A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Secrets of Maple Syrup Farm by Rebecca Raisin- Review and author interview + Giveaway!

Secrets...we all have them.

Clay’s inheritance of Maple Syrup Farm came at the perfect time. Leaving city life behind he headed for maple-tree surrounded Ashford, Connecticut. Getting the farm in working order again might be back breaking work – but it seems to be the only way for Clay to finally forget about the girl who once broke his heart…

Lucy’s had enough of rules and the stress of planning her life down to the very last detail. Looking for an adventure she stumbles upon Maple Syrup Farm and its gorgeously gruff owner. This could be the perfect place to hide out…!

But the tranquillity and warmth of Maple Tree Farm is enough to heal even the most battered of hearts. There are very few problems in life that can’t be cheered up by maple syrup!



What gave you the idea for Secrets of Maple Syrup Farm?

I was chatting with a guy who has read all of the Gingerbread Café story books, and he’d googled earthed the ‘real’ Ashford, the town where the books are set. It’s a lot more spread out than my fictional town, and is surrounded by these lush green meadows. We got to talking, and somehow through a street name, I think it as pumpkin something, I thought about doing a farm story. But I wanted it to be a pretty place, and a sweet process rather than a long, hard slog. I thought of maple syrup and researched it, and it was perfect! Connecticut is one of the places you can tap the trees for syrup, so it was fate! I thought of gorgeous maple leaves fluttering in the summertime, and a couple kissing under their canopy and knew I had found the right farm!

What do like most about being a writer?

I love being lost inside a fictional world, and forgetting the real world exists! It’s a great escape! With Secrets, I was so caught up in the rewrites and edits, and under time constraints so I was living and breathing it, and kept calling my partner Clay all the time! After the 37382399 time he was like, my name is not Clay… Whoops.

Who plays Lucy and Clay on the big screen?

Clay I imagined as Channing Tatum (tough job!) and Lucy I imagined Jennifer Lawrence.

Are you a plotter or a pantster?

I was a panster, but now I have to outline my books for my editor. So I am a bit of both. I do plot out the book but it does change as I write, and that’s the fun part, being pulled along by your characters!

What was your favorite book as a child?

I loved a book called Melissa’s Ghost by John Dugan. I must have read it a hundred times! I loved that the main character was new in town, and was out of sorts being a city kid. A ghost visits her every night, so she goes to the town library to research the old place, and work out who he is. There’s all these twists and turns, and for an eight year old, I was hooked! And I have never forgotten it! I found a copy on eBay for my boys, when they’re ready to read it.

Where can readers contact you?

I’m always son social media and would love to chat!

What are you working on now?

I’m almost finished The Little Bookshop on the Seine which is the follow up to The Bookshop on the Corner. I love Sarah, because she’s a total bookworm, and while reserved she has a wicked mind, and is fun to write!

Do you have a favorite quote you would like to share?

I like this description when Lucy first sees the farm. She’s an artist, so I imagined how she might look at the Maple Syrup Farm differently to me. I’d see a lot of work, but she sees beauty in everything.

The Maple Syrup Farm was, at best, a ramshackle mess. The front gate hung off its latch, creaking in the wind, pitching backward and forward like an invitation to enter. In the distance you could make out the cottage. Gnarly old vines twisted around porch posts as though they were slowly strangling them. Cottage windows were smashed, leaving only dirty shards of glass clinging to their perches. Mountains of junk had been abandoned across the land for so long that grass had grown over them. Odd sticks of wood protruded like arms in supplication. The decaying façade of the place was somehow compelling rather than confronting.”



Secrets at the Maple Syrup FarmSecrets at the Maple Syrup Farm by Rebecca Raisin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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.

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



Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm (Once in a Lifetime)

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Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She's been published in various short story anthologies and in in fiction magazines, and is now focusing on writing romance.

Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships, and most importantly believe in true love.

Come say hello to Rebecca on her Facebook page : https://facebook.com/RebeccaRaisinAuthor


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