Say You’ll Stay
by Susan Mallery
Release Date: July 1, 2021
Publisher: HQN Books
Book #0.5 in the Wishing Tree series
Number of pages: 126
Ages 14 and up
Some heartbreaks hit harder than others. For Shaye Harper, the last one was so bad she swore off men for good. Wishing Tree, Washington, was supposed to be a pit stop on the road to a fresh start, but Shaye is swiftly drawn in by the quirky small town’s celebrations—and a handsome stranger she can’t resist.
After deployments around the world, army vet Lawson Easley knows there’s no place better than his hometown. And he’s determined to stay right here, forever. Too bad the first woman who feels like “the one” is just passing through. The more time he spends with Shaye, the more he knows that she’s the piece his heart’s been missing.
Swept up by the joyful summer festivities and Lawson’s obvious affection, Shaye starts to feel she belongs. Here, with him. She never meant to end up in Wishing Tree. Then again, she never meant to fall in love…
I actually read the first book in this series, The Christmas Wedding Guest, before I knew about this novella. I fell in love with the town of Wishing Tree and decided I had really wanted to visit with the residents again. The majority of this story takes place during the town’s Christmas in July celebration. While this celebration is a lot of fun, it was nowhere near the extravaganza we saw at Christmas.
Shaye happens to be passing through town during the kickoff fun run for the town’s July festivities and Lawson is instantly drawn to her. They make small talk which leads to lunch which leads to a stroll around town. There is a definite connection between the two, but Shaye is on her way to starting a new life elsewhere. With no firm date to be to her destination, can she stick around for a bit and just enjoy making some new friends in this quirky town?
This is a really sweet introduction to the Wishing Tree series. The characters are extremely lovable and had me rooting for them to find their happiness. I did find the building chemistry lost a lot of momentum when the author had days pass without showing the reader the interactions but, instead, telling us about them in a kind of offhand manner. In fact, there is mention of them kissing and it says it wasn’t the first time. How did the author not tell us about their first time kissing? That doesn’t make sense to me in a romance novel, no matter the length. Not when you’re telling us about other kisses. Still, for the most part this is a lovely story and I’m still really enamored with this town.
Great review! I really find it frustrating when authors don’t bother to show us those important interactions between the H and h. No first kiss??!!! What an error by the author. I find it often follows that the author tells us they have fallen in love rather than showing us that they have.