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Book Review: When the Wind Chimes by Mary Ting

Kate Summers wants to make this Christmas extra-special for her older sister, Abby, and four-year-old nephew, Tyler. A year ago, she’d given up Christmas with her family to spend the holiday with her boyfriend, Jayden, whom she had caught cheating on her the next day. Not only is she hoping to erase that memory, but she also has another even more important reason to make this Christmas special.  A few months after her disastrous break-up with Jayden, her brother-in-law, Steve, passed away from cancer, so Abby and Tyler will be spending their first Christmas alone. After taking a leave from her job as a graphic designer in LA, Kate flies to Poipu, Kauai, determined to make this an amazing holiday, but on her way to her sister’s house, she meets a mysterious man, who gives up his cab for her. Kate can’t get the handsome stranger out of her head, and when she sees him again in her sister’s art gallery–and destroys his expensive shirt with paint–she is both mortified and excited. Billionaire Leonardo Medici, the heir and CEO of Medici Real Estate Holdings, is the most sought-after bachelor on the island and the most elusive. Lee just wants privacy and a temporary nanny for his four-year-old daughter, Bridget. When Kate applies for the job, neither is aware of their previous connection to each other until they meet in Lee’s mansion after Kate is hired by his permanent nanny, Mona. Bridget quickly bonds with Kate, and as they grow closer so do Lee and Kate. Kate’s rocky relationship past, however, keeps her on edge, and she must find a way to overcome the damage done by her cheating ex before she can ever learn to love again. 

The unpredictability of life and fate’s subsequent role in a person’s future is a major theme within this novel. Abby, Kate’s sister, never expected to be a widow in her twenties. Steve, her husband, died suddenly from cancer. The disease progressed more quickly than doctors predicted, and she is left to fend for herself and Tyler. Moving to Kauai, the place where she and Steve honeymooned, is an attempt to escape her sadness and find peace in the place where their life together began. Starting her own gallery in such a small community was another uncertainty, and while the gallery struggles at times, destiny brings Lee into her small business, and he becomes her best customer when he purchases art to stage his more expensive listings, which is how he encounters Kate a second time after a quick-passing rain storm brings them together the first time. Had Kate not jumped into his cab, slinging water all over his suit, he and Kate would not have met. Kate would have never seen the ad for a nanny had Abby not come down with a cold and needed Kate to drop Tyler off at preschool, and she would not have gotten the job had Mona not needed a replacement nanny for two weeks. The kismet that brings Lee and Kate together is an interesting and humorous part of the novel. This fate-filled string of coincidences adds a hint of the supernatural to their love’s beginning. 

Vulnerability is another great theme of the novel. Abby is most definitely a strong woman. She not only begins her own business but also must be both mother and father to her son. However, Abby can’t do everything on her own. With her struggling business and the demands of her private life, she welcomes the help Kate brings and hopes she will stay on the island rather than going back to Los Angeles. The close relationship between the sisters is touching, and Kate’s job search shows how much she loves Abby and Tyler. Even though she fails to find a job as a graphic designer and has no experience as a nanny, she takes the job, planning to give the money to Abby to help her support Tyler. However, Kate’s willingness to try something new despite her uncertainty extends to her own artistic ability. Since her horrible experience with Jayden, she has lost her confidence and desire to paint even though Abby has successfully sold Kate’s pieces in the past. It takes courage and a release of her own fear to get her in front of a canvas, but her regained confidence brings her into contact with Lee again–albeit accidental. Lee has his own vulnerability issues. Opening up and bringing Kate into his life is a risk. He cannot allow just any woman into his life. Most of the women who approach him are only interested in his money or looks, and he must protect both his privacy and Bridget. His own past causes him trepidation because he harbors a deep hurt that is known only to those within his immediate circle. Both he and Kate learn to face their deep-seated emotions rather than burying them beneath fear and uncertainty, but to do that, they must give vulnerability free reign.
When the Wind Chimes is more than a romance novel. It’s a heart-warming, feel-good read that will leave the reading wanting more.

This review was written for Chanticleer Reviews.