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Friday, March 4, 2011

Late Harvest by Suzanne Barrett

Late Harvest by Suzanne Barrett
Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (165 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 Books
Reviewed by Camellia

Kurt von Daniken wants only one thing from Glenna Ryan: The key to making Eiswein - Ice Wine. Five years ago, while working at his family's California winery, she'd begun developing the method to simulate wine made from grapes gathered after a freeze. Now, when the winery desperately needs it, the only person who might be able to duplicate Glenna's process, Kurt's tyrannical Uncle Otto, lies paralyzed by a stroke and near death. Glenna wants only one thing from the von Danikens: To be left in peace to raise her son, Robbie, who suffers from a birth defect and needs an expensive surgery to repair it. When Kurt suddenly appears at her home, demanding she return to Cresthaven and complete the process, Glenna knows the money she'll earn by doing so will provide Robbie the treatment he needs. She also knows she'll risk having her heart broken, again, by Kurt, the only man she's ever loved. But, what if he discovers the real reason she left Cresthaven?

Full of emotional stress, insecurities, and misconstrued assumptions, Late Harvest throbs with unrequited love. It bears out the veracity of the adage--better late than never.

Glenna Ryan, a hardworking, single mother, knows if she goes back to work at Cresthaven for one season, Robbie can have the surgery he needs. Nothing, not her humiliation, anger, or broken heart, will keep her from doing what is best for her five-year-old son.

Glenna’s emotional wounds received from Otto and Kurt von Daniken never healed. However, she feels indebted to Otto who is dying. He had provided materially for her after her mother’s death and, sad but true, she still loves Kurt, her Teutonic prince, so tall, blond, and handsome, even though he seems cold and remote.

Kurt, reared by a stern father in his early years then by his even sterner Uncle Otto, puts duty and responsibility above all else. Love is not supposed to figure into the equation of life according to his upbringing.

At Cresthaven, Robbie takes to life and to Kurt who teaches him lots of things little boys love. However, Kurt had no understanding of a child’s needing love, affection, or pets to cuddle. He almost destroys his bond with Robbie before he comes to the realization that life without Robbie and Glenna will leave an emptiness inside him that cannot be filled. He understands his need for them but he still does not understand LOVE.

The conflicts seem insurmountable, However, Kurt and Glenna succumbs to old desires that never died. Their need for each other in every way draws them together, but Glenna wants love not just marriage and business.

The mystery of Glenna’s ancestry fuels the misgivings. Only with clues given by Otto and some attic searching are answers found that give Glenna understanding and closure for past grief and fears.

The secondary characters create the background of life moving along regardless of hurts, fears, and unrequited love. Mags, the housekeeper, is a steady giver of unconditional love, while the cook Carmen and her son add strange elements that pique one’s interest. The workers in the vineyard—from winemaker to field hands make Late Harvest come alive with the doings of ordinary living.

Suzanne Barrett crams a wealth of emotion, hard work, and social interaction into this short novel. The descriptions, introspections, and humor (ex. the claws of the kitten making a prick that lets out “pompous hot air”) grabs the attention and keeps one reading. Best of all is getting to vicariously experience long-suffering love being rewarded with a magnificent acknowledgement and a promised happy-ever-after.