I was gifted what I have started to affectionately call the “Sarah Addison Allen starter kit” a few months ago. These books had been sitting on my physical TBR shelf for far longer than I care to admit. As soon as I dove into The Sugar Queen (check out my review here), I knew I was a goner. I simply had to read the rest. I allowed my TBR jar to decide which came next, and, to my delight, it landed on The Peach Keeper.
Our story is set in Walls of Water, North Carolina, where we meet Willa Jackson. Her well-to-do family fell into financial ruin generations ago after its greatest legacy, The Blue Ridge Madam, lost its luster after a series of scandalous and unfortunate events. Willa’s family had something of a strange and brooding reputation that she desperately tried to step out of. Unbeknownst to her, a former classmate, Paxton Osgood, from a well-to-do family in good standing, has turned her sights on the Madam, hoping to return it to its former glory. The Madam house proves to have one last scandal buried beneath its peach tree, sending the duo on a hunt for the truth. Along the way, they unearth terrible secrets, find unlikely friendship, and stumble their way into their own equally unlikely romances.
What I love most about Allen’s writing is that she captures the essence of the south so beautifully. There are layers to the scenes she paints, transporting her readers through time and space to the sweltering heat of southern summers. She creates characters who are layered—flawed but lovable. I felt for Willa in her pursuit of becoming more than just her family name. And I felt for Paxton, who felt the crippling weight of legacy and expectation pressing down on her from every angle.
While this book is a romance, I found the blossoming love stories between Willa and Colin and Paxton and Sebastian to be almost secondary to the overarching plot. Don’t get me wrong, I rooted for them all the way through, but I was far more enchanted by the mysteries as they unraveled.
That all being said—and I’m sorry, friends, but this is a spoiler—I wasn’t very much keen on Sebastian’s sexuality arc. It’s assumed that he’s gay, as Paxton once witnessed him kissing a boy when they were in school. While Allen attempted to navigate these tricky waters by wagging a finger about assumptions surrounding male sexuality, I can’t help but wish things were handled differently.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Sarah Addison Allen has become a “feel-good” author for me, and I am greatly looking forward to reading more of her works.
Have you read anything from Sarah Addison Allen? What’s your favorite? Let me know in the comment section down below!
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