Because I received The Beekeeper's Ball by Susan Wiggs for review, I never read the first book in The Bella Vista Chronicles, The Apple Orchard. Don't make the same mistake. If you want to read a dramatic, well-written family story, try the first in the series, and then move on. The Beekeeper's Ball combines family drama, romance, and a story of the Danish Resistance during World War II.
After her parents' tragic deaths, Isabel Johansen was sheltered and raised by her grandparents in beautiful Sonoma County, California. She left for cooking school as a naive young woman, but when her venture into the world ended in violence, she fled home. Now, at thirty, thanks to her sister, she has the money to transform the family home into a destination cooking school. She's pouring all of her energies into work on the Bella Vista Cooking School and her sister's wedding. She's determined to teach cooking with local sources, including honey. But, her plans are disrupted when Cormac O'Neill shows up, and she mistakes the journalist for the beekeeper. His allergic reaction when he's stung sends them to the clinic for help. She had no idea Mac was there to write her grandfather's biography.
Mac's interviews with Magnus Johansen reveals a dramatic story that his granddaughters never knew. His account of his life in Denmark, his family's sheltering of Jewish friends, and his part in the Danish Resistance is a story of courage and survival. As family secrets are revealed, Isabel realizes her own secrets have kept her from living.
The story of the Danish Resistance against the Nazis stands in sharp contrast to the beauty of Bella Vista. As her grandparents' accounts alternate with Isabel's story, a family story unfolds, one that will undoubtedly continue in the next in the series. It's that family history, with its tragedy and drama that makes the romance all the more beautiful in Wiggs' successful novel, The Beekeeper's Ball.
Susan Wiggs' website is www.susanwiggs.com
The Beekeeper's Ball by Susan Wiggs. Harlequin MIRA. 2014. ISBN 9780778314486 (hardcover), 352p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I was sent the book for review.