‘Wildflower Season’ Sets the Stage for Michelle Major’s Spin-Off of Her ‘Magnolia Sisters’ Series
In Michelle Major’s Wildflower Season, a spin-off of her Magnolia Sisters series, Emma Cantrell lands in Magnolia, North Carolina hoping for a fresh start after a nasty divorce and hoping to cut the strings attached to her overbearing mother. She buys an old mansion that’s seen better days, now dealing with damage from the storm that recently ravaged Magnolia. Her vision is to open an inn; however, financially cut off by her mother and having lost all her money in the divorce, Emma is hoping for divine intervention – which indeed shows up in the form of the crying Holly, one night at a bar.
Holly’s getting married to Brett Carmichael, a senator from Massachusetts, but her future mother-in-law is putting her through hell and making the event impossible. Aside from looking down on Holly, who works as a nail tech and possesses no college degree, she blames her for ruining the wedding – it was Holly who insisted they hold it in Magnolia before the storm destroyed her chosen venue and everything encompassing the wedding: dress, invitations, decorations, etc., the owners taking her money and running for the hills. That night at the bar, Emma’s struck with an idea, offering to host Holly’s wedding at the still-under construction inn. The lavish wedding of a U.S. senator is sure to attract attention and clientele.
Holly immediately accepts. Suddenly needing to repair the inn in double time, she suggests Emma seek the help of the best person for the job: her brother-in-law, Cameron, a reclusive man, who doesn’t even own a cellphone and who’s shut the world out – a form of self-punishment after the death of his wife, Holly’s sister, Dana, for which he blames himself.
At first, there is friction between the no-BS, cynical Emma, who is in desperate need of a win, and the strange, monosyllabic woodsman, who is at first reluctant to help but can’t refuse his sister-in-law a favor. The friction remains superficial, as deep down Emma and Cam are deeply attracted to each other. In spite of their deeply rooted trust issues, their attraction gives way and Emma and Cam end up entangled in what they both expect to be a fleeting affair, lasting only until Cam is finished fixing the inn.
Emma assembles an entire team of women who help bring her vision of The Wildflower Inn to life – women from Magnolia, all with their own stories, who are hoping to watch their own hopes and dreams bloom: Mariella who knows all about weddings, having run a wedding gown boutique back in New York; Angi, who dreams of attaining freedom from her family’s restaurant and start a catering business of her own, and Holly, who is Emma’s ticket to starting off business on the right foot.
As the inn slowly comes together, Emma and Cam’s feelings for each other deepen but neither is willing to take that first step. First, they must face their demons and overcome the trauma of their pasts in order to be able to see what the present has given them and create the happiness they both dream of.
Though labeled as a romance, Major’s is a novel deeply embedded in the many layers that fabricate life. Emma moves to Magnolia seeking a better situation and the people she meets there, though dealing with their own problems, are always warm and ready to lend a helping hand. In Magnolia, Emma finds a nest of warm souls, a quiet place to call home, and the self-fulfillment she’s been craving for herself.
Major has a great talent for pacing as she takes her time building the tension between Emma and Cam, bringing their relationship into a credible, even-paced crescendo, as both face their fears, slowly helping each other step out of their comfort zones, opening up and allowing themselves to be vulnerable with each other.
In the meantime, the reader can clearly see as Major cleverly sets the stage for future sequels, providing us with small insights into the conflicts that tie all the characters together within the small town of Magnolia.
Wildflower Season is a gentle story about growing past the hurt that life sometimes hands us. It’s a lighthearted tale of resilience, about being able to live in the moment and letting go of the past. It’s also about the simplicity of small-town life and the feeling of community that comes with that.