The Beekeeper's Ball
There's no place that Isabel Johansen loves more than Bella Vista, the sprawling estate where her paternal grandparents, Eva and Magnus Johansen, raised her with loving kindness. Situated in the small town of Archangel, located in California's Sonoma County, Bella Vista has always been Isabel's haven. Now she has returned home to start a destination cooking school where she can share her culinary talents with others who embrace her passion for cooking.
Not only is Isabel busy revamping and redecorating Bella Vista into a top-notch cooking school, she's also helping her half-sister, Tess, the daughter of her father, plan her wedding, which will take place at the family home. Even though Isabel never knew her mother or father, she has found a friend and an ally in Tess, who was born on the same day as Isabel but to a different mother. In light of their fledgling relationship, Isabel is anxious to make everything perfect as she fulfills her role of maid of honor.
"With vivid descriptions that leave readers convinced that they can smell the apple blossoms on the trees in the orchard and hear the buzz of the bees in their nearby hives, Wiggs easily transports us to a fictional locale where dreams really do come true."
Although Isabel has worked long and hard to plan and implement her vision of the Bella Vista Cooking School, she's concerned that her dearest dream might be derailed now that it's about to blossom into fruition. After all, not one but two men who have crossed Isabel's path are making it difficult for her to focus fully on the business at hand. One man is a haunting specter from the past, while the other is a potentially promising new acquaintance.
Cormac O'Neill, a war veteran and award-winning writer, has turned up at Bella Vista to pen a definitive biography of Isabel's grandfather, Magnus. While Isabel isn't sure that dredging up the past is wise, particularly since her grandfather is still recovering from a nasty fall that left him in a coma for several weeks, she's willing to acquiesce to Magnus's wishes, even if it means welcoming the all-too-sexy Mac into the family fold.
Calvin Sharpe, celebrity television chef and cooking instructor, is the man from Isabel's past. Selfish, self-absorbed and controlling, Calvin represents a painful part of Isabel's past, and she's none too eager to renew her acquaintance with the man who hurt her physically or emotionally. Couldn't he have picked anywhere else in the world but Isabel's backyard in which to open his new restaurant?
As Mac interviews Magnus in preparation for his biography, Isabel is surprised to learn of the hardships her grandfather endured as part of the Danish resistance during World War II. At long last, mysteries from her family's past combine with the details of the present until she comes to learn answers to things she has only wondered about previously. Even though the past is revealing itself, Isabel has no idea what the future might hold for her, professionally or personally. All she knows is that whatever is going to happen will occur at Bella Vista, the place from which she gathers her strength.
THE BEEKEEPER'S BALL continues the story that began in THE APPLE ORCHARD. While we got to know Tess and learn her story in the first book, Susan Wiggs’s latest is all about Isabel and her place in the Johansen family. With vivid descriptions that leave readers convinced that they can smell the apple blossoms on the trees in the orchard and hear the buzz of the bees in their nearby hives, Wiggs easily transports us to a fictional locale where dreams really do come true.
Reviewed by Amie Taylor on June 25, 2014