Newly released is Sarah's fourth book - The Last Camellia.
You've probably heard that different flowers have different meanings - yellow roses are for friendship, for example. The meaning of the camellia flower? My destiny is in your hands.
Definitely, no one's destiny is of their own making in The Last Camellia. Jio returns to a form of storytelling that I've quite enjoyed in previous books - a dual past and present telling of a story, that seem to mirror each other - seventy years apart.
Livingstone Manor in England is home to one of the rarest camellias of all - the Middlebury Pink. It is coveted by botanists world wide and prized by flower thieves. In 1940, young New Yorker Flora Lewis is blackmailed into helping one of those thieves. She heads to England to work as a nanny at Livingstone Manor - but her real job is to hunt down the Middlebury. But Flora is not the only one with a secret -the Manor and its inhabitants have their own secrets.
In 2000, New Yorker Addison Sinclair is also being blackmailed by someone from her past. To keep her secrets hidden, she agrees to spend the summer at an estate in England that her in-laws have purchased. Yes, you guessed it - it's Livingstone Manor. Addison starts to piece together the mysteries of the Manor as she strives to keep her own past hidden from her husband.
The Last Camellia has a Gothic feel to it, with a rambling old manor, hidden rooms and wings, a family beset by tragedy, and an omnipresent housekeeper who straddles both time lines and more. Jio's plotting this time is quite involved, with many links and coincidences. The plot seemed to take precedence over character development in this book. I found I quite enjoyed the character of Flora and her love story, but didn't really feel the same for Addison and her husband Rex. That being said, the plotting moves the book along very quickly - it was a two sitting read for me.
The descriptions of the conservatory, gardens and flowers were wonderful and added much to the story. The Last Camellia is a lovely little summer read to curl up with on the porch - by the garden, of course, where you can smell the flowers. (As a aside - I think the covers of Jio's novels are always quite beautiful.)
See for yourself - read an excerpt of The Last Camellia. Book clubs - there is a reading group guide available.
You can find Sarah Jio on Facebook and on Twitter. Watch for Sarah Jio's fifth book - Morning Glory - releasing in November 26/13.
See what other bloggers on the TLC book tour thought. Full schedule can be found here.
And thanks to the lovely folks at Plume - I have FIVE copies to giveaway. Yes, you read that right - five. Open to US and Canada. To be entered - leave a comment with the name of your favourite flower. Winners will be randomly chosen. Ends Sunday July 21/13.