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Cynthia Terelst
As Busy as a Bee
A workplace romance between two former best friends, which explores male mental health, relationships and the benefits of the right support.
This charming installment of Terelst’s Love Down Under series introduces 26 year-old Beau Hart as he returns home from California to work on his family’s apple orchard in Tasmania just in time for picking season. He’s been away eight years, and news of his return comes as a surprise to his family—and especially to his childhood friend, Clare, a “senior” on the farm and Beau’s first love. Still holding on to anger and resentment for his leaving and shutting her out so many years ago, Clare welcomes him with anger and avoidance. This all changes when they are forced to share an office and work closely together. Uncertain about her future at the Hart farm and feelings for Beau, a cat-and-mouse romance unfolds from both perspectives as the two heal scars from the past and make plans for the farm’s future.

The story is fast-paced and heartfelt as Beau struggles with clinical anxiety and confidence while trying to reintegrate himself back into the family business and regain Clare’s trust. Terelst writes movingly of how each lead is the other’s “sense of calm” but also creates a convincing feeling of uncertainty about the relationship, adding welcome tension. Clare does her best to keep distance between them, but seeing the dynamic between Beau and his parents stirs old memories to the surface and softens her resolve.

Terelst has written a slow burn full of romantic tension and a cast of beautifully flawed characters, all set against the backdrop of beehives, orchards, and heirloom apples. Fans of character-driven, second chance romances with realistic love interests will find this an enjoyable read. