I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Lemon Orchard on July 2, 2013
From bestselling author Luanne Rice—a captivating and sexy novel of love, both enduring and unexpected
Year after year, Luanne Rice’s fans eagerly await her next book. Their enthusiasm is soon to be rewarded with The Lemon Orchard, Rice’s romantic new love story between two people from seemingly different worlds.
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.
Julia is still reeling five years after the death of her daughter and husband. While visiting her Aunt and Uncle in Malibu she forms a bond with Roberto, a man who is also suffering through the loss of a daughter. Julia’s daughter died and is truly gone, however, Roberto’s daughter was lost in the desert while attempting to cross over into the United States from Mexico.
The relationship between Julia and Roberto was initially very moving and their bond was very apparent. I loved seeing the two come together and heal one another because of shared grief but their relationship quickly became stagnant and never developed (as relationships typically do). The characters in general were never unrealistic but they definitely lacked a convincing quality that made me invested in their story.
What played a huge part in this story is Mexican immigration and I can honestly say if I had known this I would have never picked this book up. It’s just not a topic of interest for me, especially when it’s portrayed in this manner. At one point in the story it’s stated that the Irish immigration is just like the Mexican immigration because of the similar types of prejudice that they face. Now, I’m no history professor but that gave even me pause. Based on my understanding, immigration laws were vastly different in the 19th century and not only that but the Irish didn’t have welfare programs to take advantage of like there are in existence today. When the Irish immigrated to America there weren’t laws in place that prevented them legally from doing so and they had to work hard and be self-sufficient in order for them and their families to survive. The current immigration from Mexico does not conform with our current laws so that alone is a huge difference and should prevent any sort of comparison so I’ll just leave it at that.
The Lemon Orchard is clearly outside of the author’s comfort zone, touching on hot topic issues like immigration, the stereotypes associated with individuals that immigrate and the mixing of different social classes. While I can appreciate the fact that these topics are being discussed, I’m not sure it succeeded in challenging anything (except for succeeding in following the same stereotypical path) and never quite made me sympathetic as I’m sure was intended.