the dishes she prepared, though fancy, weren't things I'd never heard of. Usually when chefs are in novels I find there is too much fancy terminology used, but that was not the case with PJ at all. She is very down-to-earth and easy to relate to, despite having refined tastes.

I also really liked Cole, and I felt so bad for the things he went through as a child. At the same time, I also sort of wanted to slap some sense into him and tell him that the things he blamed himself for weren't valid... BUT, nevertheless I did still like him. The work he did with the older foster kids was awesome, and it serves to shine a light on an important issue that is often overlooked or forgotten.

The book title and cover design initially gave me the impression that it would be a Christmas or winter centered story, but that's not really the case. The story covers the span of about one year, so while winter is included, it plays no larger part than any other season. The story is appropriate to read at any time of the year, so don't let the cute snowy cover image hold you back. 

Something I thought was unique was how one of the major relationship conflicts was resolved in an untraditional manner, with a third party getting involved to try to fix the issues. Often times novels with a large romantic element seem very cookie-cutter in their flow, but this angle brought a unique feel to the resolution of the story that I really liked.

Denise Hunter certainly doesn't shy away from the hard issues, but I really admire how she weaves everything together. The inclusion of difficult and touchy topics gives a very realistic atmosphere, while the grace with which they're handled keeps things from feeling overly gritty. Her characters are flawed with past mistakes--some larger than others--that makes them very easy to relate to and sympathize with. Though "The Wishing Season" doesn't top the previous Chapel Springs book (Dancing With Fireflies, which is one of my all-time favorite novels), it's still a very solid story with a good message and high entertainment value. I can easily recommend it if you are looking for a good read!

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Thanks to the publisher (Thomas Nelson) for providing me with a review copy via NetGalley.


  1. Glad you liked this one, Valerie; it's my second favorite next to Barefoot Summer and now with the synopsis and cover reveal for book four, I'm anxious to get my hands on that pretty too! :)

  2. Dancing with Fireflies is one of my favorites, too ... and I also wanted to slap some sense into Cole from time to time. Glad you enjoyed this one!