Book Review: Wildflowers from Winter by Katie Ganshert

A young architect at a prestigious Chicago firm, Bethany Quinn has built a life far removed from her trailer park teen years. Until an interruption from her estranged mother reveals that tragedy has struck in her hometown and a reluctant Bethany is called back to rural Iowa. Determined to pay her respects while avoiding any emotional entanglements, she vows not to stay long. But the unexpected inheritance of farmland and a startling turn of events in Chicago forces Bethany to come up with a new plan.

Handsome farmhand Evan Price has taken care of the Quinn farm for years. So when Bethany is left the land, he must fight her decisions to realize his dreams. But even as he disagrees with Bethany’s vision, Evan feels drawn to her and the pain she keeps so carefully locked away. 

For Bethany, making peace with her past and the God of her childhood doesn’t seem like the path to freedom. Is letting go the only way to new life, love and a peace she’s not even sure exists?

Bethany Quinn [which is also the name of the daughter of one of my dear friends from high school – I found it slightly distracting though it’s unlikely many others would] returns home after twin tragedies force her hand. One hit after another comes in the form of job problems, relationship issues, death and disease, and any number of other things. Feeling beaten down, she wants to run, but is forced to stay and deal with it all.

Including Evan.

Her grandfather’s right hand man on his farm and the brother-in-law of Bethany’s best friend. Will Bethany be able to put the past behind her? Will Evan be able to break down her walls? Particularly those related to Christianity?

This is Ganshert’s debut novel. It’s well written and well plotted. I’d heard wonderful things about it, which is why I requested it to review. As much as I wanted to love it as much as the others I’d heard talking about it, I just didn’t.

Ganshert did a good job with her settings. I felt like I was in rural Iowa, small town USA. I could see the farm and the town, including the cafe. I loved the cafe. She also did a great job of making me feel like I was in Chicago for the brief time Bethany was there. Not that I’ve ever been [I live in slightly bigger than small town USA so that helps], but I could still see it in my mind’s eye.

For some reason – nothing I could put my finger on, mind you – I had a hard time connecting with the main characters, particularly the heroine. I liked Evan better, but still didn’t connect with him very well.

There were a couple of things left either unresolved or unexplained that sort of bugged me – like exactly what happened with the pastor – Ganshert hinted at it and I could make some assumptions, but if she came right out and said, I missed it.

I liked the book, but, as much as I wanted to, I didn’t love it. I will be picking up Ganshert’s next release. It’s the story of the heroine’s best friend and the character I most connected with.

Overall rating: 7 out of 10 stars

Thanks to Waterbook/Multnomah and Blogging for Books for a free review copy of this book. This is my honest opinion.