Book Review: THE LEMON ORCHARD by Luanne Rice

Lemon Orchard
Publisher: Penguin Books
Paperback Release: May 27, 2014
Source: Review copy provided by Rock Star PR
Rating: ★★★★¼

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.

THE LEMON ORCHARD is a bittersweet love story set in a beautiful Malibu lemon orchard by the Pacific Ocean. It’s in this orchard that Julia, an anthropologist, and Roberto, an undocumented immigrant worker, meet and fall in love. Julia’s teenage daughter was killed in a tragic accident five years earlier, and she’s been living in a fog of grief ever since. A job as house sitter for her aunt and uncle at their lemon orchard seems like the perfect escape. Roberto has been living with his own grief too. He lost his daughter Rosa in the Arizona desert after crossing the border from Mexico, and she was never found. Living in the United States illegally makes it almost impossible to find Rosa again, but he won’t give up hope.

This book was so much bigger than the unlikely romance between two different individuals. It gave an eye-opening account of the lengths desperate people will go through to support their families. Illegal immigration from Mexico is a hot-button issue in the US, and I think this book brings to light the horror and suffering that individuals and families go through to cross the border. Throughout the book, the author compares the poor treatment of Irish immigrants in the 19th century with what is happening with Mexican immigrants today, which is compelling food for thought.

THE LEMON ORCHARD was an emotional and suspenseful read for me, and I enjoyed it. Luanne Rice has a beautiful, fluid writing-style that completely pulls me in. Her vivid descriptions of the lush orchard and the Santa Monica Mountains were so gorgeous. I so wanted to be there. This book left me with a couple of niggling questions, particularly about Julia’s daughter, but that’s okay. THE LEMON ORCHARD was heartbreaking and thought-provoking, and well worth a read.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the book tour company in exchange for an honest review.