Thursday, November 15, 2018

Review: "On Magnolia Lane" by Denise Hunter

Whenever I hear that Denise Hunter has a new novel releasing, my first thought is, "How quickly can I get my hands on it?" So of course when I heard about On Magnolia Lane, I had to read it!

From the bestselling author of The Convenient Groom (now a beloved Hallmark Original movie) comes the final book in Hunter’s Blue Ridge Romance series.

Pastor Jack McReady has secretly carried a torch for Daisy for two long years. She’s a member of his congregation, after all, and she’ll never see him as more than a trusted counselor. Jack’s best friend Noah has taken every opportunity to encourage his lovesick friend, but when Noah catches wind that Daisy has joined an online dating site, he takes matters into his own hands and orchestrates a meet-cute of the most unconventional kind.

Owner of the local flower shop, Daisy Pendleton is content with her small-town life, but she’d sure like someone to share it with. After several disastrous first dates, she’s about to give up—and then she finds a seemingly wonderful man online. Daisy gets to know TJ through a series of messages but finds herself spending more time with Pastor Jack outside of the church at the same time. What she doesn’t know is that her online prospect and Jack are one and the same.

Just as Daisy’s love life starts to look promising, a mysterious woman appears in town. Daisy is faced with a revelation about her family that turns her world upside down, and she looks to both TJ and Jack for help.

Jack must find a way to reveal himself as her online suitor without breaking her heart and losing her trust. As Daisy faces Jack’s betrayal, she’ll have to learn to extend grace to herself, her family, and the man she’s grown to love.

On Magnolia Lane is the story of Pastor Jack and Daisy, one of his parishioners. Jack has had feelings for Daisy for a long time, but several things have kept him from pursuing her: his lack of confidence regarding women, the fact that she's in his congregation, and their age difference (which is never actually stated but can't be more than 10 years), to name a few. But after he "meets" Daisy through an online dating app and she actually seems interested in his alter ego TJ, he begins to hope. (Hello, You've Got Mail!)

Besides her complicated feelings for both Pastor Jack and TJ, Daisy is also dealing with a rocky relationship with her mother, a mystery woman who calls into question everything Daisy believed about her childhood, and an upcoming benefit for an organization close to her heart.

I'll be honest: I actually cared more about the other things going on in Daisy's life than I did about her relationship with Jack. It's kind of funny, as Jack is wonderful ... but I really just didn't see Daisy and Jack together, even though I knew from the outset that was where the book was headed. I guess I felt the chemistry was lacking, and, while Jack's feelings for Daisy were perfectly clear, Daisy's feelings for Jack seemed to come out of nowhere (and she was just so dense when it came to seeing Jack's interest).

So, what did I like? I loved the subplot with Julia, the mysterious woman who arrived in town and upended Daisy's world. I really enjoyed the secondary romance between Daisy's mom and the bashful Mr. Francis. And I loved all of the bits of the story from Jack's point of view.

On Magnolia Lane is a good book, better than so many others I've read. I just didn't feel like it quite lived up to the standard of Hunter's other books. (It also really made me anxious to reread Seaside Letters, which has a similar You've Got Mail vibe. It was one of the first Hunter books I read, and I remember loving it.) 3-1/2 stars.

Buy the book.
Follow the blog tour.
Read my reviews of Hunter's Sweetbriar Cottage (3-1/2 stars), Blue Ridge Sunrise (4-1/2 stars), and Honeysuckle Dreams (5 stars); the Summer Harbor books Falling like Snowflakes (5 stars), The Goodbye Bride (5 stars), and Just a Kiss (5 stars); the Chapel Springs books Barefoot Summer (5 stars), A December Bride (4.5 stars), Dancing with Fireflies (5 stars), The Wishing Season (5 stars), and Married 'til Monday (4.5 stars); Big Sky novels A Cowboy's Touch, The Accidental Bride (3-1/2 stars), and The Trouble with Cowboys (4-1/2 stars); and The Convenient Groom (5 stars).

Denise Hunter is the award-winning author of more than 30 novels, including The Convenient Groom and A December Bride, which have been made into Hallmark movies.

Denise writes heartwarming, small-town romances. Her readers enjoy the vicarious thrill of falling in love and the promise of a happily-ever-after sigh as they savor the final pages of her books. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through TLC Book Tours. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed 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."


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