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Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm (Once in a…

Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm (Once in a Lifetime)

by Rebecca Raisin

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I have received a copy of this book from NetGalley/Carina UK for an honest review. "Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm" by Rebecca Raisin is a sweet read with wonderful supporting characters. I love the people and the little town of Ashford. This is Lucy and Clay's story.

Lucy has dropped everything in her life to care for her sick mother and works doubles in a crappy diner. Her mother talks her into leaving for a year. Lucy starts off in her adventure knowing she will need to work somewhere to save up money to continue on her adventure. She winds up in the little of Ashford which is where she meets Clay.

As Clay and Lucy get to know each other the attraction grows. Their romance is really sweet and their intimate scenes are pretty much closed door. There are no graphic details, but you still feel the chemistry between them.

The story is about Lucy and Clay, growing not only as a couple but as individuals. You get to know the supporting characters plus a secret is unfolded. A great heartwarming read! Grab a cup of coffee or tea and sit back and escape to the little town of Ashford.
https://booksnuggle.wordpress.com/ ( )
  booksnuggle | Dec 5, 2015 |
Secrets at the Maple Syrup Farm is a standalone book, but does contains characters from Rebecca Raisin’s previous series, The Gingerbread Café and The Little Bookshop on the Corner. Fans will be delighted to get further sneak peeks into the lives of CeeCee and Lil, with a brief glimpse or two of Sarah. This book introduces two new main characters into the world of Ashford, Lucy and Clay. Lucy comes to Ashford with a sad history. Her mum is sick, but has asked Lucy to go away and have a year of fun. At home, Lucy and her mum live an existence restricted by doctor’s bills and lack of money. Lucy is a talented artist, but works as a waitress to make ends meet. Lucy’s mum knows that’s no life for a young lady and Lucy reluctantly leaves home with two instructions: to have fun and to consider applying for an art scholarship.

The bus takes Lucy to Ashford and of course, she’s sitting beside the most beloved character of The Gingerbread Café, CeeCee. It’s not long before Lucy is part of the community – taking cooking lessons from Lil and joining in the fun with the female characters. Only her work remains a mystery – Clay has recently inherited the Maple Syrup Farm but he’s a strange character. Sometimes open and warm, sometimes cold and forbidding – who is this man and why is he this way? What’s more important is why Lucy is so desperate to find out – could there by something more?

I enjoyed this light read, especially meeting Lil and CeeCee again – they feel like old friends. A glimpse of Lil’s baking always inspires me to try new creations in the kitchen again! I didn’t connect as much with Lucy though. I felt sorry for the hardships in her life, but she seemed a bit up and down to me – just as I thought I was learning something about her, she would run away again. In a sense, it was similar to the frustration Lucy felt with Clay, who was a hard person to get to know too! I was also desperate to know what was wrong with Lucy’s mother (her illness is not defined until the end of the book) – call me nosy, but I would have felt more comfortable knowing what was wrong before Lucy left her, despite her mum’s urgings. I wasn’t too sure if what Lucy was doing was completely cold hearted or if her mum’s illness was long and chronic.

Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm also has a more serious tone than Rebecca Raisin’s previous books. I think I was expecting the sparkle that radiates off CeeCee and Lil as they make magical creations, but of course Lucy needs to come to Ashford to develop her sparkle. She doesn’t sparkle from the start because of the sadness in her life. Clay too needs the healing powers of Ashford to grow in confidence again. The way the pair grow as characters is lovely to see. As this is a longer book, there are more twists and turns that previous – some easy to see the outcome, some are completely blind! I think this book shows promise that Rebecca Raisin can write about serious issues and tackle them sensitively. I look forward to reading more of what she has to offer us readers!

Thank you to Rebecca Raisin for the eARC. My review is honest.

http://samstillreading.wordpress.com ( )
  birdsam0610 | Aug 1, 2015 |
Secrets of Maple Syrup Farm by Rebecca Raisin is a 2015 Carina UK publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and author via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

As sad as I was to say goodbye to the wonderful folks at the Gingerbread Cafe, I couldn't wait to see what new adventures Rebecca Raisin had in story for us.

This new book is centered around Lucy, a young woman who has put her dreams on hold in order to care for her chronically ill mother. But, when her mother begs her to take a year off and travel, and apply to a prestigious art school in order to start lining out her future, Lucy is torn, but she can't say no to what could be her mother's dying wish. So, arrangements are made with Lucy's aunt, a woman who is estranged from Lucy's mother, but who promises to step up and take care of her while Lucy is away.

The deal was for Lucy to hop on the first bus she comes to and let the adventure work it's way out according to the way fate would have it... and wouldn't you know, Lucy meets a woman on the bus named Cee Cee, who tells her all about a Maple farm in Ashford, Connecticut, and a young man named Clay who recently inherited the farm and is in dire need of help....

While I loved the light and cozy stories of the Gingerbread Cafe, I would have to say this author really outdid herself with this one.

