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Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Orchard by Jeffrey Stepakoff

The Orchard by Jeffrey Stepakoff
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (320 pgs)
Heat Level: sweet
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Aloe

Grace Lyndon is a rising ingenue in the world of perfumes and flavors; a stiletto-wearing, work-a-holic in Atlanta, she develops aromas and tastes to enthrall the senses. Dylan Jackson is a widowed single father whose heart and hands have been calloused in the fields of his North Georgia apple farm. When Grace happens to taste an apple picked from Dylan’s trees, it changes both their lives forever.

Determined to track down the apple’s origin, Grace sets off in the middle of the night where she finds not only a beautiful mountain orchard in the clouds, but the mysterious man who owns it. In Stepakoff’s heartbreaking eloquence, their sudden yet undeniable attraction is threatened—leaving readers with a momentous finale that proves Jeffrey Stepakoff is a master craftsman of the heart.

She’s in the world of perfumes and flavors and when she tastes an apple that has a unique flavor, she’s on the hunt for the elusive scent…

Mr. Stepakoff creates a very strong female lead character that is afraid of nothing, is a work-a-holic, and a corporate game player. The apple belongs to Dylan, the male lead, who is a widowed single father and whose heart hasn’t mended since his wife’s unfortunate death. Dylan is determined to refuse the big corporation’s request for access to his land and his trees. Grace won’t take no for an answer.

I was surprised to see a man write such an accurate portrayal of the emotional make up of people’s characters. The author does an excellent job of expressing Grace’s desire for the unusual scent and Dylan’s reluctance at finding Grace attractive; he’s still in love with his dead wife.

The really interesting part of this tale is the author’s knowledge of how scents are acquired, how they are mixed, and how to really experience the touch, taste, feel, and smell of good food or good fragrances. He describes a unique meal and gives you enough information you get hungry as you read it. It made me look at food presentation and the style of cooking much differently.

I found the juxtaposition of world of fragrance and the world of an apple orchard grower fascinating. The developing romance goes slowly and the two main characters find their priorities in life changing. The plot is realistic and a pleasure to read. I enjoyed this story enough, I’m going to look for the author’s first book: Fireworks Over Toccoa. I bet that will be good also.

Why not visit this apple orchard yourself and laugh over Grace’s predicaments?

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