Review: Lavender in Bloom by Lily Velez

A heartbreaking tale about love and loss...

It’s the year 1802 in Avignon, France.

Noah Capet has spent most of his young life living simple and unvaried days in the hushed countryside of southern France. Quiet, reserved, and diffident, his preference for existing is to do so in solitude, keeping to himself both in town and on his family’s farm—a predilection that’s altogether disrupted when a newcomer to town by the name of Jeremie Perreault begins an unremitting quest to befriend him. 

Jeremie is everything Noah is not. Charismatic and gregarious, he leaves a trail of charmed admirers in his wake wherever he goes. Expressive and idealistic, he talks without end about his deep love for old books and his spirited dream to one day travel the world on a literary pilgrimage. 

Over the course of a single summer, the two form an unlikely friendship, but just as quickly as it develops, it soon entirely dissolves as they’re forced to face the truth of what has unexpectedly emerged between them. 

Lavender in Bloom is a tender and tragic coming-of-age story about first love and self-discovery, and a poignant reminder that time is fleeting and always takes with it the choices we’re too afraid to make.

"Over time, lavender spread throughout all the lands, and it was said that wherever it bloomed, love was present."

Sometimes I feel like being sad. Not often, but I occasionally like to read books or movies that break with tradition. And usually break my heart and this book fit the bill. But there is beauty in this tragedy and a lesson. 

Unfortunately Noah grasps the depth and breadth of that lesson too late. Noah is a young man with a tragic past that has shaped him. He strives to maintain his inner peace through solitude, preferring the company of animals over people and he speaks infrequently. His youngest sister Camilla who's determined to marry before her next birthday puts him directly in the path of Jeremie who will constantly beat upon the walls of Noah's personal fortress.

Jeremie and Noah's romance is a slow burn between two men in a time period so full of repression that merely holding hands was considered risqué. Lily Velez captured all the things about this era that make for a great romance. While Noah clings to propriety, duty and all the trappings thereof, Jeremie clings to his revolutionary ideals and longs to forge new paths eschewing the privilege into which he was born. How dissimilar they are was illustrated exceptionally well given the fact that the entire story is told through Noah, who isn't all that perceptive.

The writing style is apropos of the era and brimming with lush French imagery; it skirts the purple line but I tend to be drawn to a more flowery style. It's not hard to envision Ms. Velez having a bright future as an author. Lavender in Bloom is reminiscent of Sense and Sensibility, if that tells you anything. She builds Noah and Jeremie's chemistry through yearning looks, stolen moments and furtive touches. And one earth shattering kiss. The addition of Provincial folklore enriched my experience and made it a more enjoyable one.

My only quibble is that I didn't feel Noah's love for Jeremie. They spend so much time apart or misunderstanding one another coupled with Noah's naiveté and his tendency towards of forbearance which by extension involved Jeremie thereby making it difficult to believe he shared the profundity of Jeremie's feelings.

Until it was too late.

And by that time it was too late for me to invest anything more than sympathy.

Recommended for those who enjoy a bittersweet historical romance.

A review copy was provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

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