I received an ARC of The Secret Ingredient of Wishes as a courtesy from Netgalley and Thomas Dunne Books.
26-year-old Rachel Monroe has spent her whole life trying to keep a very unusual secret: she can make wishes come true. And sometimes the consequences are disastrous. So when Rachel accidentally grants an outlandish wish for the first time in years, she decides it’s time to leave her hometown—and her past—behind for good.
Rachel isn’t on the road long before she runs out of gas in a town that’s not on her map: Nowhere, North Carolina—also known as the town of “Lost and Found.” In Nowhere, Rachel is taken in by a spit-fire old woman, Catch, who possesses a strange gift of her own: she can bind secrets by baking them into pies. Rachel also meets Catch’s neighbor, Ashe, a Southern gentleman with a complicated past, who makes her want to believe in happily-ever-after for the first time in her life.
As she settles into the small town, Rachel hopes her own secrets will stay hidden, but wishes start piling up everywhere Rachel goes. When the consequences threaten to ruin everything she’s begun to build in Nowhere, Rachel must come to terms with who she is and what she can do, or risk losing the people she’s starting to love—and her chance at happiness—all over again.
The Secret Ingredient of Wishes had all of the ingredients I love in a book – familiar settings, sweet romance, food and a little bit of magic. Unfortunately, it really just didn’t click for me, and the ending left me with a sour aftertaste, much like the plums in this book.
The food in this book made me hungry, even though I had just eaten dinner when I started reading it. The descriptions of the pies that Catch made were absolutely mouthwatering, and while I was raised to be a North Carolinian, pork vinegar-based barbecue still makes me a little bit sick to my stomach. I’m with Rachel and going for the brisket!
I wish that a lot of the elements in The Secret Ingredient of Wishes had been explored more, especially the magic. Half of the town of Nowhere, NC – which reminded me remarkably of the college town I lived in for four years of Cullowhee – had some sort of magical ability, but there was never any discussion of how the abilities worked, or where they came from. Rachel had no clue how to control hers, and she never did learn how to.
The storyline about Mary Beth and her sister really came out of nowhere for me, and didn’t really cause any conflict in the Secret Ingredient of Wishes, so it felt shoved into the novel. My largest issue was that the ending was incredibly abrupt. I kept clicking the next button trying to continue, but there was nothing there, which left me more than a little upset.
I think this book had good elements, but I never fell in love with it, unfortunately, so I can only rate it three stars. It released on September 6, so if it sounds like something you’d enjoy, go grab a copy from your local bookstore or Indiebound!
“I’m not one of those writers who’s been scribbling down stories since I could hold a pencil. I didn’t read constantly growing up (blasphemy, I know!), and I can still be found in public without a book tucked into my purse (again with the blasphemy!).
I am, however, the kind of writer who lives for the imaginative spark that introduces me to a new character or story idea that pushes me to turn everyday life into something magical. I have a B.F.A. in creative writing from The University of North Carolina – Wilmington. I live and write near Wilmington, NC with my husband, Mark, and our two literary-named cats.
Aside from writing, I obsess over swoony fictional boys and baked goods and watch quirky TV shows, most of which got canceled way before their time (and I have a wax lion to prove it!).”