Lost in Lavender
by Lise McClendon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Elise, the youngest of the five Bennett sisters, has come to a crossroads in her life and books a 10-day farm stay in Provence to work, clear her mind, and develop a new plan. She hates being a lawyer, has quit her job at the law firm, broken up with her boyfriend, Scott, and once older sister, Merle, drops her off at the lavender farm, goes incommunicado with all her family and friends.
However, rather than finding a place to contemplate the future and regroup, she finds herself living and working with a group of students 20 or more years younger than herself and an unknown crisis simmering beneath the calm surface of life at the farm. With minimal French language skills at her disposal, she soon finds herself socially-isolated and feeling very much alone.
There are a couple of bright spots in the works, though. One other worker who appears to be about her age is an Englishman named Conor. Good looking and helpful, he is somewhat friendly and helps get a bat out of her room on her first night at the farm. He turns out to be related to the owners of the farm. Then, she encounters Ari, a local man that immediately shows his interest and admiration. But there seems to be some bad blood between Ari and Conor that causes Elise to be completely ostracized at the farm.
Deciding she’s had enough of the drama, Elise accepts Ari’s offer to spend the rest of her holiday at his home near Aix-en-Provence – no strings attached. In fact, there are so few strings attached that after getting settled in at his place and having dinner with each other the first night, Ari takes off telling Elise and his housekeeper that he’ll return soon. But days pass, and there is no further sign of the man until Conor shows up on the doorstep looking for Elise, and they discover his body in his car in the garage where he apparently has been the entire time.
Meanwhile, Merle Bennett, back home in Malcouziac in the Dordogne, is getting ready for company. Her niece, Willow, is expected soon, as is her son, Tristan: both on holiday before school starts up again in the states. She is also helping her boyfriend, Pascal, locate suitable living quarters near his new headquarters for the government’s wine fraud division in Bordeaux. She is thrilled when she comes across a nice townhouse in a lovely neighborhood that the elderly owner is willing to let at a price within their budget, and she and Pascal begin to settle in.
But when she returns to their home in Malcouziac to welcome Tristan and Willow, she is surprised to discover two additional guests: Elise’s ex-boyfriend, Scott, and his younger cousin, Teague. To add to the confusion, when Merle returns to the lavender farm on the appointed day to pick her sister up from her farm stay, Elise is nowhere to be found, and no one knows where she’s gone!Lost in Lavender
is the latest installment in the charming Bennett Sisters Mystery
series by Lise McClendon. This story focuses on the youngest of the sisters and features the lovely countryside of Provence. However, with all the driving that Merle and Pascal do, readers get a glimpse of many other regions of France as well.
The story is a wonderful one of renewal and self-awareness as Elise struggles to break free of choices she made in the past and move on with a life she chooses for herself. And it is a struggle. There were a couple of times I wanted to shake her and tell her to snap out of it, shake out of her self-pity and let someone know where she was and how she was doing. Everyone but everyone was worried about the woman, and she knew it. However, she does finally come around and sets out on the road to love and a better future.
I recommend LOST IN LAVENDER
to readers that have enjoyed this series in the past. However, it makes for an excellent standalone book for those that want a romance mystery/romance set in the lovely French countryside.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author.
October 20-November 2
Lost In Lavender
Release date: October 15, 2020
at Thalia Press
Facing a crossroads– both career and personal– the youngest of the five Bennett Sisters, Elise, does what she does best: she runs away to think. This time she runs to a farm in Provence that produces heaven-scented lavender for oils. The area is famous for the beautiful purple flower, the symbol of this southern region of France. Her sisters are stumped. Elise never seemed like the farming type, or even gardening, for that matter. But she’s signed up for a farm stay vacation, an idea she got from an unlikely source, the trophy wife of one of her law partners.
When she arrives, courtesy her older sister Merle who drives her to the Luberon from the Dordogne, she discovers she is the only guest at the picturesque family farm who is not a college student. The rest are all doing a French language exchange program and are 20 years younger than Elise, leaving her feeling like an outsider and wondering about her life choices. Not only is her judgment in men and careers awful, but she can’t even plan a decent vacation.
Meanwhile in the Dordogne, Merle’s niece, Willow, arrives for some R&R before she starts law school. But she brings a few surprises with her, a boyfriend plus Elise’s fiancé. Or is it ex-fiancé? It will take several sisters– and of course Pascal– to unravel the facts as all descend on southern France for July in the heat and lavender.
Suspense, romance, intrigue, and humor as the summer heats up for the Bennett Sisters again. Another delicious adventure in international travel and cozy mystery as the Bennett Sisters fight their way to truth, justice, and a perhaps a summer fling, deep in Provence. A summer fling in France never hurt anyone, now did it?
Works fine as a stand-alone
is the author of thirteen books in the Bennett Sisters mystery series
including A Bolt from the Blue,
Blame it on Paris, and DEAD FLAT.
She wrote two mystery series,
the Alix Thorssen and Dorie Lennox mysteries
set in Jackson Hole, Wyoming,
and World War II-era Kansas City (The Bluejay Shaman; One O’clock Jump).
She also writes stand-alones as Rory Tate, including PLAN X,
a thriller featuring a Bozeman, Montana policewoman.
She edited the 2020 anthology, STOP THE WORLD: Snapshots from the Pandemic,
bringing together 40 writers around the globe to discuss their experiences and emotions during this year,
plus poetry and short fiction.
Her short story, Forked Tongue, was included in the Anthony Award-winning anthology,
The Obama Inheritance.
As Thalia Filbert she wrote with four other well-seasoned crime writers the darkly comic culinary thriller,
Beat Slay Love: One Chef’s Hunger for Delicious Revenge.
Lise has served Mystery Writers of America in the past
as a national board member and Montana representative.
She lives in wilds of Montana near Yellowstone National Park.
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