From bestselling author Luanne Rice – captivating and sexy novel of love, both enduring and unexpected.
Year after year, Luanne Rice’s fans eagerly await her next audiobook. Their enthusiasm is soon to be rewarded with The Lemon Orchard, Rice’s romantic new love story between two people from seemingly different worlds.
In the five years since Julia last visited her aunt and uncle’s home in Malibu, her life has been turned upside down by her daughter’s death. She expects to find nothing more than peace and solitude as she house-sits with only her dog, Bonnie, for company. But she finds herself drawn to the handsome man who oversees the lemon orchard. Roberto expertly tends the trees, using the money to support his extended Mexican family. What connection could these two people share? The answer comes as Roberto reveals the heartbreaking story of his own loss – a pain Julia knows all too well, but for one striking difference: Roberto’s daughter was lost but never found. And despite the odds he cannot bear to give up hope.
Set in the sea and citrus-scented air of the breathtaking Santa Monica Mountains, The Lemon Orchard is an affirming story about the redemptive power of compassion and the kind of love that seems to find us when we need it most.
©2013 Luanne Rice (P)2013 Random House
It was adequately narrated by Blair Brown.
I was in the mood for a light read and given the many positive reviews, The Lemon Orchard was a good choice.
Temporarily relocated to her uncle's estate in Malibu while he is away, Julia is still trying to come to terms with her grief at the death of her daughter Jenny, for which she feels responsible. She connects with the orchard manager Roberto, an illegal immigrant who suffered the loss of his daughter Rosa, conveniently also five years previously and coincidentally for which he too feels responsible.
Julia's connection and love for Bonnie, her daughter's dog is touching, but we are offered little of the intimacy of their mother/daughter relationship. Julia emanates guilt, rather than grief. On the other hand, one truly feels Roberto's grief, albeit with a strong but appropriate element of guilt too. Roberto is believable, Julia - not quite.
Both Julia and Roberto are sympathetic characters and their mutual attraction, despite the social divide is credible. Julia needs to heal herself by resolving the unknown fate of Roberto's 6-year old daughter who went missing during his aborted border crossing. Julia is conveniently placed in Roberto's orbit as this is essentially his story, not hers.
For invaluable insight into the bravery and desperation that motivate this undertaking, read Luis Alberto Urrea's "The Devil's Highway". This explicit and deeply moving account of what Mexicans go through to seek better lives for themselves and their families is an ideal companion to the Lemon Orchard and any other novel covering illegal migration from Mexico. Possibly it is this record that subliminally filled the gaps for me in The Lemon Orchard.
Luanne Rice's descriptive passages of the orchard, surrounding countryside and the fire that ravages the estate are beautifully written. Roberto is believable as a decent, hardworking man with a shadow hanging over him. Julia, however, does not fully transcend into much more than a vehicle for Roberto.
The story loses its way in the middle, but picks up towards the end for a satisfying, if predictable conclusion.
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