Book Review: The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh

One hot summer. One week in a villa on the outskirts of Deia, a village nestling in the rugged, mountainous west coast of the island of Mallorca. One family for whom the carefully laid jigsaw of life is about to be broken.

Jenn and her husband Greg holiday each year in Deia, enjoying languorous afternoons by the pool. But this year the equilibrium is upset by the arrival of Emma, Jenn’s stepdaughter, and her boyfriend Nathan. Beautiful and reckless, Nathan stirs something unexpected in Jenn. As she is increasingly seduced by the notion of Nathan’s youth and the promise of passion, the line between desire and obsession begins to blur. What follows is a highly-charged liaison that put lives and relationships in jeopardy, and a taut narrative which percolates with enough sexual tension to make it impossible to put down. (from

The Lemon Grove came onto my radar right at a time when I was craving a holiday, during the coldest, greyest, most miserablest of Cumbrian weather. All of a sudden this book was everywhere, from my Amazon recommendations to completely overtaking my twitter feed. I couldn’t wait to get hold of a copy. 

And The Lemon Grove delivers exactly what it promises. Steamy, sexy, sultry- it’s all those things. Set in the beautiful surroundings of Deia on the island of Majorca, this book is so deeply evocative I could almost feel the heat of the Mediterranean sun and see the glint of its rays shimmering off water. Yet Helen Walsh is spare with her words, not a single one is wasted or given over to flowery description. The sharp, blunt style grabbed my attention and kept me hooked to the very end. 

But the heat doesn’t just come from the sun in this book. It’s super charged with sexual tension and attraction, amplified by the atmospheric setting. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure how I was going to react to Jenn’s relationship with her step-daughter’s seventeen year old boyfriend, but this isn’t a romance at all. It’s an intense,  raw frustration filled passion from a woman who feels taken advantage of, frumpy and past her best. Through her relationship with Nathan, Helen Walsh delivers a story of complex family dynamics, betrayals and jealousies. While I did find some of the sex scenes a bit cringy and awkward to read, it’s very brutally honest and doesn’t attempt to convince you that this is a love story. 

The Lemon Grove won’t be everyone’s taste. If you’re very easily offended you may find the sex scenes a bit graphic. While it’s intense and passionate, it definitely isn’t romantic. Personally I thought it was very good. Full of atmosphere, complex characters and evocative settings. I read it in a day and was hooked from beginning to the very clever end. 


Published by Tinder Press UK (February 2014) 

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