Title: The Wishing Tree
Author: RJ Scott
Publisher: Love Lane Books
Length: 175 Pages
Category: Holiday Romance
Rating: 4 Stars
At a Glance: The Wishing Tree is every bit as heartwarming and blissful as I anticipated it would be, offset by just a bit of conflict to keep my softer emotions firmly in check.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: It takes an impossible Christmas wish for Bailey to find forever love with his brother’s best friend.
Turning twenty-five and still a virgin, Bailey has barely dated, let alone acted on the private fantasies featuring his brother’s best friend, newly retired hockey star, Kai. All he wants is for Kai to love him, but after a summer when Kai’s anger drove them apart, love doesn’t seem possible at all.
When Kai goes home to Wishing Tree, he knows he owes everyone an apology, not least of all to the man he loves. He’s convinced he can be the man that Bailey deserves, and he needs to show Bailey how much he’s changed.
The only problem? Bailey has secrets that he’s scared will drive Kai away, and Kai is running out of time to convince Bailey that falling in love starts with a wish and can end up in forever.
Review: I’ve been reading RJ Scott’s Holiday Romances since 2010, when I picked up a short novel called The Christmas Throwaway and fell in love with a subgenre specifically meant to shamelessly play me like a fiddle. I’ve been indulging every year since. The author’s ode to love in the midst of the Christmas spirit this year is The Wishing Tree, and it’s every bit as heartwarming and blissful as I anticipated it would be, offset by just a bit of conflict to keep my softer emotions firmly in check.
Wishing Tree, Vermont, is the sort of town that comes alive during the holidays. Between the annual Christmas parade, the artisan booths, the ice skating, and the influx of tourists, the locals are kept busy and the spirit of the season thrives. It’s the wishing tree itself, though, that not only gives the town its name but gives it that extra special something which serves as the jumping-off point for Bailey Haynes and Kai Buchanan’s love story—a love story that would still be ten years in the making.
Bailey is fifteen-years-old, sweet and vulnerable and introverted, and is working up the courage to tell his family he’s gay when the book begins. He’s standing at the wishing tree, ready to pin his hopes and dreams to its branches, and rehearsing what he’s going to say to his family while feeling no small amount of anxiety over it. But the first time Kai speaks those words—and more about himself that he holds close—aloud to someone, is to Kai, Bailey’s older brother Lucas’s best friend, the guy Bailey is truly, madly, deeply, and secretly in love with, who’s there to make a wish of his own. Scott captures the moment with the perfect amount of tension and tenderness. It’s a scene fraught with emotion and a prevailing sense of Bailey’s embarrassment for simply being who he is, and I loved him immediately.
Tragically, Bailey’s moment of confession doesn’t end well, and he is left heartbroken when Kai not only doesn’t reciprocate Bailey’s feelings but leaves Wishing Tree altogether to pursue fame and fortune as a professional hockey player. Fast forward a decade, during which time Kai realizes he’s fallen irrevocably in love with Bailey, and there is damage to be undone. Kai has made some mistakes for which he must apologize, but not only to Bailey. Kai also needs to make amends with his father and sister. Kai’s earnestness and glaringly obvious love for Bailey are impossible to miss, let alone resist, though Bailey does try his best.
RJ Scott rolls out the welcome mat to all the warm feelings as readers watch Kai advance and Bailey parry. And it doesn’t hurt that their blended family (one of Bailey’s brothers is married to Kai’s sister) is firmly on the side of hoping the guys work things out. There were some sweet and funny moments between the family members that added to the warmth of the story. Everyone was on Team KaileyTM, including me, right there to love and support them unconditionally.
For those completionists out there who love to see the happier after the happily ever after, there’s a link to a free short story at the end of the book that invites readers to attend Bailey and Kai’s wedding. It was a lovely way to heighten the joy of an already joyful romance.
You can buy The Wishing Tree here:
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