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.