Family Tree by Susan Wiggs

  • Family Tree by Susan Wigg (8:9:16 Wm Morrow)Title:  Family Tree
  • Author:  Susan Wiggs
  • Pages:  368
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  August 2016 – William Morrow
  • Source:  Publisher; Edelweiss

My take:  Annie Rush is a producer of a television cooking show starring her husband Martin. Annie learned to cook from her grandmother who taught her that just as every recipe has a key ingredient, one’s life is mapped by key events. When Annie discovers her husband in a compromising position she knows this is one of those key events. If that isn’t enough Annie is about to experience a monumental key event.

Susan Wiggs’ story is one of second chances and the willingness to keep going, even under the most dire circumstances. Annie, Fletcher (a man from her past), and even her own parents discover what it takes to go for a second chance in life. Sometimes that means starting from where you are and other times it is starting over from scratch.

If you’re a fan of Susan Wiggs I think you’ll like Family Tree as much as I did. I loved the Vermont setting and all the foodie details. (My review galley didn’t contain any recipes so I don’t know if finished copies will.) It’s a fast read that I thoroughly enjoyed.  Recommended to fans of the author and contemporary fiction.

The Beekeeper’s Ball by Susan Wiggs

the beekeeper's ball

  • Title:  The Beekeeper’s Ball
  • Series:  Bella Vista Chronicles, #2
  • Author:  Susan Wiggs
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Women’s Fiction
  • Published:  June 24, 2014 – Harlequin MIRA
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Isabel Johansen, a celebrated chef who grew up in the sleepy Sonoma town of Archangel, is transforming her childhood home into a destination cooking school—a unique place for other dreamers to come and learn the culinary arts. Bella Vista’s rambling mission-style hacienda, with its working apple orchards, bountiful gardens and beehives, is the idyllic venue for Isabel’s project…and the perfect place for her to forget the past. 
But Isabel’s carefully ordered plans begin to go awry when swaggering, war-torn journalist Cormac O’Neill arrives to dig up old history. He’s always been better at exposing the lives of others than showing his own closely guarded heart, but the pleasures of small-town life and the searing sensuality of Isabel’s kitchen coax him into revealing a few truths of his own. 
The dreamy sweetness of summer is the perfect time of year for a grand family wedding and the enchanting Beekeeper’s Ball, bringing emotions to a head in a story where the past and present collide to create an unexpected new future.  (publisher)

My take:  Susan Wigg’s lush descriptions drew me right into The Beekeeper’s Ball. Seriously, I’d love to enroll in Isabel’s cooking school and take in all Bella Vista has to offer!

Mac, an accomplished author, has arrived to write Isabel’s grandfather’s story. He was part of the Danish Resistance during WWII and, along with a few other people in Isabel’s life, came to the US when the liberation began. Magnus (the grandfather) has quite a story to tell Mac. He wants to get that story out because the truth needs to be told. That theme winds through the novel. Mac encourages Isabel to tell her truth – to herself and her loved ones. That takes extraordinary courage and she’s not sure she has it in her.

Another storyline is one that involves Isabel’s father. He died in a tragic crash on the day she was born. Isabel never had reason to doubt this truth she’d been told by her grandparents. They raised her because her mother died after giving birth to Isabel. Mystery begins to swirl around this storyline and I expect it to continue in the next book of The Bella Vista Chronicles.

I enjoyed the message of the dual stories in the book:  Magnus and his friends rising to help in the Danish Resistance before moving to a new homeland and Isabel and Mac rising to help the people in their lives. The past is the past. Embrace the future.

Note:  Although I haven’t yet read the first book in the series (The Apple Orchard) I didn’t feel lost. Wiggs did a good job explaining references to events and people from that book.

Candlelight Christmas by Susan Wiggs

Candlelight Christmas

  • Title:  Candlelight Christmas
  • Series: Lakeshore Chronicles
  • Author:  Susan Wiggs
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Christmas
  • Published:  October 2013 – Harlequin MIRA
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  A single father who yearns to be a family man, Logan O’Donnell is determined to create the perfect Christmas for his son, Charlie. The entire O’Donnell clan arrives to spend the holidays in Avalon, a postcard-pretty town on the shores of Willow Lake, a place for the family to reconnect and rediscover the special gifts of the season. 

One of the guests is a newcomer to Willow Lake—Darcy Fitzgerald. Sharp-witted, independent and intent on guarding her heart, she’s the last person Logan can see himself falling for. And Darcy is convinced that a relationship is the last thing she needs this Christmas. 

Yet between the snowy silence of the winter woods, and toasty moments by a crackling fire, their two lonely hearts collide. The magic of the season brings them each a gift neither ever expected—a love to last a lifetime.  (publisher)

My take:  If you’re a fan of the Lakeshore Chronicles by Susan Wiggs you’ll want to read Candlelight Christmas this holiday season. If you haven’t started that series go ahead and pick up this book – after finishing you’ll want to find book one and catch up in the series!

