Friday, June 17, 2011

HONEY GROVE by Genell Dellin

Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Date published: May, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-425-24153-0
Contemporary romance
Mass Market Paperback
Reviewed by: Lynne
Obtained via publisher.

HONEY GROVE, by Genell Dellin, is a heartwarming story about family, life in a small town, and a beautiful farm in Texas called HONEY GROVE.

New York attorney Meredith Briscoe returns home to bury the mother who had long ago abandoned her. Lilah Briscoe, her grandmother, is happy to finally have her back but knows Meri will soon return to her busy city life, probably never to return, as her deceased mother, Edie Jo, had done so long ago. All Lilah, a widow, has now is a peculiar, noisy cat named Henry and a large note due on her beloved farm, HONEY GROVE.

When Lilah falls from a ladder and ends up in the hospital, Meri is frantic, since it is interfering with her plans to catch her flight home. Still, feeling guilty that she is leaving the grandmother she has never really known, she returns to HONEY GROVE to check on Henry before her flight leaves. Unfortunately, she accidentally runs him down with her car, in her urgency, and immediately takes him to the nearest animal hospital. It is there she again meets the very handsome bad-boy rancher, Caleb Burkett, who had attended her mother’s funeral, having known her grandmother since he was a boy. Unfortunately, Meri has no interest in Caleb or Lilah’s cat. She is only interested in returning home to her job and her love interest, Tim, also an attorney.

Soon, however, life in the small community of Rock Springs slowly niggles its way into Meri’s heart, as her attraction to Caleb Burkett also grows. She then starts to reconsider her life in New York, together with her problems there. When Buford Quisinberry, a local banker, refuses to extend time to Lilah on the note due soon on HONEY GROVE, Meri feels obligated to help her grandmother keep the farm. Later, it becomes the most important thing, since she has fallen in love with HONEY GROVE...and with Caleb Burkett.

As Caleb and Meri join forces to help Lilah in her efforts to save HONEY GROVE, the two take on more than they bargain for. But in the end, it is the affections and loyalty of a small town that help them overcome all the problems at hand. And it is one of the deciding factors that convinces Meri to stay right where she is. With her loving grandmother. At home. At HONEY GROVE.

HONEY GROVE by Genell Dellin is a slow-paced, pleasantly-delightful read. With its array of characters, small town conflicts and problems, it is a lot of fun getting to know the many citizens of Rock Springs who love to gossip, exchange pleasantries, or step forward to help out when necessary.

Genell Dellin’s skillful use of words to weave this first book in her new series is done well and draws you in from start to finish. Into the everyday problems of the main characters, Meredith and Lilah, as they sort through everything they are up against. The conflicts are real and easily help the reader relate to what the characters are going through. Having your back up against the wall when a bill - in this case a note - is due, when the money stops coming in due to job loss or, as relates to farming, weather conditions that destroy or complicate a harvest, is something most people can relate to. The worry and the fear one goes through is not something anyone wants in their life. Ms. Dellin has done a fine job in making it clear that Lilah Briscoe is at her wits’ end as she sees her life falling apart, as well as her granddaughter’s, who is struggling with work-related issues and relationships at the office.

Still, amidst all the calamity and frustration, Ms. Dellin deftly interjects the slowly blooming romance between the two characters, Meredith and Caleb. Ms. Dellin does well in describing not only the beauty of their relationship, but the conflict as well. Using choice wording to share the ingredients of their unique personalities and physical attractiveness, Ms. Dellin has a skill at making the reader wish these characters were actual, living, breathing human beings. And she makes you wish that HONEY GROVE was a real farm that you could visit in Texas. Just reading about the ripe, juicy peaches grown on this farm made my mouth water.

Ms. Dellin’s exceptional use of conflict greatly enhances the story. A lifelong rivalry between Lilah and Doreen Semples makes for an interesting read, as Ms. Dellin adds twists and variety in the plot to keep you turning pages, albeit at a relaxed, leisurely pace. Also, the conflict between Lilah and Buford Quisinberry, who appears to have his own self-interest at heart, is skillfully implied throughout the story, adding tension.

The serene setting of HONEY GROVE and the small town charm is vastly appealing.
If one is seeking a good summer read, then I would definitely recommend HONEY GROVE, although it is a story that can be enjoyed in any season.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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