The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh, published June 2014 by Tinder Press.
Read: January 2017
Genre: Adult Fiction/Romance/Contemporary
Get It Now: Wordery
Goodreads Synopsis: Each summer, Jenn and her husband Greg return to Deia, on Mallorca’s dramatic west coast. This year the arrival of Emma, Jenn’s stepdaughter, and her new boyfriend Nathan threatens to upset their equilibrium. Beautiful and reckless, Nathan stirs something unexpected in Jenn. As she is increasingly seduced by Nathan’s youth and the promise of passion, the line between desire and obsession begins to blur. What follows is a highly-charged liaison that puts lives and relationships in jeopardy. For Jenn, after this summer, nothing can ever be the same.
Well. That was disappointing.
When I first spotted this book two summers ago, the cover lured me in, enticing me with thoughts of Pina Coladas and illicit affairs. I finally indulged my inner fantasist and picked this up, looking forward to a short 288 pages of wanton women and sexy times. I was in for a bit of a shock, but not in a good way.
This book reads like it’s much more than its 288 pages. At times the writing felt… confused. The story takes a very long time to build, and when we finally get somewhere, I was left feeling underwhelmed. The blurb doesn’t mention the ages of the characters – Emma (the stepdaughter) is 15, and Nathan (the stepdaughter’s boyfriend, and cougar step-mum’s love interest) is just 17. This definitely puts a different spin on things, especially when you’re reading the sex scenes, or the moments when Jenn is jealous of her 15 year-old daughter’s relationship.
Nathan is written as being pretty conniving, but I had to wonder how many 17 year old boys would be that emotionally intelligent or savvy, especially when wooing an older woman. Who was really seducing who here – the teen or the older woman? If the genders were reversed, there would likely be a different answer.
I struggled with this read, often wanting to DNF it, but ultimately trudging through it to see how it was going to end, and hoping for a grand finale that never came. Overall, it was actually disturbing at times. That being said, there were a couple of searingly poignant and insightful quotes in the novel, which saved it from utter devastation.
“If only someone older and wiser had told her. Told her that, after a certain point in a woman’s life, her past becomes open to reevaluation. Once her flesh grows soft, once she gets married and has kids, once her allure dims, once that woman ceases to be a proposition, nobody cares what you were anyway. Nobody remembers.”
Have you read The Lemon Grove? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!