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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Beekeeper's Ball by Susan Wiggs

Susan Wiggs is one of those authors whose books I always seem to have around or pick up from the library but never actually get around to reading.  I clearly remember my mom loving her historicals back in my early romance reading days, but as with many other authors people highly recommend, I just never got to her.  A month or so ago a friend and I were chatting about our insane stacks of NetGalley titles and The Beekeeper's Ball was on her list. It's the second in a series (tho I can't really tell who else the series will follow) and she had read and loved the first one as well.  I started reading it fairly quickly, but since I'd sent it to my phone instead of my iPad (an experiment in how I read) I ended up reading it over a couple of weeks. I enjoyed it tremendously, and would actually hesitate to call it a traditional romance (more on this later.)

Here's the plot summary:
Isabel Johansen, a celebrated chef who grew up in the sleepy Sonoma town of Archangel, is transforming her childhood home into a destination cooking school—a unique place for other dreamers to come and learn the culinary arts. Bella Vista's rambling mission-style hacienda, with its working apple orchards, bountiful gardens and beehives, is the idyllic venue for Isabel's project…and the perfect place for her to forget the past.

But Isabel's carefully ordered plans begin to go awry when swaggering, war-torn journalist Cormac O'Neill arrives to dig up old history. He's always been better at exposing the lives of others than showing his own closely guarded heart, but the pleasures of small-town life and the searing sensuality of Isabel's kitchen coax him into revealing a few truths of his own.

The dreamy sweetness of summer is the perfect time of year for a grand family wedding and the enchanting Beekeeper's Ball, bringing emotions to a head in a story where the past and present collide to create an unexpected new future.

From "one of the best observers of stories of the heart" (Salem Statesman-Journal), The Beekeeper's Ball is an exquisite and richly imagined novel of the secrets that keep us from finding our way, the ties binding us to family and home, and the indelible imprint love can make on the human heart.

And my thoughts:
I really enjoyed every single character in this one. The hero and heroine are both terrific and likable, as are all the supporting cast.  It's possible that this is a flaw to some people, but I just really enjoyed that I didn't dislike anyone.   Isabel is warm and loving and a bit of a mother to everyone, filling her life by cooking for others and seeing to their comfort. Cormac is supposed to be a war hardened journalist, but for the most part he just seemed like a regular guy.  If they had a flaw, both would suffer from believing that one example of how they managed relationships in the past is definitive for the future. That said, Cormac realizes early on how he feels and is not scared to let Isabel know. I loved that.

If I were categorizing this one, I would probably put it more towards women's fiction than romance. The romance often takes second stage to the story of her grandfather's past during WWII and it felt at times that much more attention was given to this part of the story.  While it is very interesting and compelling, it did leave me wondering how exactly the romance came about. There wasn't a lot of time left for these two to get to know each other.

Overall, a very solid book and when the first one (The Apple Orchard) popped up on NetGalley this week I requested it as well.  If you like to romance to be nice and easy, with more to the story than the starring couple, and the intimate moments to be found behind closed doors, I would recommend picking this one up.


  1. I love the titles of her books, so nutritious. Thank you for your thoughts.

  2. Yay! Glad you liked it. Can you believe I still haven't gotten to this one?

  3. I have this one loaded on my iPad and now I am really looking forward to reading it! Sounds like my type of book!

  4. This does sound good. I haven't read this author before, but I've seen her name around.

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