Sunday, November 9, 2014

Review of "The Wishing Season"

Rating: 4 Stars

Review:  Denise Hunter has kept readers ingrained in the lives of the McKinley family in her "Chapel Hill Romance" series.  "The Wishing Season" puts the spotlight on PJ, the youngest McKinley. True to the tone set by the previous novels, Hunter again delivers a story balanced with emotional complexity, love, and romance.  Although this can be read as a stand alone novel, the connection to the tight-knit McKinley family is definitely stronger after reading the preceding novels. 

PJ and Cole are thrown together in a sequence of events that leaves them sharing a house while competing for ownership of the property.  They each believe that the house is the answer to their aspirations -PJ hopes to open a restaurant and inn, while Cole wants to open a home for teens aging out of foster care.  Competition, attraction, and romantic tension weave their way throughout the plot. Some scenes will leave readers breathless; but while clean, the physical element of Cole and PJ's attraction is strong at times for my personal reading preferences.    

Romance aside, the relationship between PJ and Cole reveals a deeper message about the growth and realization of dreams.  Both of their stories, though very different, have touching and relatable elements.  Once again, the McKinley family dynamic shines with lovable realism.  As the youngest child, PJ feels overprotected and doubted by her family.  I enjoyed the journey of the McKinley family and the strengthening of their already strong bond.  Cole's past as a foster child is a stark contrast to PJ's secure upbringing.  He brings depth to the plot with memories of his childhood and the lives of the teens he fosters.  Heartbreak is very much a part of Cole's story, but healing leaves readers with a sense of hope and satisfaction. 

PJ and Cole join the ranks of happy McKinley couples, who I hope will reappear in a cameo role in another novel.  Denise Hunter leaves the door open for another "Chapel Hill Romance" with references to Ryan McKinley.  I definitely feel that Ryan's story deserves to be told and I finish "The Wishing Season" wishing to read more about him. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers through Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Summary from Thomas Nelson: Living side-by-side, a fledgling chef and a big-hearted contractor find a delicious attraction.  Trouble is, their chemistry could spoil their dreams.

Spirited PJ McKinley has the touch when it comes to food. Her dream of opening her own restaurant is just one building short of reality. So when a Chapel Springs resident offers her beloved ancestral home to the applicant with the best plan for the house, PJ believes it’s a contest she was meant to win.
Contractor Cole Evans is confident, professional, and swoon-worthy—but this former foster kid knows his life could have turned out very differently. When Cole discovers the contest, he believes his home for foster kids in transition has found its saving grace. All he has to do is convince the owner that an out-of-towner with a not-for-profit enterprise is good for the community.
But when the eccentric philanthropist sees PJ and Cole’s proposals, she makes an unexpected decision: the pair will share the house for a year to show what their ideas are made of. Now, with Cole and the foster kids upstairs and PJ and the restaurant below, day-to-day life has turned into out-and-out competition—with some seriously flirtatious hallway encounters on the side. Turns out in this competition, it’s not just the house on the line, it’s their hearts.

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