August 1, 2013

Ian McKay

Hi again! Joy here. So, I have a confession to make. I don’t read contemporary fiction very much. I know, I know- I’m sure there is an untold wealth of stories I have missed because of this fact. I am a ravenous reader, but I’m also a selective, quirky kind of reader. I’m a historical fiction, historical romance, and…fantasy? kind of girl. Did she just say fantasy? As in swords, and time travel, and spaceships, and dragons? Yes, that’s right. When I escape reality- I REALLY escape. (Sister Gretchen, can I get an Amen? =D )Hmmm. Something’s up with that. Anyway- back to my original confession. My former boss (owner of the local Christian bookstore), handed me Wishing on Willows and said “This looks like a Joy book.” I kind of laughed, took the offered novel, and agreed to read it and let him know what I thought.

Which leads me to confession number two: I loved this book. Almost from Ian’s first appearance on page 14, I knew he was going to end up in the spotlight on FHF. Because there is no escaping the fact that, contemporary fiction or not, Ian McKay is a bona-fide hero. In fact, the sigh of “happy ending” contentment had barely escaped my lips before I was clicking (as in, “What’s-wrong-with-this-button-I-only-clicked-eleventy-one times-and- it- isn’t-working!” clicking) the hero nomination button. And here we are! Yay! I ask only that the regular contemporary fiction readers to hold back the “I told you so’s” long enough to allow me to (most humbly) introduce Ian McKay.

About Wishing on Willows (released March 19, 2013):

Does a second chance at life and love always involve surrender?

A three-year old son, a struggling café, and fading memories are all Robin Price has left of her late husband. As the proud owner of Willow Tree Café in small town Peaks, Iowa,  she pours her heart into every muffin she bakes and espresso she pulls, thankful for the sense of purpose and community the work provides.
So when developer Ian McKay shows up in Peaks with plans to build condos where her café and a vital town ministry are located, she isn’t about to let go without a fight.

As stubborn as he is handsome, Ian won’t give up easily. His family’s business depends on his success in Peaks. But as Ian pushes to seal the deal, he wonders if he has met his match. Robin’s gracious spirit threatens to undo his resolve, especially when he discovers the beautiful widow harbors a grief that resonates with his own.

With polarized opinions forming all over town, business becomes unavoidably personal and Robin and Ian must decide whether to cling to the familiar or surrender their plans to the God of Second Chances.


Excerpt from Wishing on Willows:

       “I’ll be right back with one last cup of coffee.” Robin curled her finger under the handles of the mugs and turned around. And in the turning, he saw her.
       His eyes widened. Because Robin, the café owner, was…Janet, the frazzled, pretty woman who almost ran him over outside Sybil’s. She stopped, the smile on her face slowly melting away. Ian crossed his ankle over his knee and waved. She turned around, the porcelain mugs clinking together as she hurried to the counter. Now this was an interesting turn of events. Why would this woman tell him her name was Janet?
       She dropped the refills off with Carl and Mimi and approached his table, her steps slow and uncertain. “May I help you?” she asked.
       He clasped his hands over his knee. “Either you have an identical twin, or your name isn’t Janet.”
       Her face turned red.
       “Or maybe Janet’s a nickname?”
       “I…” her voice faltered. She glanced over her shoulder at the display counter filled with an assortment of pastries, then at the wall clock hanging behind it.
       “Your music…” Really, what could be said about her music? Unlike Carl and Mimi, he’d been to his fair share of concerts. He grew up with a younger sister who loved Chopin and Brahms. Yet he’d never heard anyone play with such passion. It had been palpable. Contagious, even. He draped his elbow over the chair’s back. “What song did you play just now? I didn’t recognize it from anywhere.”
       “I write my own.”
       She pulled at her earlobe. “We’re closing soon. Would you like something to go?”
       He nodded toward the other couple. “Their coffee wasn’t to go.”
       The red came back. It made him smile.
       “You were here earlier, weren’t you?” she asked.
       “You serve very hot coffee.”
       She set her hand on top of the chair across from him. A diamond caught the light and sparkled on her finger. He hadn’t noticed it this morning.
       “Amanda mentioned that you wanted to speak with me,” she said.
       He could have told her about his plans but something held him back. Maybe it was the aftereffects of her music, or the rich scent of coffee in the café, or an instinct he’s inherited from his father. He simply knew now was not the time. “Just wanted to compliment the owner.”
       Her forehead wrinkled. “An employee spills coffee on you and you want to compliment the owner? You do realize that’s not a typical response?”
       “Maybe I’m not a typical guy.” He leaned across the small table and stuck out his hand. “Ian McKay. I’m in Peaks on business.”
       She twisted the ring on her finger. “Didn’t we already do this?”
       “I don’t recall meeting any Robins today. A nice lady named Janet who tried to warn me about the hazardous cloud of incense in Sybil’s Antique Shoppe, maybe. But no Robin.”
       An uncomfortable laugh escaped her lips as she reached out and shook his hand. Her movement was soaked in hesitation.

