Rueberry Orchard | Michele Notaro

Rueberry Orchard (Beyond the Realm: Remember #1) by Michele Notaro
published 6 October 2020

“There’s no time. Remember Rueberry Orchard.”

A beautiful man in strange clothing starts invading my dreams, and even though I know he isn’t real, the dreams—mind-links, according to him—are so vivid it’s hard to imagine this man doesn’t exist. After a few of these nightly visits, I start looking forward to meeting him and listening to his smooth voice as he tries to convince me to go to Rueberry Orchard.

To my surprise, the place really exists, but I know it would be crazy to go there when it’s ten hours away… right?

When the visits don’t stop, some deep desire inside me knows I have to listen to this dream man, even if it’s absolutely insane. I follow his instructions to Rueberry Orchard, and nothing in this world could’ve prepared me for what I find. Or for the wild adventure I’m about to embark on.

Rueberry Orchard is the first book in the multi-author series, Beyond the Realm: Remember. Each book is set in its own world and can be read as a standalone novel. Join eight authors on eight very different, romantic, and magical stories as each one writes their own take on the same concept.

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How was it?

This is a first for me, I’ve read co-authored books before but in this case each installment of the series is written by a different author. I didn’t know that going in, I tend to pick books based on the author, the title, or sometimes the cover. But I am interested to see how and if the overall story will be a cohesive whole.

Michele Notaro starts us off and I have to admit that it’s the first one of her books that I wasn’t completely glued to. The premise is intriguing enough, Rhile, who lives a simple and uneventful life, has that life shaken by recurring dreams of a beautiful man. A man who eventually asks him to go to Rueberry Orchard, a real place, and that’s how this adventure starts.

The story is beautiful, it’s about self-discovery, well rediscovery, heartbreak and unfolds in this tender fantasy with some cool action sequences. Turns out Rhile has a whole life he’s forgotten about, one that was stolen from him. The beautiful man in his dreams, Ezryn, is more than a pleasant dream man but someone he shared his life with.

Ezryn remembers everything, but to Rhile the man is a stranger and his world is a bit weird. The author does a great job with the emotions at play in such a scenario. Rhile’s confusion and excitement while discovering this new world and meeting this man he’s been attracted to since that first dream. Ezryn’s joy in reuniting with Rhile, the pain of not seeing the man he knew, and the fear of losing him again or scaring him away. We spend some time with Ezryn reintroducing himself to someone be already loves. It felt real and my heart ached for him, while at the same time I completely understood where Rhile was coming from. It’s all new and overwhelming for him and he keeps meeting new people who have a history with him.

The book might sound like it’s a very angsty book but it’s not. There’s an appropriate amount of it, which makes sense. It’s not a light and fluffy story either, it’s quite serious but there’s some humor, great characters, and good action. But I didn’t totally click with the story, I enjoyed what I read, I was just a bit lost by the world building. There were also what I would call fantasy-world-expressions that were there for the sake of having them. They didn’t feel organic at all, and the resolution seemed a bit rushed.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Rueberry Orchard is available on The Book Depository, Amazon, Audible and other book retailers near you.

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