Francesca Bond is essentially alone. After the death of her father, her mother went to Italy and never returned. Francesca has two friends, Savannah and C.J., but they do not live near Francesca because Francesca is always “on the move” – she moves a few times each year. She seems to be on the run from a blind panic that she can scarcely identify,although it haunts her daily.
Francesca survives on working at a coffee shop and has a second job working at an Internet café. Financially, Francesca barely scrapes enough money together to cover her rent in a bad neighborhood. She has no car and walks home alone after work. One night, Francesca flees from someone following her and finds herself in a beautiful neighborhood with a Victorian house that she is mysteriously drawn to. Francesca has heard local gossip about a house with certain powers, and she wonders if she has stumbled upon the home that she has heard about.
Needing help, Francesca approaches the home, called Mystic Hearts, that also houses a candy store called Bains Candies. An elderly large-boned man named Joshua and a younger woman named Marta take Francesca into the store and give her hot chocolate. Joshua and Marta persuade Francesca to spend the night, and she is brought to a beautiful room adorned exactly how she pictured it down to the last detail. One night turns into days, and Francesca slowly but surely becomes a part of Mystic Hearts.
It is fate that has brought Francesca to Mystic Hearts. Joshua and Marta explain that once a year, on a midsummer night’s eve, a person needing desperate help comes to Mystic Hearts. Joshua and Marta have saved many people over the years, and these guests typically stay for a year before reentering the real world. However, Joshua and Marta have different plans for Francesca. Joshua is in poor health, and he wants Francesca to take over Mystic Hearts and Bains Candies. When a friend of Joshua and Marta’s shows up one day, Francesca is drawn to this man –Paul, also a former guest of Mystic Hearts. As Francesca’s life is transformed into something she never dreamed of, she discovers that her destiny is wrapped in secrets that Joshua and Marta wish to share with her.Awakening is a novel about life taking an unexpected turn and the journey that follows. Lauren takes some chances, accepts her new fate, and comes to realize that her “new life” is more appealing than the life that she left behind. This NEXT release has a nice blend of humor and poignancy as well as an interesting cast of characters.
Awakening is a unique novel, and I enjoyed reading about Mystic Hearts and how her residence there transforms Francesca’s life. That said, it is essential for the reader to suspend a desire for realism - this read is fantasy, and nothing like it would happen in the real world. While I did enjoy this book, it could be better with a few plot twists to save the story from becoming predictable as the novel progresses. Also, Savannah and C.J. are frequently mentioned in the novel but never make an “appearance,” which seems a bit odd.