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The Beekeeper's Ball

(Bella Vista Chronicles #2)

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  9,041 ratings  ·  924 reviews
#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs returns to sun-drenched Bella Vista, where the land's bounty yields a rich harvest…and family secrets that have long been buried.

Isabel Johansen, a celebrated chef who grew up in the sleepy Sonoma town of Archangel, is transforming her childhood home into a destination cooking school—a unique place for other dreamers to com
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published June 24th 2014 by MIRA (first published January 1st 2014)
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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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 ·  9,041 ratings  ·  924 reviews

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May 01, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: waste-of-time
Well, I thought this was pretty terrible. I have read Susan Wiggs before, and was mildly entertained, but this one kind of read like she wrote it in her sleep. I don't read a lot of romance novels, but when I do, I pick them not for the rugged handsomeness of their heroes, but usually for the professions of the heroines (examples: antique dealers, home renovators, cooks, farmers, booksellers - you get the idea), so when I read the blurb on this one I thought, "Jackpot! She's starting a cooking s ...more
Gerri Sutter-Lauzon
Mar 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I just finished this book after starting it yesterday. I had a hard time putting it down so I could get some sleep last night. I loved this book. It was a tender, gentle love story about an interesting family. Isobel and Mac are the main characters. She's a homebody, close to her grandfather and living in the family fruit farm in California that is in the process of being renovated into a bed and breakfast/cooking school (Isobel's passion). Mac is a well known author, there to write her grandfat ...more
Laura (Kyahgirl)
3.5/5; 4 stars; B+

Susan Wiggs is a talented writer and I enjoyed this slow paced study of a family through several decades. I thought the back story of the elder people during the war was as interesting or even more so than the present day story. I can see this won't be everyone but for me it met that need to read about family, friends, community and all the best things about being human.

The narrator, Christina Traister, did an excellent job.

Susan Wiggs has brought us back to the delightful Bella Vista in her newest novel The Beekeeper’s Ball. It is another book that highlights the love of unconventional families and the love that can be found. This time the story is focused on Isabel and her dream of starting a kitchen school. However her dreams are added to the list of things to do while preparing for her sister’s wedding, finding a beekeeper, saving a famous writer Cormac O'Neill from dying from bee stings, and hearing the story
Judy D Collins
I enjoyed Susan’s “The Apple Orchard” (Bella Vista Chronicles, #1), and was delighted to receive an advanced reading copy of “The Beekeeper's Ball” (Bella Vista Chronicles #2), as a continuation of thirty year old Isabel, as she transforms her childhood home (Bella Vista), a gathering place for friends and family, for reunions and celebrations. In addition her dreams, the Bella Vista Cooking School—a unique place for other dreamers to come, and learn the culinary arts—all while she leaves her pa ...more
Dale Harcombe
Feb 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Having read the Apple Orchard, which I suggest you read first, this novel brings us back to Bella Vista and some of the same characters. This time the main character is Isabel who was my favourite character in the Apple Orchard. So I was interested to read more about her and she did not disappoint. She is not only setting up a cooking school at Bella Vista and organising the wedding of her half sister Tess, but she is also involved with bee keeping and producing honey. Into Bella Vista comes Cor ...more
Jun 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Two-haiku review:

He's to write bio
Of her grandfather's war tales
Can she let him in?

Best read first book first
More history than romance
Book felt unfinished
Jun 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
Chick Lite at its lightest. There are snippets of the Danish war resistance seen in The Apple Orchard but mostly we follow Isabella's story. She is opening a culinary school at Bella Vista, hiring a new beekeeper to manage her growing honey industry, planning the food for her sister Tess's upcoming wedding and doing her best to avoid Cormac O'Neil, a feature writing journalist hired to write her grandfather's life story.

If you love all things honey related and recipes in your novels this is the
Diana | Book of Secrets
Jun 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
It’s wonderful to visit Archangel again! I fell in love with the charming fictional town in the first book, THE APPLE ORCHARD. Susan Wiggs’ gorgeous descriptions of Sonoma County make me want to jump inside her books.

