Review: The Magnolia Sisters by Alys Murray

50355327. sy475 Harper Anderson has a to-do list longer than the Colorado river, and fields of tulips to tend to at her family’s flower farm in Hillsboro County, California. It’s her dream to run the business with her sisters when their father retires, keeping up traditions that began with her great-great-grandmother.

That is, if there’s a farm left to run. Rich out-of-towners looking for a slice of country living are hiking up the prices in town and it’s putting her family out of business. So she has no time for the arrogant LA tech mogul who makes her an offer to use their farm as his sister’s wedding venue. No amount of money could make up for the destruction it would wreak on next season’s crop. The sooner Luke Martin is on his way, the better.

But Luke isn’t willing to go. He’s been looking out for his sister ever since their deadbeat parents left them to fend for themselves, and he’ll do whatever it takes to make her happy. So when Harper’s newest farmhand leaves her in the lurch, he sees an opportunity to strike a deal. He’ll work on the farm for free if she’ll give him the chance to change her mind.

Harper and Luke each expect the other to crack first. What they don’t expect is the chemistry that sparks between them as they work side by side among the budding roses. But Luke’s presence is turning over more than the earth, and just as Harper is starting to let her guard down, he stumbles upon a secret that could spell disaster for the entire Anderson clan.

Review. Text on the string. Conceptual 3d image

Source: NetGalley and Bookouture          Rating: 4/5 stars

The Anderson sisters have been tied to their family farm since birth.  They are as close to one another as they are to their parents.  The sisters delight in the work they do, and each brings her own unique skill set to their work.  Harper is the tender of the fields and flowers, while her sisters run a flower shop and gift shop in town.  The Anderson sisters work hard and sleep well each night knowing they are bringing light and beauty into the world through their efforts and hard work.

Unfortunately, the hard work isn’t quite paying the bills the same way it used to, and the family farm is in something of a financial mess.  Of the three sisters, Harper is taking the news the hardest and desperately looking for income outlets that she hasn’t previously found.  Her farm and her flowers are everything and saving them is of the utmost importance.

As Harper is trying to suss out new sources of income, Luke Martin is in town to help his sister pull together the perfect wedding.  Since he was a teenager, Luke has looked after his younger sister.  Though she is now a successful adult in her own right, Luke is still entwined in her life and constantly on the lookout for things that will make her happy or her life a bit easier.  When his sister discovers the Andersons’ field of flowers, she has to have it for her wedding no matter the cost. Harper and Luke are like oil and water from the moment they meet.  Harper sees Luke as entitled and selfish while Luke sees Harper as entrancing, exhilarating, exciting, and exhausting woman he has ever met.  Hell is going to freeze over before Harper is going to subject her fields of flowers to a wedding, and Luke has got to come up with a plan to change Harper’s mind.  Unfortunately, the only plan Luke can come up with is going to work for the farm and having Harper as his boss. 

Hours into his new job, Luke is in pain – new boots! – but has no intention of giving up or giving in to Harper’s heinous to-do list.  If he’s going to help his sister, he’ll have to tough it out no matter what.  As his second day on the farm dawns, Luke is in even more pain, but Harper doesn’t seem to be quite so spicy.  In fact, from time to time, Harper even seems to be nice.  As the days pass and Harper and Luke get to know one another, their relationship deepens into something neither expected.  What’s more, Luke’s sister has become a huge part of the Anderson clan, a great and unexpected surprise to all.

As Harper and Luke are seemingly growing closer by the day, each is grateful for the budding relationship, but also wary.  Harper has, historically, not been the dating or getting attached type and Luke has a bit of a secret he doesn’t quite know how to break to Harper.  It she can’t get over his issues and his secret comes out in the wrong way, the blossoming relationship is going with wither and die before it ever really has a chance to grow. WOW!!  Did you see all those flower-related words in there? 😊

The Bottom Line:  I’m a bit disappointed in the Goodreads star rating for this book.  I feel like The Magnolia Sisters is something of an underrated little gem.  I found all the characters to be quite likeable and easy to root for, the setting to be lush and beautifully described, and the story itself to be entertaining with just the right amount of drama, not too much and not too little.  The author’s writing style is smooth and easy and with two more sisters, there is the promise of more books to come.  I’m totally on board with that plan, especially if Luke, Harper, and Luke’s wonderfully delightful sister make guest appearances.

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