Candlelight Christmas is the charming tale of two people who haven’t gotten love “right”. Logan is a single father of one son. Darcy is divorced and not looking to get involved. When Darcy is invited by Logan’s sister to their family Thanksgiving she realizes she is attracted to Logan. They have a wonderful holiday. Weeks go by without any communication and then Darcy is invited to join the O’Donnell family for Christmas. The two enjoy the Christmas week festivities with Logan’s family in a beautiful winter setting. Logan and Darcy see sides of each other that make their feelings grow.

This book has what I look for in a Christmas romance: a great setting, a couple you really want to see find their HEA, and a warm and fuzzy story. Ultimately it’s a sweet story about discovering the true spirit of Christmas. Both young and old learn that the best gift is putting someone else’s happiness before their own.

Expected publication: October 29, 2013

Lakeshore Christmas by Susan Wiggs

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Maureen Davenport lives for Christmas—and there’s nothing more magical than Christmas on Willow Lake.

The prim librarian is finally getting her chance to direct Avalon’s annual holiday pageant, and she’s determined to make it truly spectacular. But it might just require one of those Christmas miracles she’s always read about.

Because her codirector is recovering former child star Eddie Haven, a long-haired, tattooed lump of coal in Maureen’s pageant stocking. Eddie can’t stand Christmas, but a court order from a judge has landed him right in the middle of the merrymaking.

Maureen and Eddie spar over every detail of the pageant, from casting troubled kids to Eddie’s original—and distinctly untraditional—music. Is he trying to sabotage the performance to spite her? Or is she trying too hard to fit the show into her storybook-perfect notion of Christmas?

And how is it possible that they’re falling in love?

* * * * * * *

The library in the small town of Avalon, NY is on the brink of closing – forever. Can it be saved? Susan Wiggs takes a few new characters, adds a dash of some familiar, stirs in the emotions that tend to appear at this time of year, sprinkles a Christmas pageant over it all and the result is a sweet story – especially for fans of The Lakeshore Chronicles.

Library copy

Just Breathe by Susan Wiggs

Just Breathe by Susan Wiggs: Book Cover

Back of the book: Sarah Moon tackles life’s issues with a sharp wit in her syndicated comic strip, Just Breathe. With both Sarah and her cartoon heroine undergoing fertility treatments, her fiction often reflects her reality. However, she hadn’t scripted her husband’s infidelity.

In the wake of her shattered marriage, Sarah flees to the coastal town in California where she grew up. There, she revisits her troubling past: an emotionally distant father, the loss of her mother and an unexpected connection with Will Bonner, the high school heartthrob skewered mercilessly in her comics. But he’s been through some changes himself. And just as her heart is about to reawaken, Sarah makes a most startling discovery. She’s pregnant. With her ex’s twins.

The winds of change have led Sarah to this surprising new beginning. All she can do is just close her eyes…and breathe.

I’m a fan of Susan Wiggs’ Lakeshore Chronicles so when I saw that her stand alone novel Just Breathe was released recently in paperback I knew I had to read it. I enjoyed reading about Sarah – how she was able to leave a bad situation and move forward. Sometimes moving forward means going back to the beginning. Sarah moves back to the area where she was raised and the story takes off from there. I really liked Will and his daughter as well as several other characters. I’d love to read a sequel … or the second book in a new series? Just a thought.

Snowfall at Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs

Snowfall At Willow Lake (Lakeshore Chronicles Series) by Susan Wiggs: Book Cover

Back of the book: International lawyer Sophie Bellamy has dedicated her life to helping people in war-torn countries. But when she survives a hostage situation, she remembers what matters most – the children she loves back home. Haunted by regrets, she returns to the idyllic Catskills village of Avalon on the shores of Willow Lake, determined to repair the bonds with her family.
Snowfall at Willow Lake speaks from the heart about all the loves that fill a woman’s life, and all the ways that love is tested and made to grow. It’s the story of what comes after a woman survives an unspeakable horror and finds her way home, to healing and redemption and a new chance at happiness.
This is the fourth book of The Lakeshore Chronicles and probably my favorite. I didn’t expect that because what I knew about Sophie Bellamy from the previous books didn’t leave me with a positive impression. Susan Wiggs fleshed her out in such a way that I’d say she’s now one of the best characters in the series. Great story. Brava, Ms. Wiggs!

Summer Reads

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Summer By the Sea (Susan Wiggs) is the story of a 2nd chance at a 1st love. This is the perfect beach read – or in my case, the perfect pretend you’re at the beach read. An extra surprise (and I see this more and more) were the recipes. I recommend this book!
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Summer People (Elin Hilderbrand) is the story of a grieving family who retreat to their Nantucket summer home after the death of the husband. I just didn’t get into this book. I thought it had potential but it just left me wondering why it wasn’t a better story. I preferred Barefoot (published in 2007).