2015 Book 27: FIRST FROST Review

First Frost (Waverley Family #2) by Sarah Addison Allen
ISBN: 9781250019837 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250019844 (ebook)
ASIN: B00LDQXASE (Kindle edition)
Publication date: January 20, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

From the New York Times bestselling author of Garden Spells comes a story of the Waverley family, in a novel as sparkling as the first dusting of frost on new-fallen leaves…

It’s October in Bascom, North Carolina, and autumn will not go quietly. As temperatures drop and leaves begin to turn, the Waverley women are made restless by the whims of their mischievous apple tree…and all the magic that swirls around it. But this year, first frost has much more in store.

Claire Waverley has started a successful new venture, Waverley’s Candies. Though her handcrafted confections—rose to recall lost love, lavender to promote happiness and lemon verbena to soothe throats and minds—are singularly effective, the business of selling them is costing her the everyday joys of her family, and her belief in her own precious gifts.

Sydney Waverley, too, is losing her balance. With each passing day she longs more for a baby— a namesake for her wonderful Henry. Yet the longer she tries, the more her desire becomes an unquenchable thirst, stealing the pleasure out of the life she already has.

Sydney’s daughter, Bay, has lost her heart to the boy she knows it belongs to…if only he could see it, too. But how can he, when he is so far outside her grasp that he appears to her as little more than a puff of smoke?

When a mysterious stranger shows up and challenges the very heart of their family, each of them must make choices they have never confronted before. And through it all, the Waverley sisters must search for a way to hold their family together through their troublesome season of change, waiting for that extraordinary event that is First Frost.

Lose yourself in Sarah Addison Allen’s enchanting world and fall for her charmed characters in this captivating story that proves that a happily-ever-after is never the real ending to a story. It’s where the real story begins.

Welcome back to Bascom, North Carolina, home to the mystical Waverley family. Claire is married and has a daughter. Prior to her marriage to Tyler, her reputation as a caterer was set, but Claire has veered away from catering and is now making candies. Sydney has purchased the hair salon and has married Henry. Both sisters have seen their dreams fulfilled with careers, loving spouses, and a great family, yet both are yearning for something more. While the family eagerly awaits “first frost” (a truly magical time for the Waverley family), a stranger comes to town. What does his visit mean for the Waverleys in general and for Claire specifically?

Claire is happily married. She’s also happy that her daughter doesn’t appear to have any of the Waverley magic. Claire’s previous catering business was beloved by all around Bascom. Her candy business is just as beloved, but is more time-consuming and emotionally draining than she had thought possible. In Garden Spells, Claire was unsure of herself but knew that her Waverley magic was found in food and the flowers she incorporated into her cooking. After finding one of her grandmother’s cookbooks filled with candy recipes, Claire starts making candies using Waverley flowers. Claire is lost and foundering with this new business. She doesn’t have time to cook for her family and is no longer taking an active role in her daughter’s extracurricular activities. 

Sydney’s magic is in hairstyling. She is no longer the pariah in Bascom, but a successful business woman and happily married to Henry. The only thing that Sydney yearns for is a child, preferably a son. Her desire for another child even has her latching onto the child of her receptionist. Sydney’s focus is so centered on her desires that she misses out on what is going on with her daughter Bay. Bay has always known where everything belongs, and she knows that she belongs with Josh Matteson . . . yes that’s the son of Hunter John Matteson, Sydney’s high school beau.

First Frost is another delightful read from Ms. Allen. This return to Bascom and the Waverleys answers questions that many readers had about Claire, Sydney, Bay, and Evanelle, and raised a few more. This time around Claire is questioning whether she has any Waverley magic and if she is truly a Waverley. Sydney is so caught up in her own desire for a child that she has missed quite a bit of what is going on with the child she already has. Evanelle is still living with Fred, but she is suffering declining health and has passed her Waverley magic of knowing what someone needs onto Fred. I found First Frost to be a fast-paced read. The primary characters are the female members of the Waverley family, but the reader is also given insight into the mysterious stranger visiting Bascom. Who is this stranger and what does he have to do with the Waverleys? Does Claire find the answers she’s seeking? Will Sydney be able to give Henry a son? Does Bay get the boy she wants? I could answer those questions for you, but I’ll simply say this . . . grab a copy of First Frost to read and find the answers for yourself. If you haven’t already read Garden Spells, grab a copy of that and read it before you read First Frost. If you’ve already read Garden Spells, then you’ll definitely want to get your copy of First Frost.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book 137: THE PEACH KEEPER Review

I’ve been doing a lot of reading and reviewing for various review sites and decided to take a few hours to read a book from my personal TBR stash. Tonight’s choice was The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen…

Everyone has secrets but this secret is in the form of a body buried beneath a tree. The residents of Walls of Water, North Carolina are being forced to deal with their secrets. Willa Jackson is learning to accept who she is while acknowledging she never really knew or understood her grandmother or even her father. Her grandmother is in a nursing home suffering from Alzheimer’s and her father died a tragic death several years earlier. She always felt that she let them both down but is now learning that these feelings were caused by her own feelings of inadequacy. Just as Willa is learning to cope with who she is and what she wants out of life, Paxton Osgood is learning that she doesn’t have to live up to other peoples or even her parents’ expectations. Her twin brother Colin is learning that is okay to go home again.

The Peach Keeper appears to be a story of self discovery and acceptance as well as a discovery into the importance of friendship. Willa and Paxton discover just how far two friends are willing to go for one another when learning about their grandmothers’ pasts. It is through this process that they learn to cherish one another and the value of true friendship. Sarah Addison Allen has imbued The Peach Keeper with a sense of whimsy and intrigue while providing a captivating reading experience. For those readers that loved Garden Spells, you’ll be happy to note that Claire Waverley and her niece Bay make a cameo appearance. For me this was simply a book that I couldn’t put down once I started reading. I ignored phone calls (isn’t that why we have voice mail?) just so I could finish reading The Peach Keeper uninterrupted. This is the perfect book for a lazy weekend or evening reading session, but you may want to turn the ringer off your phones so you can enjoy it without interruptions.