Review

Wishing on Willows

by Katie Ganshert

Four years ago, Robin Price lost her husband Micah in an accident, before she had a chance to tell him she was pregnant. Now, Robin is the single mother of three-year-old Caleb and the owner of the Willow Tree café, which she and Micah had hoped to open together someday. She loves the café, despite the fact that the economy isn’t exactly booming, and neither is her business. When a developer comes to town, bent on convincing her to sell the Willow Tree so he can build condos in its place, Robin refuses. Giving up the café isn’t about letting go of the building. Robin is not ready to let go of the dream she shared with the husband she’s still grieving for.

The pressure is mounting for Ian McKay. The success of his father’s business depends on him landing this condo deal in Peaks, Iowa. At first, it seems like a piece of cake. Everything is going great, and each business owner is willing to sell. Except for Robin Price, owner of a small café that’s barely even surviving. Why is this woman so stubborn and unreasonable? And perhaps the more pressing question is why is Ian feeling himself being drawn to her anyway?

"WISHING ON WILLOWS is an excellent sophomore release from Katie Ganshert. There are a couple of characters with the potential of becoming the main subject in her next novel, should this turn into a three-book (or more) series."

Those who have read Katie Ganshert’s first novel, WILDFLOWERS FROM WINTER, will remember Robin Price as main character Bethany’s best friend. Chances are, ever since you finished that book, you’ve been eagerly awaiting Robin’s story. WISHING ON WILLOWS brings us that story, and it does not disappoint.

As in her debut, Ganshert has created characters who quickly weave their way into your heart. The motives of both Robin and Ian are understandable and realistic. However, also like the first book, I personally felt there were a few instances where the woman --- in this case Robin --- was a little too abrupt or irrational, and I felt a bit sorry for the male love interest (obviously Ian, here) who seemed to be trying, but whose efforts were continually shot down. Then again, the circumstances surrounding Robin’s motivations to keep her café may justify her seemingly unreasonable behavior.

Overall, though, the conflict between Robin and Ian only helped to sweeten the love story and allowed the themes to stand out even more. From the beginning, it’s no secret that Robin is still grieving over the loss of her husband. While this is certainly to be expected, even four years later --- especially since her son is a spitting image of Micah --- Robin is holding onto her late husband’s memory just a little too tightly. That is, tightly enough to prevent her from moving forward or allowing herself to even entertain the thought of falling in love again. Surrendering the past and, more importantly, the future and trusting God with her heart is the lesson Robin is resisting, but the one she most needs to grasp.

Ian is also dealing with issues of his own, including an ex-wife, the illness of a close family member, and pressure from his father to make this condo deal go through. Not to mention the irritating --- if flattering --- fact that several women in town are trying to get his attention, including Robin’s single sister-in-law, adding more conflict to the romantic mix.

There is no doubt that the most endearing character is three-year-old Caleb, who steals every scene. Ganshert does a fantastic job of creating chuckle-worthy phrases and situations that add flavor and up the amusement factor a few notches.

WISHING ON WILLOWS is an excellent sophomore release from Katie Ganshert. There are a couple of characters with the potential of becoming the main subject in her next novel, should this turn into a three-book (or more) series. If you’re like me, after reading the first two, you’ll look forward to seeing more from this talented author.

Reviewed by Lynda Lee Schab on June 14, 2013

Wishing on Willows
by Katie Ganshert