Title: The Wish
Author: Eden Winters
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: m/m Contemporary paranormal romance
Length: 153 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
A guest review by Jenre
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 picked up this novel from TQ because I’d read and enjoyed Eden’s sip The Pirate’s Gamble (reviewed here) and I wanted to read more from what I felt was a promising new author. The Wish turned out to be a delightful story filled with a mix of humour, drama and pathos.
I’ve tentatively labelled this story as a paranormal although I’m not sure whether that is the correct label really. The story contains a ghost – and a rather meddling ghost at that – but couldn’t possibly be called a horror story as Byron has more in common with Caspar the friendly ghost than he does with Poltergeist! In fact it is Bryon who is the focus of a great deal of humour in the book and rather ironically counterbalances the grief the other characters feel about his death.
The book begins with Byron’s funeral. His lover of thirty years, Alfred, mourns deeply for his death. In a cruel twist of fate their May to December relationship was ended when the younger Byron was taken by cancer in his 50s, leaving the older Alfred, now in his 70s, to cope with a cold, empty life without his lover. His only consolation is that a heart condition may lead to him following Byron soon. It’s a sad opening to the book and one which I found quite heartbreaking, as I felt sorrow for Alfred in his grief. Before Byron died he asked Alfred if he would do everything in his power to bring together the two men that both Alfred and Byron hold dear to their hearts – their respective nephews Alex and Paul – and Alfred promises himself that he will do all that he can to uphold Byron’s last wish. The story then follows Alfred, his butler Bernard, and the ghostly Byron as they attempt to get these two seemingly different men to realise how perfect they really are for each other.
Out of the two men, Paul and Alex, Alex is definitely the more interesting of the pair. As Alfred’s nephew he comes from a rich and powerful family. When his mother died, he was taken in by his grandparents and treated to their ‘hands off’ approach to parenting causing him to be starved of love and affection. The only loving relationship he’s ever known is from his uncle and Byron, who, due to his grandparents disapproval of Alfred’s ‘lifestyle’, he was allowed to see in the holidays only. This led to Alex being emotionally shuttered and he lives his life through a series of meaningless encounters. Money and influence opens doors for him so he has never had to work for anything in his life and as a result he takes pleasure in being cruel and callous – as we are shown when we first meet him in a scene where he deliberately comes between two lovers. Be warned, Alex is not a particularly nice or likeable person at the beginning of the book. Under the cynical and shallow exterior though Alex does have a caring heart and the main thrust of the character development with Alex during the book is seeing that cold exterior gradually broken down by Alfred and, later, Paul. This has to be one of the most interesting and ultimately satisfying parts of the book, especially when the assumptions that Alex makes about Paul based on his own experiences with hangers-on and sycophants are proved to be false and he realises that it is safe to open your heart to people.
Compared to Alex, Paul comes across as rather saintly. He is Byron’s nephew and entitled to just as much financial support as Alex. However, He turns down all the offers of money and help from Alfred and Byron in favour of building his life and business by the sweat of his own brow. When Byron is ill he immediately comes and stays with them to be a help and support. After Byron’s death he stays with Alfred to be a loving relative in which to share the burden of grief. When Alex sees how close Alfred and Paul are, he immediately jumps to the conclusion that Paul has jumped into Alfred’s bed in order to gain a ‘Sugar Daddy’, a premise which would be laughable in the extreme were it not for the fact that it shows just how suspicious and cold-hearted Alex is. I liked that the initial antagonism between Paul and Alex turns into a grudging acceptance of their better qualities and finally love, as they realise what Alfred and Byron had always seen, that their personalities complemented each other.
At its heart this book is about the end of one relationship and the beginning of a new one. Those of you who do not like death, or grief or suffering in their books will probably find this book difficult to read at times. There are some scenes which are definitely designed to tug on the heartstrings and I found my eyes filling with tears on a few occasions. I did find though that this was ultimately an uplifting novel about the eternal nature of love and I finished the book feeling a little emotionally wrung out but happy nonetheless.
I’ve only dwelt on a few things which struck me about this book but there were plenty of other great things I could have written about such as the way that family and friendship is explored; and the theme of money and duty verses following your heart. Eden Winters is a new author and as a result some of the writing is a little clumsy in places – something I’m sure that will be smoothed out as the author develops her writing skills – but that was the only negative point in what was an poignant and moving novel.
Overall, I would highly recommend The Wish for those readers who are looking for a book which takes you on an emotional journey with two older and two younger men.