The Enchanted Hacienda
by J.C. Cervantes
Publisher: Park Row
Release Date: May 16, 2023
Reviewed by PJ
When there’s magic all around you, the possibilities are endless…
When Harlow Estrada is abruptly fired from her dream job and her boyfriend proves to be a jerk, her world turns upside down. She flees New York City to the one place she can always call home—the enchanted Hacienda Estrada.
The Estrada family farm in Mexico houses an abundance of charmed flowers cultivated by Harlow’s mother, sisters, aunt, and cousins. By harnessing the magic in these flowers, they can heal hearts, erase memories, interpret dreams—but not Harlow. So when her mother and aunt give her a special task involving the family’s magic, she panics. How can she rise to the occasion when she is magicless? But maybe it’s not magic she’s missing, but belief in herself. When she finally embraces her unique gifts and opens her heart to a handsome stranger, she discovers she’s far more powerful than she imagined.
With unforeseen twists, romance, and a heavy sprinkle of magic, The Enchanted Hacienda is a captivating coming-of-age debut exploring identity, unconditional family love, and uncovering the magic within us all.
This story is, in a word, enchanting. Other words also come to mind: immersive, uplifting, magical, welcoming, all-encompassing, romantic, transformative. I lost myself completely in these characters and their story, especially Harlow. I'm firmly convinced the Hacienda Estrada is in full bloom south of the border. J.C. Cervantes brought it, and her characters, vividly to life with exquisitely detailed descriptions that encouraged layers of visceral feelings within me to the surface. This was not just a reading; it was an experience.
Reading this coming-of-age story also brought home the fact that there is no age limit to people discovering, exploring and accepting their individual truths. I loved watching the gradual flowering of Harlow, nurtured by the unconditional love and support of her family and best friend, as she slowly opened her heart to love and herself to unanticipated possibilities. It was joyous, empowering, and not without pain along the way. But as the goddess whispers to Harlow in her darkest hour, "There is magic in heartbreak. Because every transformation begins here." The transformation of Harlow, of Ben, and of their love was one that broke my heart before putting the pieces back together, stronger than before. The romance is strong in this book, intertwining with Harlow's individual growth to achieve a satisfying balance between one person's coming-of-age journey and one couple's journey to a hard-won happily ever after.
There is also magic in the words of Cervantes. Every word, every thought, every touch is well thought out and essential to the overall story as well as the evolution of its characters. Each character, whether primary or secondary, has a vital role to play in Harlow's awakening. Each one stirred something elemental within me. I could write at least three more paragraphs about the impact of these characters on Harlow's life - and on me - but that is something that should be experienced first hand by each reader.
This book is Cervantes' adult fiction debut, one that has landed her solidly on my must-buy list. I don't know if there are more Estrada family books planned but I really hope that there are. I'm nowhere close to being ready to say good-bye to this family or to the other Estrada women begging for their stories to be told.
I've read The Enchanted Hacienda twice. I loved it the first time through. I loved it even more the second. I am confident that I will return to it again and again, whenever I need a comforting reminder to believe in myself, in love, and in the magic that surrounds us all...if only we believe.
This one has my enthusiastic recommendation. It's one of my favorite books I've read so far this year and has earned a place on my Best of 2023 watch list.
Do you enjoy magical elements in the books you read?
Have you watched the movie, Encanto? This book mirrors the joy, warmth, and complexity that touched my soul while watching that film. Many times. ;-)
Each of the women in the Estrada family has a magical power that is tied closely to a flower. What magical power would you choose to have, if any, and what flower would you want it to be tied to?
One randomly chosen person posting a comment before 11:00 PM, May 18 will receive a hardback copy of The Enchanted Hacienda.
*Must be 18
Many thanks to Park Row Books for their generous donation of today's giveaway.
Yes I enjoy fantasy.. I've not seen the movie though. I can't imagine a better power than being able to heal and I love lillies.ReplyDelete
The movie is a Disney family-friendly musical with all new songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. My six-year-old niece and I love it equally. :)Delete
I stopped and ordered this book from my library before I even finished reading the setup...this book sounds FANTASTIC and perfect for me! I love when a book incorporates magical elements and that fact that it mirrors Encanto, I know I will love this book. Thank you for always bringing a diverse mix of reads to us!ReplyDelete
I'm so excited for you! I really hope you fall in love with it as much as I did.Delete
This novel sounds captivating and unforgettable. What a wonderful treasure to enjoy. I will be watching this movie. I enjoy magical elements in books since they add so much to the pleasure to the story. My power would be to instill kindness and understanding and the flower would be the Iris.ReplyDelete
I hope you enjoy both the book and the movie (different stories - same magical vibe).Delete
This book does remind me of Encanto, and I loved that movie. Magic adds a little bit of fun to a story.ReplyDelete
If I could have a magical power, it would be one of transportation like in Star Trek. Beam me up, Scotty! Wouldn't it be great to stand in your living room and then magically appear in Paris? I would choose a rose for my magic.
The Enchanted Hacienda would be memorable and it would weave a spell throughout my reading. A magical power of great strength and stamina would be so helpful. My flower is the tulip.ReplyDelete
Oh my goodness but that was a persuasive review, PJ! I don't think I've seen Encanto, but as I believe magic is all around us, just beyond the veil, I love it in books. The idea of a magical power being tied to a flower is intriguing and not one my mind wraps easily around. I'm eager to see how the author presents it.ReplyDelete
This sounds wonderful! Great review, PJ. I loved Encanto and I enjoy magical elements in fiction, so I’ll definitely be checking this one out!ReplyDelete
Thank you for the review and recommendation. This sounds like a wonderful book. My daughter and granddaughter insisted I watch ENCANTO one time when I was visiting. It was delightful and I really would like to watch it again. As with reading a book, second and third reads/watches bring out things you missed the first time through. The first time I hear of this book it reminded me of the movie. This book is going on my wish list.ReplyDelete
I think a touch of magic adds a nice element to a story. There is magic in the world if we look for it and believe.
I would like the power to heal. Roses and lavender are considered healing flowers so I would like one or both to be my flower..
I love magical elements in the books I read. I also loved Encanto! I would have to pick roses for my flower and my power would be healing. Great review! Sounds like my kind of read.ReplyDelete
I adore Encanto! I really enjoy magical elements as well! I have a hard time deciding between being able to control time or being able to teleport. So maybe be able to do both? There's not much more beautiful than a field of wildflowers which makes it difficult to chose a single flower - which probably means my magic would be pretty chaotic.ReplyDelete