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July 22, 2014 / Leslie

Review: The Beekeeper’s Ball by Susan Wiggs

BeekeepersBallThe Beekeeper’s Ball
by Susan Wiggs

Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Publish Date: June 24, 2014
Format: Hardcover | 368 pages
Rating: 4 of 5

Publisher’s Synopsis:

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.

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.

My Thoughts:

In The Apple Orchard, the first book in this series, we are introduced to Bella Vista, an estate in the Sonoma valley, and the family that owns it. The focus of the story was on Tess’s discovery of the family she never knew existed, and an ensuing romance with her grandfather’s banker, Dominic, whom she met at Bella Vista.

Now we return to Bella Vista where Tess’s sister, Isabel, is in the midst of opening a cooking school, while at the same time learning beekeeping, setting up the hives and planning Tess and Dominic’s wedding. To add to the mounting frenzy, a reporter, Cormac O’Neill, will be staying at Bella Vista to interview her grandfather for a book he is writing. Isabel and Mac’s first encounter doesn’t go very well and things get a little tense when Mac is stung by several bees. Despite the incident, there is an undeniable attraction between the two, and immediately the sparks start to fly.

The Beekeeper’s Ball is Isabel’s story intertwined with flashbacks about her grandfather’s experiences as a member of the Dutch resistance during World War II. He recalls the stories as Mac interviews him for the book he is writing. The novel works well as a standalone. It is not necessary to have read the first book; the story is easy to follow and the author provides the background information needed. (However, if you like this book you will enjoy the first one.)

With its beautiful, lush setting, charming atmosphere and descriptive prose, Beekeeper’s Ball is a pleasant, easy read that is more than just a romance novel. It incorporates a compelling historical element woven seamlessly into the present day, where Isabel is restoring Bella Vista, discovering her own identity and falling in love.

I’m already looking forward to the next book in the Bella Vista Chronicles.

Source: Review copy provided by Harlequin MIRA.
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Leave a Comment
  1. irene / Jul 22 2014 2:34 pm

    sounds good, on my TBR


  2. BermudaOnion / Jul 22 2014 3:50 pm

    I like Wigg’s writing but didn’t realize this is part of a series.


  3. Judith / Jul 23 2014 10:26 am

    I read the first book, which I enjoyed. So, you’d recommend this one too? I have so much to read still, I’m not sure whether to put it on my wishlist.


    • Leslie / Jul 23 2014 10:43 am

      It’s a fast read. I enjoyed the flashbacks and Magnus’ story about the Dutch resistance the most, plus it explains a few more parts of the ‘family history’. The romance was just so-so, and Tess, Dominic and the wedding are minor parts of the story.


  4. Carol / Jul 24 2014 11:17 am

    I don’t think I’d like the flashbacks, and if it was just a so-so romance, I think I’ll pass. Even though I have been drawn to food books lately.


    • Leslie / Jul 24 2014 11:24 am

      It was the historical part that I was drawn to. I thought the romance was ok but pretty typical – hunky guy, sparks fly, she tries to resist falling for him. I think I recall reading somewhere that there are honey recipes at the beginning of the chapters in the finished copy. I read an ARC so I’m not sure.


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