Only a few minor complaints, mainly that a few areas of the story were not explained in full or glossed over and not fleshed out enough, such as the malady Lucy's mom suffered from.

Other than that, the characters literally come to life and the story is so touching and sweet, I found myself checking my supply of tissues.

Clay is closed off, more stubborn than a mule, cynical, and obviously hurt and bitter. At times he had me so frustrated I felt like Lucy did and wanted to hit him over the head with a baseball bat. But, of course we know he must have been raked over the coals in the past to have become so disillusioned about love, and to have lost all his faith in humanity.

Lucy, is a delightful character full of courage and hope, but also has her secrets and insecurities. I loved watching her chisel away at Clay's stone like exterior a little at a time. Her enthusiasm and optimism is in stark contrast to Clay's personality, but it seems it might be catching, as Clay seems incapable of holding on to his stoicism when she is in his presence, although he certainly fights her every step of the way.

The side story of a set of journals Lucy unearths, apparently written by Clay's uncle, the man he inherited the farm from, tells of a tragic love story, epic in the tradition of Romeo and Juliet as it ended without a traditional happy ever after, but the man's deep love for his lost lover was such an inspiration for Lucy as she saw in him a kindred spirit.

“I closed the journal, running a hand along it's cover. 'Most people would die to find a love like he describes.

“Was it worth it though? He spent the rest of his life missing her.”

“How could he not get it?” Clay obviously didn't feel love as deeply.

“ Of course it was! Because he loved her with everything: his soul, his heart, his body. She was his world, so the real world faded to black. Don't you see? He found another kind of beauty here. And he could see her here. He wasn't hiding , he was seeking salvation the only way he knew how.”

“ He loved her fiercely, he couldn't function without her. He's a hero, really. A proper real life hero, who worshiped a woman above all else”.

The mystery surrounding Clay's uncle and his sketches added a surprising twist to the story and touched Clay and Lucy personally.

The procedure of making maple syrup was fascinating, and I enjoyed learning about this process. It was also a delight to touch base with Cee Cee and Lil and I enjoyed the occasional forays into the Gingerbread cafe.

This story is a tiny bit edgier than previous books by this author, as she adds in some real conflict and evokes a stronger emotional response in the reader, but still holds true to the magical atmosphere we have come to love surrounding Ashford, Connecticut. The writing is crisp and sharp, the characters well defined, and the story is warm and inspiring. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to romance lovers of all kinds.

4.5 stars ( )
  gpangel | Jul 14, 2015 |
Secrets at Maple Sugar Farm by Rebecca Raisin pub date 7-17-15

Lucy, 28, and her mother live in Detroit and have always been travelers; on to the next adventure until her mother became ill. As her mother lays in a hospital bed she has a request she makes of Lucy, a promise Lucy does not want to make, but must for hers mothers peace of mind. The request is for Lucy to quit her job, get on the first bus out town without looking at the destination, and spend a year working and saving money; she then wants Lucy to apply to the Van Gogh Institute of Paris for an art scholarship. Lucy is a bundle of nerves, how can she do this-leave her mother-never, no money, no way to pay her critically ill mothers and her bills, and she doesn’t considerate herself talented enough for the art institute. The promise she makes her mother is breaking her in pieces, but deep inside she felt a spark. So begins Lucy’s adventure.

Lucy’s journey ends in Ashford, Connecticut home of the Maple Sugar Farm and the town hard to leave, according to CeCe, a passenger on the bus. Small town USA is a wonderful place. She directed to the café, the B and B and a job with Clay at the syrup farm. Everyone is kind, warm, helpful except Clay the Hunk with a capital H. No one knows why Clay avoids everyone in town and stays at the run down farm inherited from his Uncle Jessup. The town’s people say the ghost of the former owner, Jessup, haunts the farm and walks through the orchard of maple tree he loved so much. Clay and Lucy snark and bite at one another constantly, but Lucy will not give up, she must have the money from this job. Attraction is burning brightly. Ms. Raisin created a wonderful story full of mysteries on the farm from ghost, Lucy’s mother what is she hiding from Lucy, from hidden journals to paintings, small town values, small town gossip, small town caring, strong characters, an old love story that consumed one person, the mystery of what happened to Clay to close himself off, two main characters fighting love, and a plot that was interesting from start to finish with twist and turns. The pacing was good and moved at just the right pace. I loved watching Lucy and Clay grow in character, love, and solve the mysteries of the farm and Jessup.

This is a story of separation, healing, growth, letting go and living life, realizing dreams, acceptance, commitment, and love. There is so much emotion in this book from the heights of happiness to the depths of despair and sadness. I cried at one point in the story and laughed in others.

I recommend this book and give it 5 stars, it is a wonderful story well written. There is a very small amount of sex, nothing explicit, nothing descriptive and handled wonderfully by Ms. Raisin. I look forward to Ms. Raisin’s next book.

I received this book from the publisher and Netgalley in return for an honest opinion.
  vera_mallard | Jul 10, 2015 |
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