The Lemon Orchard by Luanne Rice

The Lemon Orchard by Luanne Rice
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books / Penguin Group
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (304 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rated: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Rose

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.

The Lemon Orchard is a beautifully written book with a touch of mystery and a touch of romance.

There are basically two stories here— the romance between Julia and Roberto and the mystery surrounding what happened to Rosa.

The romance bloomed due to Roberto and Julia both losing their daughters five years before–Julia’s daughter, Jenny, to death–a possible suicide–and Roberto’s daughter, Rosa, being literally lost in the desert as they tried to reach the US. This creates a bond that surpasses the differences in their backgrounds. Julia is the niece of Roberto’s boss and she’s housesitting while her aunt and uncle are in Ireland.

The strongest part of the story is the mystery about what happened to Rosa. The detail Ms. Rice goes into and the research she has done on illegal border crossing is evident.

The character development is beautifully done– not only the main characters but the secondary characters as well–even the ones that are not present such as Julia’s aunt and uncle. I would love to read their story. I would also like to see more of Jack Leary, the retired border control officer who plays such a large role in solving the mystery of Rosa’s disappearance.

Told in first person from Julia’s perspective and in third person from other characters’ perspectives, The Lemon Orchard is an easy book to read and get involved in.

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