Promises Under the Peach Tree by Joanne Rock

Promises Under the Peach Tree by Joanne RockPromises Under the Peach Tree by Joanne Rock

Series: #1 Heartache TN
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Harlequin Super Romance on September 1, 2014
Pages: 381
Format: eARC
Source: Book Tour Provided
    add to goodreads
four-stars      three-half-flames

I’ve been wanting to give this author a try for so long particularly after I read such favorable reviews of her books from time to time. I saw the opportunity and the blurb sounded good so I requested it. Second chance + small town + romance, love the sound of that!

The story begins when Nina Spencer returns to her hometown after eight years away. She never planned to come back, but with her Gram’s failing health and her own failed business, she needs a place to lick her wounds and regroup. She left under a black cloud of mixed feelings of guilt, heartbreak, and sense of betrayal. After being left with her Gram by her parents when they divorced and went their separate ways and then thinking she found forever love with Mack Finley only to have him refuse to leave home and come with her, left her in quite a state. Now it’s time to face up to her past including Mack.

Mack has avoided his hometown for years by moving an hour away to Nashville and opening his business there. Well truthfully, he left his mother and her drama behind. He loves her and for years he and his siblings lived with a woman with bi-polar issues, but after losing his best friend in a car crash and then the girl he loves leaves him behind, he just wants out. But now, his older brother needs his help on the town harvest festival. Scott’s losing his marriage much like Mack lost his, Mack’s niece is suffering under the turmoil of her parents’ fighting, and he knows he needs to be there for his mom. Nothing prepared him for the return of Nina, the one that got away.

Mack and Nina have a lot water under the bridge and it isn’t easy as they work through it. They aren’t even sure they should try, but old feelings flame back to life and they are left with feelings of longing even knowing that Nina wants a family and Mack will never have one for fear that his mother’s disorder will be passed on. So they take what they have while guarding their hearts and work hard to make this the best harvest festival the town has seen.

Meanwhile, another story of young love and a troubled girl brews in the background. Will she find the love and support she needs to keep her from running away?

Alright, so this one was an emotional story that touched on some deep themes: mental health disorder, divorce, separation, death, guilt, abandonment. I like it when an author takes challenging elements like that and instills hope, healing, and love. The story was gently paced and was more character driven. The narration was from alternating Mack, Nina, and Ally’s points of view.

Now, when I first started reading, I was afraid that I got something else. That something else being a whole latta drama. I’m not a fan of romance with a huge side of angst and I don’t care for characters that whip up the drama. Nina started out that way for me, but then I realized that this was exactly the flaw in her character that would be the area of growth. Nina, by running away from her problems, left herself in limbo as the years passed. She made good when she left by finishing college and starting up a successful cupcake business, but she did it by not dealing with her past. On her return, she was bristly with blame and in full defense mode jumping to conclusions and ready to rumble. Coming back forced her to see that her take on the past was that of an immature and hurting teenage girl who was the center of her own universe. She wanted to throw all the blame on Mack and his mother and her own parents for all her troubles. Now, hearing the other side of the story and seeing everything through adult eyes, she is finally able to gain perspective and heal.

Mack, too, had some arrested growth going on even though in most ways he was more grounded than Nina back in the day because of all he had to go through with his mother. He chose not to runaway physically, but he had his own way of protecting himself by pulling away from his family and only being in relationships on his terms. It was neat seeing him come home to see that his mother had better help with modern medicine and that Ally, his niece, wasn’t going to be the mess that his mother was since she had so many more opportunities and help.

And, alongside Mack and Nina’s story was Ally’s story. She is a teenage girl who is slowly realizing that she has bi-polar disorder like her grandmother. It scares her since she is isolated and without friends to talk to including her parents who are too busy ripping their marriage apart. Her grandmother is her lodestone, but now when she needs her most, her grandmother is struggling, too. Ally has a crush on Ethan and he is all that is good in her life until she thinks he is with another girl. The blow crushes her and sends her over the edge so that now others can see what she has kept hidden. She just wants to run away and get away from it all. I felt like the author did a wonderful job of not only writing a teenage perspective, but one of a girl struggling with mental health issues and the falling apart of her family.

