This week’s Wednesday Reads is by my favorite traditionally published Christian romance author, Denise Hunter. Her books were some of the first ones that I read when I discovered that Christian fiction was a thing ten years ago. (I know. I’m late to the game.) I appreciate how she writes real characters with normal life issues and that she brings faith and redemption into each and every story.
I think this one was one of her best.
On Magnolia Lane is part of a series, and I, of course, started with the last book. (What? I don’t know how I always end up doing this, y’all. I can’t read numbers when I’m browsing on Amazon, I guess.) No problem, though, because I didn’t need to read the other two books to pick right up with the setting, characters, and plot of this one. And the plot was something totally original, which is what pulled me in initially. Jack, a small town pastor, has developed feelings for Daisy, one of the young women in his congregation. They both run in the same social circles and have lots of mutual friends, but she sees him as just her pastor. His friends, knowing that he’s too shy to make a move and pursue Daisy on his own, set up an account for him on the same dating website that Daisy has been using. Jack in appalled, but before he can shut down the account, Daisy has sent him a message through the site, not knowing that it’s him that she’s just messaged. You can imagine what happens from that point on, I’m sure. While that alone would be enough to keep my interest, Hunter does what she does best, creating other conflicts and story arcs in her book, making each character more dimensional and relatable as the main plotline drives the pace of the book, building up to that one, sweet, perfect moment I’d been waiting for from the very beginning. Sigh.
I love, love, love how realistically Hunter has portrayed the life of a pastor. Poor Jack can’t even get a cup of coffee at the local shop without talking to half the town, and his days in his office attempting to write sermons are full of all kinds of administrative hiccups and pastoral challenges. There’s a scene where Daisy comes to his house in a panic over a crisis in her personal life, and Jack chats with her on his porch while his nosy neighbor watches them like a hawk, prompting Daisy to comment about how he lives his life under constant scrutiny. I love how Hunter wrote this part honestly and how she made Jack appreciative of his role and his calling despite the scrutiny. He was a relatable and genuine character (as was Daisy) which made the story and the very sweet happily ever after even better.
Put this one on your reading list!