THE BEEKEEPER’S BALL picks up where the first book left off. Sisters Tess and Isabel are planning Tess’ wedding at the family estate called Bella Vista. Isabel is also living out her dream of opening a cooking school in their home. Isabel is a workaholic and a bit of a hermit. She’s
I actually liked this one a lot more than the first book--though I disagree with some of the trope-y additions Wiggs included (particularly (view spoiler)) and I wasn't that impressed with the main love interest.
I think Isabel is a much more pleasant narrator than Tess was, and I found it easier to relate to her background than Tess's jet-setting world-traveler past. I a
Jan Blooth
Aug 21, 2014 rated it did not like it
I liked The Apple Orchard. It read much smoother than this one and the love story was sweet, plus I flt as if I were getting my money's worth in that story. This love story felt so silly, and Mac's character was more girly than manly. I had issues with the other characters, too. On the whole, Beekeeper's Ball felt very choppy, as if scenes were missing. The writing was very young, like I was reading my 10 year old's book report. Lots of errors and things that didn't make sense after book one. I ...more
Penny McGill
Aug 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: romance
This is a lovely book. So relaxing. A wonderful choice for someone about to go on an airplane ride they don't want to take because just dipping into the pages is enough to transport you to another world. Turbulence? Don't feel it. Ice on the wings? Not noticing any of that creepy chemical smell as they remove it. Such a world in this book. A beautiful villa with honey bees, a busy construction site, an upcoming wedding, a few family secrets, many delicious recipes discussed and eaten and a very ...more
Barbara ★
I picked this up because I really liked The Apple Orchard and wanted to know how Isabel fared. Unfortunately this wasn't as good as the first book as it wasn't a straight romance. Well I guess it was just not of the main characters (or who you think is the main character). It turned out to be more Magnus' story than Isabel's. While I liked Magnus' story, I felt that it completely overshadowed Isabel's budding romance with Cormac O'Neill.

I thought the chemistry was scorching hot between Isabel a
Jan 12, 2017 added it
The second novel in Wiggs’s Bella Vista series offers the same strong sense of place that characterized the first book. The scenes and the scents and the textures of life at Bella Vista give the reader the sense of having visited this idyllic spot. Both Isabel and Mac are likeable characters, and watching them fall in love is a delight. They have enough in common to enable the reader to believe that more than their desire for one another unites them, and yet the difference between Mac, a diploma ...more
Jul 17, 2014 rated it liked it
I didn't enjoy this book as much as the first book in the series. I felt it was repetitive at times and the descriptions weren't as great as I had expected. I have never heard of a kiss described as "sexy" and it continued to bother me throughout the book. The WWII history in the novel was a nice addition again and I enjoyed learning more about Magnus' past. But I feel the plot and writing fell flat. Isabel was the character I felt I could relate to most when reading The Apple Orchard, so I had ...more
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2015
This didn't really hold my interest. I bought the book, so I kept going with it. If it were a library book, I would've ditched it. I liked her 1st book in the series, The Apple Orchard much better. The main character, Isabelle was too whiny, and I got tired of her playing hard to get, and of all the reasons she shouldn't fall in love with Mac. I was very happy to finish!! ...more
Dec 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
I had been looking forward to listening to this book ever since I heard it was coming out - and it didn't disappoint! I loved the character, Isabel, and Mac was such an interesting character. It helped that I loved the setting. The background story from WWII Denmark was an important part and it brought everything about the family together. ...more
Aug 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
These two books were a very pleasant diversion. While a tad more 'chest heaving' romance than I typically enjoy, they also included two items of particular interest: a bit of history about what the German war machine perpetrated on their victims--information that I had not heard before, in spite of quite a few WWII books that I've read--and some lovely sounding recipes (which I will be trying soon). The stories switched back and forth from the history of WWII to the current lives of the families ...more
Oct 11, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: susan-wiggs
Reading the 2nd book in the Bella Vista series by Susan Wiggs, gives the reader much more background on how Magnus Johanssen had his son with friend Annalise, instead of his wife. I will not go into the details of the story, except to say, it all makes sense to me now.
I preferred this book to the first; simply because I was a bit more convinced by the contemporary love story between Isabel, Magnus’s grand-daughter, and writer, Cormac O’Neill, who stays at the wonderful Bella Vista estate in orde
Jan 28, 2020 rated it liked it
“The Beekeeper’s Ball” is an interesting historical fiction focusing on the Danish Resistance in WW2 with flashbacks to the 1940s Copenhagen, intermixed (time jumps) with bodice-ripping romance. Does that make for universal appeal or does that make half the book outside your wheelhouse?
I appreciated the history I learned.

