This is my second book by Sarah Addison Allen and I really enjoyed it. I'm a reader of pretty heavy material, so every once in awhile, I like to clear my palate with some lighter fare and Ms Allen always delivers a fun, indulgent read laced with sweetness and a little bit of magic.
Willa Jackson, Colin and Paxton Osgood, and Sebastian Rogers all went to high school together and all but Paxton (who never left) returned years later, completely changed people. The story centers around a Gala, a formal party to celebrate the re-opening of the Blue Ridge Madam, led by Paxton and the Women's Society. Just as the Madam is about to open,a skeleton is found, tying Willa, Colin and Paxton together via their ancestors and a well kept secret.
The Peach Keeper is more than a story about a magical man who smelled of peaches and once held an entire town at bay and who suddenly and mysteriously disappeared... and then reappeared as a skeleton just as Walls of Water's premiere luxury hotel was to reopen. It is a story of regrets, of self reinvention, of resistance to change and letting go of fears, and most of all of being true to oneself.
There was a lot less magic in this book than in The Girl Who Chased the Moon-- I really expected more and perhaps the story could have benefited from it, but I also felt the story was full-- each character had a purpose for being in the book and each character lived up to his or her potential.
I especially enjoyed the scandal between Tucker, Agatha (Paxton and Colin Osgood's grandmother), and Georgie (Willa Jackson's grandmother. I wanted there to be a bit more detail about covering up the secret and what it had taken to keep it quiet.
And I'll say this, because romances in books, by definition are unrealistic, but the romantic connections, to me, seem to be a stretch. Too pat and perfect and... unrealistic. I guess I am hard to please, and these relationships needed to form in order to push the story along. I was happy to see some old friendships rekindle, and some begin for the first time. I'm still sort of appalled that people still live in the town where they went to high school.
I gave this book 4 of 5 stars, purely because I enjoyed it so much!