The Peach Keeper, by Sarah Addison Allen. The summary (it's a bit of a novel in and of itself):
It’s the dubious distinction of thirty-year-old Willa Jackson to hail from a fine old Southern family of means that met with financial ruin generations ago. The Blue Ridge Madam—built by Willa’s great-great-grandfather during Walls of Water’s heyday, and once the town’s grandest home—has stood for years as a lonely monument to misfortune and scandal. And Willa herself has long strived to build a life beyond the brooding Jackson family shadow. No easy task in a town shaped by years of tradition and the well-marked boundaries of the haves and have-nots.What is there to say about "The Peach Keeper" besides I love it? 'Nuf said.
But Willa has lately learned that an old classmate—socialite do-gooder Paxton Osgood—of the very prominent Osgood family, has restored the Blue Ridge Madam to her former glory, with plans to open a top-flight inn. Maybe, at last, the troubled past can be laid to rest while something new and wonderful rises from its ashes. But what rises instead is a skeleton, found buried beneath the property’s lone peach tree, and certain to drag up dire consequences along with it.
For the bones—those of charismatic traveling salesman Tucker Devlin, who worked his dark charms on Walls of Water seventy-five years ago—are not all that lay hidden out of sight and mind. Long-kept secrets surrounding the troubling remains have also come to light, seemingly heralded by a spate of sudden strange occurrences throughout the town.
Now, thrust together in an unlikely friendship, united by a full-blooded mystery, Willa and Paxton must confront the dangerous passions and tragic betrayals that once bound their families—and uncover truths of the long-dead that have transcended time and defied the grave to touch the hearts and souls of the living.
Who am kidding? This is me talking about a book, so of course it's not 'nuf said. But seriously, you guys, I fell 100 percent in love with this book. And no, I'm not even going to try to be objective when talking about it. I mean, it's SARAH ADDISON ALLEN, for pete's sake. I love all her books whole-heartedly, and this one is no exception.
The best thing about Sarah Addison Allen books is how they make you feel--like you're laying outside in the grass on a perfect summer day; like you're talking to your best friend; like you're falling in love. ARGH! I can't even explain it. Just read one of Allen's books and you'll know what I mean.
"The Peach Keeper" doesn't deviate from the mold of Allen's other books, but I'm completely okay with that, because it's a fairly perfect mold made of warm-fuzzies and sugar-sweet romance and hints of magic. Sarah Addison Allen books top my list of comfort reads, and it's no mystery why.
Like I said, I can't be objective about this book. I can't focus on plot arcs and character development, because of how the book makes me feel. So I guess I'll just say that I didn't have any issues with the plot and the characters were lovely (I pretty much fell in love with Sebastian). I know that doesn't do the book justice AT ALL, but I don't know what else to say. Who cares about holes in the plot or insufficient character motivation when the book manages to take you to a world where the magic is both a little wistful and a little impish, the romance is filled with just the right amount of yearning, and the themes are all about growing up into who you want to become without completely leaving behind the person you were.
And yes, I did in fact read it straight through in one sitting.
Haven't you gotten my point yet? READ IT!
FYI, other books by Sarah Addison Allen:
-The Sugar Queen
-The Girl Who Chased the Moon