This story surprised me. Based on the cover and blurb, I expected a fun rom-com full of fall vibes 🧡. A story set during pumpkin season, about a woman whose long-time crush is now the attorney representing her ex-fiancé in their fight over the engagement ring? Sign me up! As it turns out, it’s also a story about empowerment, healing from childhood bullying, and dysfunctional family dynamics. Clearly, this story was much more than I’d expected 😄.
Josie Peterson is an elementary school teacher who’s been hiding from her long-time crush Reece Cavanaugh for fifteen years. She was humiliated in high school when a love story she wrote in her journal about Reece and herself was made public. Not only was she distraught about her secret being exposed, but she was bullied about it as well. Since then, she’s been avoiding Reece around town by hiding behind display stands or whatever she can. You know, like a mature adult 😆. Even worse, everyone in town has read the story, so fifteen years later she hasn’t been able to get past the humiliation.
Reece is a successful attorney facing his own set of problems. His ex-wife isn’t involved in their young daughter’s life. Therefore, Reece is taking care of his daughter, Andi, with the help of his mom. He lost an eye when he was young, and his father has been absent from his life since then. Obviously, he knows a thing or two about being strong when faced with difficult situations.
Josie comes from a large close-knit family, and her best friend is her cousin Jenna. They’ve both grown up at the family pumpkin farm. Peterson’s Pumpkin Patch is a family affair, and they all work together to make pumpkin season the best each year. You’d think that coming from a close-knit family would’ve helped Josie heal and overcome the humiliation from high school. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Their behavior and reaction about the high school incident has carried on throughout the years and it’s something they must all have to face now.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this story. Josie and Reece are likable and well-developed characters. I also enjoyed the small-town community, growth the characters experienced, and focus on family. Of course, the visits to the pumpkin patch were a bonus!
This is my second book by Jennifer Peel, and I’m looking forward to reading more from her. I read The Holiday Ex-Files last year, and enjoyed that story too. Cami is the main character in that story, and she’s a part of this story too. I always find it fun to catch up with characters from other books. This book has a companion book, Pumpkin Spice and Not So Nice, so I’m off to read that one soon 😊.
Have you been pleasantly surprised by a book recently?