Happy Thanksgiving to my U.S. readers! I wish you a wonderful day of family, friends, and delicious food. And I hope you enjoy this review of a book that is very fitting for this day: a story that celebrates all of those things.
There is something in the stories that Barbara O’Neal tells that transforms. She crafts a special kind of magic that makes a reader feel part of the scene; a character in the larger story.
The All You Can Dream Buffet is a story of friendship and love, wrapped up in the world of food and wine, cake and photography. Lavender Honey Farms is in Oregon and is operated by Lavender Wills, an octogenarian with a passion for organic products and her farm. But she knows her time is getting short . . . she has begun to have visits from the ghost of a former friend and Lavender needs to find an heir to her empire, such as it is. She turns to her network, The Foodie Four.
Along with Lavender, The Foodie Four includes Valerie, Ruby, and Ginny. Lavender invites all of the ladies to the farm for her birthday party. As the women all make their way to Lavender Honey Farms, each is on her own personal journey and Lavender is assessing her options. Valerie is travelling with her teenage daughter – the only one she has left, after her husband and two other daughters died in a plane accident. She’s a wine enthusiast, but hasn’t blogged since the accident. Ruby is young and pregnant and just leaving an intensely passionate relationship with a man whom she is still in love with. And Ginny has taken a huge dose of courage to leave her Kansas small town for the first time in her life.
The All You Can Dream Buffet is a sensory experience; the descriptions of food and wine, lavender and herbs, flowers and photography are evocative and mesmerizing. Instead of reading the story, I listened and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. There are elements of romance and magic and drama and passion. It all comes together in a rich tapestry of story that is both moving and memorable.
About the Author
Barbara Samuel (also known as Barbara O’Neal) is the bestselling author of more than 40 books, and has won Romance Writers of America’s RITA award an astounding six times. Her books have been published around the world, including France, Germany, Italy, and Australia/New Zealand, among others. One of her recent women’s fiction titles, The Lost Recipe for Happiness (written as Barbara O’Neal) went back to print eight times, and her book How to Bake a Perfect Life was a Target Club pick in 2011.
Whether set in the turbulent past or the even more challenging present, Barbara’s books feature strong women, families, dogs, food, and adventure—whether on the road or toward the heart.
A native of Colorado Springs, Barbara lives there with her partner, Christopher Robin, an endurance athlete, along with her dog and cats. She is an avid gardner, hiker, photographer, and traveler who loves to take off at dawn to hike a 14er or head to a faraway land, or curl up with the animals in the garden and read. She loves to connect with readers and is very involved with them on the Internet.
Barbara Samuel | Barbara O’Neal | Blog | @barbaraoneal | Facebook
About the Book
Perfect for fans of Kristin Hannah and Susan Wiggs—Barbara O’Neal’s new novel of food, friendship, and the freedom to grow your dreams brings together four very different women longing to savor the true taste of happiness.
Popular blogger and foodie queen Lavender Wills reigns over Lavender Honey Farms, a serene slice of organic heaven nestled in Oregon wine country. Lavender is determined to keep her legacy from falling into the profit-driven hands of uncaring relatives, and she wants an heir to sustain her life’s work after she’s gone. So she invites her three closest online friends—fellow food bloggers, women of varied ages and backgrounds—out to her farm. She hopes to choose one of them to inherit it—but who?
There’s Ginny, the freckle-faced Kansas cake baker whose online writing is about to lead her out of a broken marriage and into a world of sensual delights. And Ruby, young, pregnant, devoted to the organic movement, who’s looking for roots—and the perfect recipe to heal a shattered heart. Finally, Val, smart and sophisticated, a wine enthusiast who needs a fresh start for her teenage daughter after tragedy has rocked their lives. Coming together will change the Foodie Four in ways they could never have imagined, uniting them in love and a common purpose. As they realize that life doesn’t always offer a perfect recipe for happiness, they also discover that the moments worth savoring are flavored with some tears, a few surprises, and generous helping of joy.