Summer in the Orchard by Fay Keenan

About the Author:

Fay Keenan was born in Surrey and raised in Hampshire, before finally settling back in the West Country. When Fay is not chasing her children around or writing, she teaches English at a local secondary school. She lives with her husband of fourteen years, two daughters, a cat, two chickens and a Weimaraner called Bertie in a village in Somerset, which may or may not have provided the inspiration for Little Somerby.

Follow Fay:
Twitter: @faykeenan
Facebook: @faykeenanauthor

About the book

Sophie Henderson loves her job at Carter’s Cider in the picturesque Somerset village of Little Somerby, but with summer dawning before yet another picking and pressing season, and her boss David showing no signs of wanting to hang up his cider jug, perhaps it is time to move on.

She’s all set to hand in her notice when Alex Fraser, an intern from Vancouver, comes to Little Somerby to learn everything he can about the cider business. With Sophie as his mentor, attraction between them starts to grow alongside the apples.

For Alex, however, being in Little Somerby is about more than cider, and as the summer grows warmer, and his relationship with Sophie blossoms, can he find the courage to tell her the truth before it’s too late?

Fay Keenan’s charming, funny and deliciously romantic Little Somerby novels are sure to delight all fans of Jilly Cooper, Fern Britton and Katie Fforde.

‘Moving, funny, thoughtful and romantic. Bring on the next one!’ JENNY KANE.

Buy links
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My Review:

I was looking forward to the latest from Fay Keenan after having reviewed the ARC of Springtime at the Cider Kitchen (Little Somerby Book #2). Summer in the Orchard is a sweet romance and is book 3 in the series. We catch up with old characters and this book focuses around Sophie, the owner of Carter Cider, and Alex, who’s over from Canada and wanting to see how the company works to get an insight into changes to benefit his own.

They get on and sparks fly. But, he has a secret. but with very large-part cameos from brothers I enjoyed Matthew and Jonathan Carter (his brothers’) part in the story and Sophie’s grandmother Lily was lovely. Summer in the Orchard is feelgood, romantic realistic dramatic and enjoyable. I was intrigued to learn more about Somerset and the West Country and the visuals revealing landscape and customs were appreciated. Although I’m English and have been to Dorset and Devon as well as Cornwall a few times, Somerset is an unexplored county for me. I felt transported there by this book. It has such an easy relaxing pace and I finished it in no time. Now, I hope to review book 1 when I get a copy. I’m curious to see how the series started.

I enjoyed book 2.and 3 very much. I’d love to see more from Fay Keenan.

Thanks to Fay Keenan and Aria for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review and my slot on the blog tour for this title. My second book by Fay Keenan. 4 stars

Read an Excerpt from the Book:

