The Apple Orchard
Although I’m not certain of it, this book has the feel of a sequel. If so, you needn’t have read the previous book, but if this is true, I might go back and check it out for The Apple Orchard is filled with some very nice characters and I enjoyed my stay there quite a bit.
Dr. Abby MacKenzie is a psychologist who works with cops and others in high-stress occupations. Abby loves her job and her life, until the day everything changes. A cop who had accidentally killed a child has been seeing Abby, but, unable to get past his guilt, he commits suicide in Abby’s office. She shows up for work on Monday morning only to find her office splattered with blood and her patient dead. Now Abby has herself, become the victim of a high-stress occupation.
Unable to cope, feeling she must have missed something in her treatment of this man, and beset by flashbacks of the suicide scene, Abby is forced to take a 3-month sabbatical. She has a beloved aunt in New England, so she hits the road and heads for Aunt Maureen’s and Templeton Orchards, where she plans to pick apples all day in the hopes of wearing herself out enough that she’ll sleep like a rock at night. The nightmares are getting worse and it’s all Abby can do to deal with them.
Dr. Jake Templeton, a cardiologist, has problems of his own. His little girl, Stacey, has yet to recover from her mother’s death by car accident even though Jake has had the child seen by no fewer than four psychologists. When Abby arrives, he’s certain his mother has contrived to get yet another doctor to try to help his daughter, and he becomes angry. As time has passed, Stacey seems to be getting worse instead of better, and now she’s even pulling away from him. He doesn’t think another failed attempt to help her will do Stacey’s state-of-mind any good.
Jake tells Abby to stay away from Stacey, but the child is drawn to the woman and when Jake realizes Abby’s arrival might be a blessing in disguise, he agrees to let Abby give it a shot. After all, helping patients deal with post-traumatic stress is what Abby does, and she does it very well.
The story unfolds against the backdrop of a New England apple orchard in the fall. There are many family members who live and work at Templeton Orchards, and they are all realistically drawn and interesting. Jake loves his daughter and doesn’t want to see her hurt any more than she has been, so when Abby begins to make headway, his emotional upheaval is touching. While Jake is attracted to Abby, he doesn’t let himself get involved until he realizes that it’s time for him to move on as well. Jake and Abby fall in love easily and naturally.
The Apple Orchard is an uncomplicated story of complex emotions and the people who are trying to work through them. The dialogue is true-to-life, and the story well written. The only problem (if you can really call it that) was that the plot centers so much on Stacey. When the cover of a book shows the hero and his daughter, and no heroine in sight, you sort of have to figure the romance may take a back seat. I liked Jake very much and he and Abby were a good, solid match, so I would like to have had a little less of Stacey and a little more of Jake and Abby, but that’s just me. Readers who like family-centered stories may like this better than I did, and that would be great. Linda Barrett, whom I have not read before, is a talented writer who crafted a straight-forward story without any stereotypes or clichés.
It’s a very nice read, and I am happy to recommend U-pick The Apple Orchard.