Two quotes I marked that seem to be overriding themes of the book are:
“I’ve read studies of trauma survivors. Some fall apart later, and others move on with their lives. One ke
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance
The second in the Bella Vista series, this one goes a bit deeper into Magnus and Annelise and Ramon and Eva's time in wartime Copenhagen, the first three in the Danish resistance, Eva, a captured Jew. Some of it was pretty horrendous and a lot of it illuminating and all of it in the past. Isabelle is the current focus along with her past in an abusive relationship, Tess and Dominic's wedding, and the soon-to-be opened cooking school. There is a lot about beekeeping and recipes using honey. Altog ...more
Nancy (Nani)
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the third book I have read by this author. I have thoroughly enjoyed all of them. Loved the setting and the unique and endearing characters in both The Apple Orchard and this sequel to that. The book ended, leaving me to believe there will hopefully be a third book in this Bella Vista Chronicle series. There were many surprises in this book, right up to the very ending. Sounds like more to come. Hopefully for all the readers who have enjoyed these books.
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am enjoying this series and hope there is more to come. I like that there’s small bit and pieces of the past that intertwine with the current relationships and family dynamics. This has been an easy read series that I haven’t wanted to put down.
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Light and relaxing and meaningful to some who have had a challenge and moved forward nicely.
Apr 21, 2018 rated it liked it
A feel good story for a change. Thoroughly enjoyed this. Second time I read about bee-keeping.
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pat McCleary
A new to me author, I enjoyed this very much. Had to go back and read the book prior to this.
Kait Maciejewski
This was definitely not my style at all. I felt like I was reading a Hallmark movie. It just seemed to drag and it felt like it was going nowhere, except you knew exactly where it was heading because it was predictable - again, like a Hallmark movie.
Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
Sweet book. I enjoyed it.
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Susan Wiggs's life is all about family, friends...and fiction. She lives at the water's edge on an island in Puget Sound, and she commutes to her writers' group in a 17-foot motorboat. She serves as author liaison for Field's End, a literary community on Bainbridge Island, Washington, bringing inspiration and instruction from the world's top authors to her seaside community. (See ...more

Other books in the series

Bella Vista Chronicles (3 books)
  • The Apple Orchard (Bella Vista Chronicles, #1)
  • The Lost and Found Bookshop

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Susan Wiggs is the bestselling author of more than 50 books, including Just Breathe , 11 books in the beloved Lakeshore Chronicles series ,...
21 likes · 51 comments
“This time of year, the purple blooms were busy with life- not just the bees, but butterflies and ladybugs, skippers and emerald-toned beetles, flitting hummingbirds and sapphire dragonflies. The sun-warmed sweet haze of the blossoms filled the air.
"When I was a kid," said Isabel, "I used to capture butterflies, but I was afraid of the bees. I'm getting over that, though." The bees softly rose and hovered over the flowers, their steady hum oddly soothing. The quiet buzzing was the soundtrack of her girlhood summers. Even now, she could close her eyes and remember her walks with Bubbie, and how they would net a monarch or swallowtail butterfly, studying the creature in a big clear jar before setting it free again. They always set them free.
As she watched the activity in the hedge, a memory floated up from the past- Bubbie, gently explaining to Isabel why they needed to open the jar. "No creature should ever be trapped against its will," she used to say. "It will ruin itself, just trying to escape." As a survivor of a concentration camp, Bubbie only ever spoke of the experience in the most oblique of terms.”
“For the bee, honey is the ultimate reality. It represents the fulfillment of her life mission, the triumph over her enemies, the continuity of the hive, the justification for working herself to death. Honey is to bees what money in the bank is to people—a measure of prosperity and well-being. But there is nothing abstract or symbolic about honey, as there is about money, which has no intrinsic value. There is more real wealth in a pound of honey, or a load of manure for that matter, than all the currency in the world. We often destroy the world’s real wealth to create an illusion of wealth, confusing symbol and substance.” —William Longgood, The Queen Must Die” 2 likes
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