The name of Jessilyn Stewart Peaslee became precious to me late last year, as soon as I read and fell completely in love with her first novel, Ella. I read many books last year as a frequent book reviewer for Cedar Fort Publishing, and her book was one of my top two favorites.
Back in June of this year, she contacted me and asked me to read the nearly final draft of her new companion novel to Ella, called Ella’s Will, and write an endorsement of it. I was honored and thrilled to be asked to do so. When I had written my review of Ella just seven months before, I wrote:
“I was just as much in love with the character of Will, her childhood friend. The story wasn’t told from his perspective, but it didn’t matter, because the author painted his thoughts and feelings through his nonverbal, verbal, and physical communication. It was brilliant.”
What an absolute treat to be able to read the same lovely, romantic story from the perspective of Will. After I eagerly read the draft, I thought very carefully about my endorsement. This is what I came up with:
“The question of how to be a great man is one that has been asked throughout time. Through the eyes, heart, and hands of Will Hawkins, the reader will be enveloped with the delicate answer. Ella’s Will is a story of sacrifice, selflessness, courage, and the truest of true love. Your heart will be touched over and over again by Will and his Ella.”
Even though I had already had the opportunity to read Ella’s Will once, I knew I wanted to do the blog tour as well. I just had to have a copy of it for my bookshelf at home. The cover of the book is beautiful, as is the title. I love the double meaning. Throughout his time with Ella, Will learns her true character – that she is one who must rescue herself in her own ways, and follow her own heart. He couldn’t save her or change her will, no matter how much he wanted to take away her anguish.
I loved Will Hawkins even more from reading Ella’s Will. He wasn’t a perfect young man – he was sarcastic, sometimes hot-headed, letting his anger overcome him, and often unforgiving. To be honest, I love it when authors make the protagonist imperfect. This way he has a chance to grow and develop through choices, revelations, and circumstances. Despite his faults, though, Will was a wonderful person. As I indicated in my endorsement, he was completely selfless when it came to Ella. He sacrificed time, sleep, and even broke rules to help her in any way he could. He loved her more than in any love story I have ever read, and he showed it by making decisions that weren’t convenient for him, but were rather painful, robbing him of true joy, all in the name of what he felt would bring his Ella ultimate happiness.
Did Will always make the best decisions? Was he always courageous? No, he wasn’t. But, his heart was pure, and I feel that any man reading this novel would find qualities in Will that they would wish to emulate to better appreciate, admire, and cherish the women they love.
If you sit down to read Ella’s Will expecting an exact replica of the Cinderella story, you will be disappointed. It is very different, though the background of Ella’s circumstances are mostly the same as in the original. The story of Cinderella is absolutely beautiful and full of great meaning, but so are Ella and Ella’s Will. Open your mind to something a little different, and see how this new take on the story can touch the depths of your soul. I highly recommend not only reading this novel, but also Ella. You can understand Ella’s Will, and love it on its own, but you will love it even more if you also read Ella, to get her perspectives, and the details behind her suffering that Will so desperately wanted to end.
Jessilyn Stewart Peaslee is an extremely talented author, and I love both of her novels. My one complaint with Ella’s Will, though, is that Will is sometimes overly flowery in his thoughts about Ella. Sometimes I felt I was rereading the same sentiments over and over again. As a man completely in love with every fiber of his being, perhaps this was realistic. But, I felt some of that language could have been removed to keep the story moving. Overall, though, I loved reading from Will’s perspective – not only his interactions and thoughts about Ella, but also his personal life – his friends, his job, his home, his dreams.
As I stated in my endorsement, if you want to know what a real man is, or how to become one, this is the book to read. These two novels I will never forget, and they will never leave the safety of my bookshelf. Please read them both.