The Wish by Eden Winters
Alex Martin is arrogant, wealthy, spoiled, and lonely. His never-ending stream of lovers sees only his wallet. Hiding behind a mask of aloof indifference, he really wants someone who can see past the money, someone who’ll stand up to him as an equal.
Down-to-earth bookstore owner Paul Sinclair insists on making his own way in life. He longs for someone who thinks, works, and doesn’t ask for hand outs: a true partner in every sense of the word.
After years of avoidance they finally meet, and neither is impressed. Though worlds apart they share a common bond: their uncles, Alfred and Byron, are long-term partners. And when the uncles conspire to match-make, a little thing like Byron’s being a ghost isn’t going to stop them.
[I get what they’re trying to do with the cover in showing an important painting but the cover is ugly. I can see what the artist was trying for but the border doesn’t convey the gilt border of a painting and this is just… ugly. So sad since the book is very nice.]
This is an example of a book that is a little stereotypical, a little bland and predictable in some places, yet can come together with a gentle plot and deliver a lovely, touching story. A deeply romantic tale of two couples, one at the end of their lives and the other just beginning, filled with humor, tragedy, whimsy, and warmth. The story takes known themes and still manages to give something unique and poignant. While The Wish may not be lauded as the best book of the year, it is one that thoroughly satisfies and easily could become a beloved favorite. This particular offering moves beyond its stumbles to offer something heart warming.
Alfred Anderson has called his two nephews home for the funeral of his long time companion Byron. Paul is Byron’s nephew and Alex is Alfred’s nephew and the two men couldn’t be more different. Byron’s last wish was for Alfred to help Paul and Alex find love and happiness together. But the clock is ticking against Alfred’s failing health and the touchy pasts of both young men. A delightful cast of characters, including Byron as a meddling ghost, all scheme to get to the opposites to attract.
The plot revolves around Alex and Paul as they deal with the repercussions of Byron’s death and Alfred’s failing health. Both young men must come to terms with their own emotional scars and past baggage while finding something unique and unexpected in each other. The story moves gently through a whole range of emotions. There are sad and touching moments that may threaten tears, yet the story intersperses enough touches of humor and fun to keep the tone light despite a few intense scenes. The older, incredibly wealthy couple manage to show the opposing sides of wealth and responsibility while never feeling too cliché or boring. Instead their long time love is warm and touching and well portrayed with a light hand.
The characters are interesting but especially Alex and Paul tend to be exaggerated. Paul is a saint with endless patience, refuses to take any of his uncle’s money for anything, lives to serve others, and is selfless to a fault. Paul is definitely too good to be true and lacks any real definition that would separate him from the stereotype. He’s not a bad character and matches with the more interesting and flawed Alex well, but Paul is a little bland and predictable. However, Alex is the opposite as a wealthy young man that feels entitled to his money and casual, empty lifestyle while hiding the emotional scars from a loveless, unhappy childhood and rejecting the love from his uncles due to his problems. Alex is definitely more interesting and complicated as he slowly understands the ramifications of his actions. He begins to realize that his empty life has robbed him of happy memories and opportunities and his transformation is one of acceptance.
I wish Alex had realized the deeper reasons for some of his actions, such as his initial suspicion of Paul as a gold digger and later as his uncle’s lover. Both of these are pretty ridiculous ideas and there is more than ample evidence against these charges yet Alex persists on holding onto them for longer than necessary. This no doubt is meant to keep the tension and low level conflict going but neither is really based in any kind of reality. Eventually Alex realizes he’s wrong only due to Paul being a saint instead of realizing these ideas were just a method of avoiding the painful situation and his own emotions. So while these issues are pretty classic, they are not altogether well handled. However these issues are minor in the face of a lovely story and charming characters. The supporting cast of the friends, staff, and even Byron’s ghost add a fun and entertaining element while able to show Alfred and Byron’s deep love for each other.
Overall I was delightfully surprised at the warm, gentle treatment of such a topic. The story is touching, moving, whimsical, and humorous with just the right touch. As a new to me author, I’d be interested to see what else she has to offer. I can easily recommend The Wish as a heart warming and uplifting story that will touch you (in all the good places).
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