I can’t remember where I heard about this one, but I recall thinking it sounded decent and had some fantastical elements to the plot, so it would likely be the type of adult trade fiction book I might enjoy.
Willa (great character name; also the name of my cousin’s terrier) grew up in a small town in the southern US where she now runs an outdoor sporting goods store with a coffee shop in it. When the story begins, Willa is avoiding an invitation to an event in the newly restored Blue Ridge Madam, one of the oldest buildings in the town and the former home of Willa’s ancestors. Restoration of the Madam was spear-headed by Paxton, a high school classmate of Willa’s. Paxton’s family bought the Madam and are turning it into an Inn. Paxton’s and Willa’s grandmothers were close friends as girls, but drifted apart as adults. When an old secret is dug up during the restoration, Paxton has a bit of a breakdown and ends up finding a friend in Willa. Don’t worry, they both have love interests too. Each of Allen‘s characters end up learning to accept themselves for who they are, and by doing so, they also learn to accept each others’ friendship. Awww.
Allen kept me reading with her subplot of the mystery secret that’s dug up at the Blue Ridge Madam. There’s something a bit magical going on, and I liked that element of the story. I liked how Allen portrayed it, too — it wasn’t clear to the characters whether there really WAS magic, but there was something going on, and I liked how it contributed to wrapping up the plot. I also liked how she wrote the romances between Willa and her love interest and Paxton and her love interest. Definitely kept me reading to see what happened.
If this book was a person I knew who was walking down the street towards me, I’d probably give them a non-committal (but not wimpy) high-five and keep on walking.