Title: The Beekeeper's Ball
Author: Susan Wiggs
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.
This book was perfect for the springtime mood I have been in. The sun is shining, and I am itching to get outside and plant flowers and do outdoorsy things.This book is book two in the Bella Vista series; the first is The Apple Orchard, which I didn't like quite as much as this book. I think the story line was more developed this time, and the characters as well.
Isabel was my favorite in The Apple Orchard, and I was so happy to read a book about her character. And the food sounded to die for. I want to make or at least eat the bee sting cake that was mentioned in the story. I found a recipe here, and I am thinking about attempting it this summer.
Isabel is a reserved, organized woman, who grew up practically in paradise at Bella Vista. Her parents died before she was even a week old, and she was raised by her adoring, indulgent grandparents. She loved cooking, and went off to cooking school to pursue her dream of becoming a chef, and now she is back, turning her home into a destination cooking school. And from the sound of it, if this place were real I would want to go myself! Although Isabel seems so together, she is harboring a secret that is preventing her from living her life fully. She closes herself off from love, and prefers her orderly world of her own creation.
When sexy-hot Cormac "Mac" O'Neil bumbles onto her property, you know he is definitely going to shake things up. A journalist and adventurer, he is at Bella Vista to write the biography of Isabel and her half-sister Tess' grandfather Magnus. Isabel mistakes him for a local beekeeper that she has contacted, and this results in a trip to the emergency room. Cormac is anything but safe and orderly, which is intimidating to Isabel. She fights her attraction to him, even as he pursues his attraction to her. He has his own demons, but as he is enveloped into the world of Bella Vista, he does his own soul searching.
When Mac begins the biography on Magnus, the reader is transported back to Nazi occupied Copenhagen, as we hear about Magnus' life under the regime. Later, we also hear about the ordeals that Anneslise shares. Her story actually brought tears to my eyes. Wiggs does an excellent job writing about such sensitive topics in a respectful manner.
I really enjoyed this book. It was a book about family, love and healing, set in a gorgeous paradise. If you liked The Apple Orchard, you will love this one.