Bloody hell… look at who’s just walked in with the boss.’
Sophie’s head snapped up at the exclamation from her colleague, Laura. She’d been busy on the filtration floor all morning since she’d returned from Churchwell School, and was, momentarily, lost in the world of tannins, timings and taste. ‘What? Who is it?’ She checked the pressures on the batch of cider she was currently testing and then turned to where Laura was none too subtly indicating with a thumb on her hip. Striding across the filtration floor was Matthew Carter, and alongside him was a tall, dark and extremely handsome stranger. Dressed in mid-washed blue jeans, a white T-shirt and an unbuttoned checked shirt over the top, he was the same height as Matthew, and just as broad. Sophie tried not to notice the slightly bowed knees on endless legs, muscular arms and lean torso, and the friendly smile that seemed to rest on all who crossed his path. Bloody hell indeed, she thought as the two men drew closer.
David, her boss, crossed the floor from the other direction as the two men approached. Shaking hands with the new arrival, he motioned to Sophie to join them. Ignoring Laura’s jealous look, she did so.
‘Sophie, I’d like you to meet Alex Fraser,’ Matthew said as she approached. ‘David’s suggested that you mentor him during his summer internship, since he’d like to learn about the various Somerset bred apples we press here.’
Alex held out his hand, and Sophie took it. His grip was warm and firm, and she liked the way he looked her straight in the eye. ‘It’s nice to meet you, Sophie.’
‘You too.’ Ah, yes, of course, now Sophie remembered the conversation about taking on an intern. She’d been so preoccupied with giving the talk to the sixth form about apprenticeships that she’d forgotten that she and David would be taking on an intern for the summer. The internship had been advertised separately from the more highly paid apprenticeships, and was from late June until the end of September. Sophie had been expecting some spotty schoolkid, who, doubtless, would spend more time looking at his or her phone than actually learning the ropes. She certainly hadn’t been expecting this handsome stranger, who, from the sound of that accent, had come from a little further afield than the local secondary school.
‘Alex has come over from Vancouver to see how our native Somerset apples could be mixed with Canadian varieties,’ Matthew continued. ‘I think it would be good for him to learn about our business from the ground up, so he’ll be working with various people during his time with us, but mainly with you and David, to really get a feel for how to blend and taste. I’m hoping, in the long term, that we might learn from each other.’ He turned from Sophie and David back to Alex. ‘I’ll leave you in Sophie and David’s capable hands for now, Alex. I hope you’ll have a really productive and enjoyable time here. Don’t be afraid to seek me or my brother Jonathan, out if you have any questions.’
‘Thank you,’ Alex said, smiling at Matthew. They shook hands and Matthew departed, leaving Alex, Sophie and David on the floor.
‘So, what brings you to Carter’s Cider?’ Sophie asked as the three of them walked back to where she had been mixing. ‘It’s a long way to come for a minimum wage internship!’
Alex smiled. ‘I’ve just bought a cider business in a town outside Vancouver, and before I can really get going, I wanted to learn how best to get it on its feet. Carter’s came up as the place to learn about English apples, since they’re the best in the world for cider. I’ve learnt a lot about the native Canadian varieties, but I want to produce an original Anglo-Canadian blend that would be a real selling point back home.’
Sophie smiled. ‘What about French varieties? We’ve got one or two from across the Channel that we incorporate into our blends, and surely there must be plenty that came over to Canada with the French settlers?’
‘Oh, of course,’ Alex said hurriedly. ‘But they’re mostly used in Quebec, where conditions are a little different. I’m really looking for something English that I can use that’s robust enough to withstand a Vancouver winter.’
‘Well, you’ve come to the right place,’ Sophie said. She could already hear the enthusiasm in Alex’s voice for his project. She knew that artisan cideries were springing up all over the place, so she wasn’t surprised that Carter’s Cider was getting international interest; they were one of the biggest brands in the UK, after all. ‘If you’re going to learn about English apples, this is definitely the place to be. It’s just a shame Jack Carter’s no longer with us – Matthew and Jonathan Carter’s dad. He knew absolutely everything there was to know about growing apples.’
‘So I’ve heard,’ Alex said. His tone was light, but Sophie noticed he bit his lip as he replied; he must be pretty nervous about being here and want to make a good impression.
‘There’ll be a lot to take in,’ she continued, ‘so don’t be surprised if your head is spinning by the end of the day!’
The two began to walk over to the exit of the filtration floor, towards the main yard where the apple baths were housed. ‘Have you always been into cider?’ Sophie asked as they walked, before bursting out laughing. ‘I’m sorry, that was a stupid way to put it. I mean, what makes you want to run a cidery?’
‘I wanted a change of direction,’ Alex said as they emerged blinking into the strong early summer sunlight. ‘I am… I mean, I was, a lawyer before making this change, but I’ve always wanted to do something more creative. When the orchard came up for sale near to where my parents lived, I thought it was a great chance to change direction.’
‘And what do they think about it? Your parents?’ Sophie asked.
Alex paused for a split second before replying. ‘My mom died at the end of last year, but I think she’d have really liked the idea. My stepdad’s been really supportive but he’s not in great health himself.’
Sophie’s heart lurched. ‘I’m sorry to hear that,’ she said.
‘Thanks.’ Alex shook his head and then smiled slightly. ‘Mom was really fond of the area where she lived, so I think she’d like it that I’m making a go of something new there. But if I am going to make it work, I need a crash course in cider blending! There’s quite a difference between producing a few bottles at home and scaling that up, or so I’m led to believe, so I’m looking forward to learning a lot from Carter’s – and you.’
‘We can guarantee you that here.’ Sophie replied, relieved that the conversation was moving on. ‘You’ll have plenty of ideas to take back with you.’ She glanced at her schedule for the day on her iPad. At this time of year, when the cider business was gearing up for the first pressings at the end of the summer, it was all about planning ahead. ‘Shall we get started?’
‘Sure,’ Alex replied. He seemed to hold her gaze a little too long, and Sophie felt her cheeks growing warm. She made it a rule never to fancy anyone at work, and for ten years she had stuck to it; workplace romances were just too awkward, in her opinion. She’d seen Laura’s devastation when she’d split up with her last boyfriend, who still worked in the cannery, and she didn’t want to get involved with someone she’d be forced to see every day if things went wrong. After her heartache over Mark, too, she was on her guard even more. There was no doubting that Alex was attractive, though.

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