Excerpt used with permission. All rights reserved.

Gallant Score

Ian has a job to do, and he’s good at it. The beauty of this story is watching as Ian’s priorities shift from what he thinks is best for Peaks, to what he knows is best for Peaks, and himself. When it comes right down to choices, Ian takes a stand because it’s the right thing to do. His journey towards full blown white knight-dom is one of the reasons he slam-dunks the orange here.

Wounded Score

It’s hard to share the depth of Ian’s wounds without giving something away. Let’s just say Ian knows the meaning of loss in some of its darkest forms. It leaves him with a feeling of inadequacy, and Ian believes he still has something to prove to the world, himself, and especially his dad.

Softie Score

Can I just say there’s a puppy involved and leave it at that? =) Ian is a softie when it counts. The vulnerable, tender side of him is a perfect foil to the GQ model, “I got this under control.” side.

Stupid Strikes

Nothing to report here. Ian (like all heroes) has his moments of being less than “perfect”, but nothing strike-worthy.

Swoon Score

Did I mention the GQ model thing? I did? Oh. Yes. Well, moving right along past the physical appearance….I sooooo want to spill all the itsy-bitsy details of just how sweet Ian is! Have you ever just wanted to hug a character because they’re so awesome and you know how much what they’ve done will mean to the other people in the story? I was there with Ian so many times. Let me condense it for you. In a nutshell, the things that are most precious to Robin become precious to Ian, too. And he shows it in a turn-your-insides-to-mush and explode-your-heart-with-happiness kind of way.

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Katie Ganshert is the author of Wildflowers from Winter and Wishing on Willows, both published by Waterbrook Press, a division of Random House. Her debut, Wildflowers from Winter, was a Christian Retailing’s Best and Christy Award finalist in the contemporary romance category and a Carol Award finalist in the debut category. She lives in Iowa with her handsome husband, their dinosaur-loving son, and their goofy black lab, Bubba. When she’s not busy writing or playing or reading or snuggling, she is obsessing over the paperwork and the waiting that comes with adoption, which she and her husband hope to complete sometime before they are fifty. You can learn more about Katie and her books by visiting her website or author Facebook page.

The FHF Exclusive Directly from the Author

Ian McKay is a man who's just trying to do the right thing, but no matter which way he turns, he's going to hurt someone he loves (or is falling in love with). He's got some baggage he's not proud of, a father who's nearly impossible to live up to, and this stubborn woman who is slowly capturing his heart. For all those reasons and more, Ian became one of my favorite characters to write.

Interestingly enough, if you were to read the original draft of Wishing on Willows, you probably wouldn't recognize Ian at all. Somewhere along the line, his name changed, his hair went blonde, he developed that killer crinkly-eyed smile, his personality softened, and he acquired a love for cooking. I even changed his back story and the motivation behind his story goal. Why, you might be wondering? Because I needed to give readers a hero they could fall in love with, someone worthy of Robin's attention. Originally, he was much more the villainous but tortured, shrewd business-man type. I hope readers fall in love with this new, improved Ian McKay much more quickly than they would have with the previous version.

The giveaways

Alright hero-girls, same giveaway setup as always. One copy of Wishing on Willows in the winner's choice of format, but please tell us to toss your name in the drawing. For those who have already enjoyed Wishing on Willows, leave us the name of a character not used in the excerpt and we'll put your name in the bowl for a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble giftcard. Once that character has been used, you'll need to choose another. Winners randomly drawn on August 14th. Be sure to leave your e-mail address in your comment in a spam-fighting format like Ian (at) wishingonwillows (dot) com

FHF News

Nancy here! If you haven't already seen the change to our blog header, it is with great excitement I'm able to announce that guest feature writer Joy W. Doering has joined FHF as a regular contributor. (We're trying to think of a more awesome title for her but for now that's what we've got. =) Joy and I have so much in common it's kind of scary and please give her an orange-worthy welcome to the FHF family.


  1. Put me in the drawing please! I've read a few reviews about this book but yours is making me add it to my to-read list! Thanks for sharing!


  2. This was a great book and Ian is definitely a worthy hero!
    For my character I'm going to name Evan Price-another great hero!

    1. So glad you're a fan of Evan, Abbi!

    2. YES! He is so GOOD.

  3. Well this just brought a HUGE smile to my face this lovely Thursday morning. Thank you for the very fun review! I just absolutely love what you ladies are doing here on this blog! What a unique/intriguing/fun way to review romance!

    I'm so very glad you loved Ian!

  4. Such a great book! And I loved Ian's character, too. For my character, I'll name Amanda Price. lmbartelt (at) gmail (dot) com

    Love this style of review. I'll be back!

