The January Wish by Juliet Madison

In brief: Dr Sylvia Greene is a controlled, organised person. But when she makes a wish at a festival, her life changes uncontrollably.

The good: A beautiful story with great characters and a simply gorgeous ending.

The not-so-good: It ended!

Why I chose it: Loved Juliet’s ro-magic comedies.

Year: 2014

Pages: 225

Publisher: Escape Publishing

Setting: Small coastal town, Australia

My rating: 9.5 out of 10

I’ve really enjoyed the previous ro-magic novellas by Juliet Madison (I Dream of Johnny
and Starstruck in Seattle), so I was super excited to see she had a new novel out this month. What’s even better is that it’s the first in a series, linked by place – Tarrin’s Bay. Tarrin’s Bay is a (sadly, fictional) small town by the ocean – just big enough to have some wonderful cafes and residents who don’t know all of the neighbours’ dirty secrets. It sounds like a wonderful place to holiday and unwind with the local markets and festivals.

It’s at one of these festivals where Dr Sylvia Greene makes a wish at the wishing well. Why? Sylvia’s not exactly sure herself. Sylvia’s an exceptionally organised person – she has a strict shopping list and never does anything out of routine. She even co-ordinates schedules with her surgeon boyfriend Richard before they decide on a time to go on a date. Then everything begins to change…Sylvia’s daughter (the result of a teenage pregnancy) arrives in Tarrin’s Bay. A naturopath takes the office next door to her. Suddenly, Sylvia’s world begins to be disordered and spontaneous…and she could just like it!

This is a lovely story, as it revolves around a number of easy to like characters, all with their unique backstory that adds to the narrative. While I’ve mainly mentioned Sylvia above, there’s a lot of time spent following Grace (her daughter) and Mark, the naturopath and herbalist. All the characters interact to form a lovely community feel. (Is Tarrin’s Bay full of such lovely people? I’m sure we’ll get to know about more of them as time moves on). I particularly liked the juxtaposition between Sylvia, a general practitioner with a staunch disbelief in anything not proven by a randomised clinical trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine and Mark. Mark, the son of a pharmacist who completed one year of a pharmacy degree has branched out into natural medicine. His beliefs are in naturopathy and natural medicine. It’s a ginormous leap for Sylvia to even spend a moment with someone so diametrically opposed to her professional beliefs, but Mark is a generous man who accepts that all aspects of medicine will never agree. I didn’t feel the natural medicine aspect was pushed to the exclusion of other forms, which is not an easy thing to accomplish.

While there is romance (multiple!) in this story, I didn’t feel that it was the major plotline. I feel this is a story about people, their lives – good and bad. The storyline of Sylvia and Grace meeting each other, then trying to see how they fit in each other’s lives was well plotted and the ending…well, I had tears in my eyes. It was just perfect – a reader couldn’t wish for a better ending. The loose ends were tied up just the way you want them – this type of Happily Ever After (HEA) should be patented! This is my favourite Juliet Madison novel yet and I highly recommend it if you are looking for a sweet, character driven story.

Fortunately, there is a new Tarrin’s Bay story out next month – February Or Forever. I can’t wait to read this one!

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