The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen description:
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.
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.
This is a wonderfully whimsical story, with a hint of magic that makes anything possible, and a mystery to keep you turning pages late into the night. I loved the balance between Willa and Paxton. Willa is haunted by all the things she’s done in the past, while Paxton lives with the regrets of all the things she hasn’t done. And while this does deal with the two falling in love, this book is more about the power of friendship, about why it’s so important to be their for your friends, and how that relationship never has to fade away. It’s definitely not your average sort of novel. The thing I love most about Allen’s writing is that she doesn’t just give you this one story, she gives you a whole world in this town, but it never gets bogged down. She lets you see all these people and all the things that have led them here, and created them, and it really gets you involved in all of their lives. They become people you feel like you knew, and being from a small town I can definitely relate to this sort of world, though I wish we had the strange occurrences that happen there, would’ve been interesting. And while you don’t need to read Garden Spells before this, because it’s not tied into that series, some of the characters do show up. Which is another thing I love authors to do, to have their books all within this same world, which makes each story you read by them just suck you in even further.