As I write this, Jeffrey Stepakoff is celebrating the debut of The Orchard at FoxTale Book Shoppe in Woodstock, GA. It is planned to be a fantastic celebration, and I hate that I couldn’t be there.
With The Orchard – as with Fireworks over Toccoa – Stepakoff has ensured that the local details are recognizable to the residents. He uses familiar restaurants, street-scapes, and even grocery stores to draw in a certain segment of his readers. So those who know Buckhead, mid-town, the Atlanta interstates and the north Georgia apple country will immediately feel at home.
Once there, while the narrative actually only fills the space of several days, the pace is as a nice, leisurely walk – not unlike a stroll through an orchard as the cover suggests. Along the way Stepakoff tells a sweet romance between a highly driven perfume/aroma specialist known for playing tough when stakes are high (Grace), and an equally driven apple farmer who is also willing to roll the dice when everything is on the line (Dylan). They find that they are both passionate about the same fruit and see it as the key to their future.
But before the passion of the fruit can move to each other, Dylan must put aside the ghosts of the past and decide that he’s willing to focus on the future. And, Grace has her own past to claim in order to come to grips with why she’s so determined to make the future hers.
Once again, Stepakoff’s background in writing for television compliments how he crafts these scenes. Over and over I kept seeing the action, thinking how beautiful the story would play out visually.
Until then, if you love a sweet romance (and especially if you happen to hail from Georgia) you will delight in this read. Tomorrow I’ll be contacting the five lucky winners who will soon have one arriving in the mail!
Finally, cheers, Jeffrey – here’s to a fantastic tour! If you want to see Jeffrey on tour, here’s a list of the events scheduled so far.
An advance readers copy of The Orchard was provided to me by Cherie at St. Martin’s Press.
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