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The Enchanted Hacienda


The Enchanted Hacienda

Summer flowers are magical, and in THE ENCHANTED HACIENDA, J.C. Cervantes makes that idea a reality. The Estrada women have magic running through their veins, and it’s most apparent at their flower farm in Mexico, where they grow flowers that are "just" beautiful and ones that perform beautiful magic. Their gift originated with an Aztec goddess named Mayahuel, who promised that if they would carry out her legacy, each of their female descendants would be blessed with the power to "grow mystical flowers, create enchantments, and to forever protect love, passion, and beauty."

Each woman in the family is named after a flower: Camilla, Lantana, Rosa. All, that is, except Harlow. She’s also the only daughter not gifted with magic, which, it is assumed, is why Mayahuel didn't give her the name of a flower. When we meet Harlow, she’s being fired from her publishing job in New York City. Her boyfriend, Chad, is made partner at his law firm. That evening, while attending the celebration, she realizes that her life with him is a sham.

"There are twists, misunderstandings, enchanting scenes and enchantments, literally and figuratively --- magical flowers included."

Luckily, Harlow’s mother and aunt have requested that all the daughters come to the farm for a special occasion, so she gets on a plane and arrives early with a few hastily packed items of clothing. Cervantes describes the lush flower farm and the old Spanish hacienda, "a sweeping gated colonial estate tucked into a lush country hillside." Flowers grow everywhere, and Harlow provides us with information about every flower that she sees, including the dying lily in the office of the boss who fired her. (“Lilium, a flower with multiple meanings from beauty and birth to magnificence and majesty. But in this color, it can only mean dislike, hatred, revenge.”)

When Harlow stops to buy some flowers for Chad, which will serve as a message for him, she chooses sunflowers. She realizes that he won't understand their symbolism, which includes devotion, opportunity, ambition, happiness and good luck. Later, before the event at which she (deservedly) will throw a martini in his face, she remembers that Helianthus also stands for false appearances and unhappy love. She doesn't realize how appropriate those phrases are until the end of that night.

Once all the family is at the hacienda, Harlow’s mother and aunt tell them the real reason for the strange invitation. They are leaving for 10 days on a vacation together for the first time in decades. However, there must be a female descendant on the farm for the magic to work, so one of the sisters must stay in their absence. Harlow's siblings have important jobs, and she is recently unemployed, so she would seem to be the immediate choice. But the decision is left to magic. Each sister is given a petal to put under her pillow, and the one whose petal turns blue will stay. It’s no surprise that it’s Harlow who will be running the farm for a while.

The positive spin is that it will give Harlow time to work on a book she's been wanting to write. She loves books and reading, and her lifelong passion has been writing. Now she will have that opportunity, if she can just figure out what she wants to write. That first morning back in Mexico, she visits the local coffee shop in their charming pueblo and meets a tall, handsome man who asks for her help. There's just some connection, something special she feels about him.

From there, the story continues with Harlow finding her ability to write, solving what could have been a disaster while running the flower farm, helping a woman who was friends with her grandmother, Azalea, and finding a new life and beginning for herself. In this lovely novel, Harlow recognizes what she needs to make her life fully bloom --- and it isn't Chad or New York City. It's finding a place to write, enjoy life, smell the flowers and maybe discover her own magic. There are twists, misunderstandings, enchanting scenes and enchantments, literally and figuratively --- magical flowers included.

Reviewed by Pamela Kramer on May 19, 2023

The Enchanted Hacienda
by J.C. Cervantes

  • Publication Date: May 21, 2024
  • Genres: Fiction, Magical Realism
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Park Row
  • ISBN-10: 0778310434
  • ISBN-13: 9780778310433