    1. Welcome to FHF, Lisa. =) We're glad you're here & we'll get you entered in the gift card drawing.

  5. Wish I had his cooking skills. :)

    1. Lol- same here Bryan! This book also made me hungry on more than one occasion.

    2. Bryan - so fun to see you here! You DO have the apron. :)

  6. Please, pretty please, enter my name in the drawing. Wishing on Willows sounds like a FABULOUS book and I can't wait to fall in love with Ian McKay!

    texaggs2000 at gmail dot com

  7. This books sounds fantastic.....loved your review! Please enter me for the giveaway!
    Jackie Smith


  8. I'd like to be in the drawing for a paperback copy, please. :) I keep meaning to read these books!

  9. I loved this book! Thank you for entering me in the contest! For my character mention, I'll go with Bethany. :)

    Scraphappy71 at sbcglobal dot net

  10. I'm gonna go with Bethany Quinn Price [because Bethany Quinn is the name of a friend's daughter ;)].

    Loved Ian! And can't wait for your next one Katie! I'd love to be in for the Amazon card!

    1. I would like to point out that Michelle and I posted at [essentially] the same time :p.

    2. Joy and I are good with that, Carol. I saw them come in within a minute or so of each other. Although it would have been fun to make you virtually arm-wrestle over it, hehe. KIDDING.
      We'll get you both in the GC drawing with BETHANY.

      Waving to everyone!!! I am watching you guys have fun with Ian but can't get away to play yet.

    3. I hope you all fall in love with Davis Knight - the hero of A Broken Kind of Beautiful!

    4. The pic to 'represent' him on Pinterest looks good! Have I already mentioned how much I am anticipating A Broken Kind of Beautiful? You really have a gift, Katie!

  11. I'm like you Joy and read mostly historical fiction, but this year I have read several contemporary fiction book and actually enjoyed all of them. Would love to win this one by Katie G.


    1. Glad to know I'm not alone, Patty! =) We will get you in the drawing.

  12. This sounds like a great book with a wonderful hero. Please enter me in the drawing for Wishing on Willows.


  13. Fabulous book. Fabulous writer with a great future ahead of her. VERY worthy hero. Once again, one of the BEST I've read this year. Good choices, y'all!

    I'll go with Elyse Price, for the giftcard giveaway. (What a sweet girl :))


    g.gclermont AT gmail DOT com

    1. Welcome,Joy!!

    2. Hi Ganise! Thanks for the great feedback & the welcome. :) We'll get you in the drawing with Elyse. (Which happens to be my youngest daughter's middle name, except we spelled it Elise)

  14. Love me some Ian (and some Katie Ganshert). I'll enter the gift card drawing with sweet Caleb Price. ENewman(at)outlook(dot)com

  15. This sounds amazing! Thanks for the great review. I always look forward to the new posts on this site. :) I haven't read this book yet, so it is going on my TBR list. Don't add me to the drawing.

    Welcome to the blog, Joy! I look forward to reading more of your reviews!

    1. Thank you, Stacey. :) It's an honor to be here with all you hero girls.

  16. Gretchen E.K. EngelAugust 2, 2013 at 11:13 PM

    OK. My original response got chomped by cyberspace. I'd love to be entered in the drawing. I'm a Kindle user.

    I live in a small town, so Robin's coffee shop makes me smile. We have a lot of little businesses here and I know several owners. Between trying to prove himself (love those type of struggles) and that he likes cooking, Ian is a hero I want to meet.

  17. I haven't read this book, but I'm looking forward to it! Toss my name in the hat please!


  18. Intriguing! I haven't read this book yet, either, so thanks for the giveaway! Toss away. ;)

    inspiringdaring (at) yahoo (dot) com

  19. I would love to be entered in the drawing for Wishing On Willows.

    Katie J.

  20. Please enter my name in the drawing. Your review was great. Would love to win this book. Thank you for sharing.
    Barbara Thompson

  21. Welcome aboard, Joy! Thanks for your feature on Ian. He sounds like a real sweetie. I would love to read more about him. Please enter me in the drawing. Thank you!


  22. Please enter me to win this book, thanks

    sonflower277 at gmail dot com

  23. I would love to read. Sounds very good.

  24. Love this storyline - please enter me in the drawing. Thanks!


  25. Veronica SternbergAugust 10, 2013 at 9:31 PM

    Welcome Joy! I've been wanting to read this one for a while; I loved the first one. Please enter me! shopgirl152nykiki(at)yahoo(dot)com

  26. We have WINNERS!!! Courtesy of the

    Winner of a copy of Ian's book Wishing on Willows is Britney Adams.

    Winner of the $10 giftcard to Amazon or B&N is Ganise C.

    Thank you hero-girls, thank you Joy and thank you Katie.
    If you didn't win it, sell something on craig's list and pick up your own copy today. Ian is worth it. =D

  27. Congratulations Britney & Ganise! & thanks to everyone for welcoming me. :)