Summer of Joanna

The Beekeeper’s Daughter
by Janice Carter
(Harl. Super #1295, $5.50, G) ISBN 0373-71295-2
Here is a refreshingly adult romance. The Beekeeper’s Daughter is the story of two people who have maturity and yet find love in a place neither expected and in the midst of some changing circumstances in their lives.

Will Jennings is a Newark firefighter who was injured trying to save a few people in a fire. The horrors of the fire and the injuries have precipitated his retirement. He decides to see what else is out in the world and he is on a “road trip” in his camper van. He comes to North Carolina on his travels to see an apiary that he had heard about years ago. He has scars on his skin and a few in his head.

Annie Collins is the daughter of the owner of Ambrosia Apiary, a beehive of activity (pardon the pun). The Apiary supplies honey to local stores and a few chains. They are small but have over 230 hives in the area. Annie’s father is older and now has to have hip replacement surgery. Annie returned home about a year ago to help and now finds herself having to decide whether to keep the business or not. Annie hires Will as a helper while her father is recuperating and she is making some tough choices.

Annie and Will immediately hit it off and find they like each other. Will is drawn to the community. He is enlisted to help the local volunteer fire department when he stumbles across a barn fire. A sub plot involves an apparent arsonist, Will, and a neighbor of Annie’s. This subplot is a nice addition to the story and helps to define Will’s character.

Annie meanwhile has a drama of her own. When she was in college 13 years ago, she became pregnant following a one-night stand and gave up her daughter for adoption. The child is now seeking a chance to meet her. Complicating matters is the fact that this occurred right after Annie’s mother died, so she received help from her aunt and her father is not aware of the pregnancy. Annie must wrestle with her feelings and evaluate her choices on many levels.

Annie and Will work well together and are refreshingly mature in how they handle their relationship, their feelings and their individual crises. Despite the potential for emotionally-laden scenes, they dealt with life realistically. When Annie got a letter from her daughter, she cried on Will’s shoulder, and then went on with her business. When Will has to confront fighting a fire for the first time, he acknowledges his fear, then goes about the tasks he needs to do. These two people deal with life head-on while acknowledging their burgeoning feelings for each other. Their relationship proceeds slowly and reasonably despite a relatively short time line in the story.

The background of the apiary provided a nice education about bees and honey making. It added a dimension to the tale without making it seem like a documentary. The Beekeeper’s Daughter is an entertaining story written for adults who like to see adults in love. Since both Will nor Annie are in their thirties, the story offers maturity in the character’s actions and thinking that is a refreshing change from the angst of many twenty-something romances. I highly recommend it.

--Shirley Lyons

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