I wasn’t expecting all these elements in this story, but was glad to have them. I was also tickled to have the fall harvest festival going on in the background. It’s a perfect fall read and has me craving some of Nina’s baking, the chance to dance to one of Mack’s up and coming bands, walk Ally’s maze, go on a hayride, carve a pumpkin, and enjoy BBQ at the local hangout while visiting with some of the folks of Heartache, Tennessee.

I look forward to more from this series and would easily recommend the book to those who love a spicy small town second chance contemporary romance.

My thanks to Lola’s Blog Tours for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

Romance Roundabout #356 CR

New to Me #176

Cliché Klatch #216 ‘you have to put in the work’

About Joanne Rock

Three-time RITA nominee Joanne Rock turned a passion for writing into a career when imaginary characters kept her awake at night, demanding she tell their stories. An optimist by nature and perpetual seeker of silver linings, Joanne finds romance fits her life outlook perfectly–love is worth fighting for.

Joanne recently discovered a new creative joy in co-authoring, penning a Young Adult series as J.K. Rock with her sister in law, Karen, and– more recently—writing the Runaway Bride series with her long time critique partner Catherine Mann. She is continually excited to find new ways to spark creativity and maintain the fun in writing.

The following two tabs change content below.
I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.

Latest posts by Sophia Rose (see all)

  • That is so cool with the Fall Harvest. I love small town events like that. I’m with you on the angst and drama. The real world if rife with it, I sure don’t want it in my books too

    • The setting was adorable with the small town and the harvest festival. And whew, so glad it didn’t end up being loaded with the drama.

  • Debbie Haupt

    Great review Sophia Rose, second chance romances are my favorite and I love that sweet cover. Thanks!

    • Very adorable story and the cover is so appealing, Debbie!

  • I’m also not a fan of drama-filled romances, so I’m glad this one worked out even with a bit of drama there at the beginning.

    • Yep, I got a little nervous, but then things settled down to the usual amount of conflict I like in a romance. 🙂

  • I’m so, so, sooooo glad you approved of this book girl! It just gave me some ideas for a new novel I’m going to write next year! I LOVE small town romances, PLUS the second chance love? COUNT ME IN! This one seems like it has a lot of themes and lots of emotions running high! I like drama in a romance, but not to the point where the plot loses focus and stuff, you know?

    • Oh hey! Yay, glad it gave you some inspiration. I’m with you- small town+second chance and just a pinch of drama is the dreamy stuff.

  • I am currently reading a christmas themed romance book by this author. I am so glad you enjoyed this one! I like second chance romances and small town settings too and really enjoyed that about this book. I liked seeing these two get back to their hoemtown for their own reasons and bump in each other and work things out. I thought the second plot of the teenager worked really well.

    I like how you describe Nina her personality and growth and how you mention “On her return, she was bristly with blame and in full defense mode jumping to conclusions and ready to rumble.” I think you’re right that is the place where she grows and finally is able to hear the whole story through a adult perspective gives her the perspective to heal.

    I thought it was impressive how the author handled some more haveay issues in this book and also made for a great romance. I really enjoyed this book and thought it was very well written. The fall and small town setting made for a fun backdrop for the story. Great review Sophia! I hope you’ll enjoy the sequel just as much! And this reminds me I really need to buy a copy of the third book soon as I still haven’t read that one.

    • Yowsa! I thought she was going to be a drama queen the way her mind was whirling with issues from the past, but then she took a deep breath and looked around to see that her perspective had definitely been flawed and one-sided. I loved seeing her process all that and start to heal and mature.
      And yes, those deep issues that were brought in really gave depth to a cute, adorable small town romance story.
      I’ve got book two up for one of my January cozy reads. Hope book three is good for you. 🙂

  • It sounds good 🙂

  • I have yet to try out any of her books yet, though I have read great things about her series with Karen. Great review!

    • So hard to get to all the books that sound so good. This was my first one and I’ve been hearing good stuff about the others, too. Thanks, Lekeisha!

  • I love the fall harvest backdrop to the story 🙂

    • It was nicely done. It was there and part of the fun, but stayed in the background of the story. Love the theme, too, Kimberly!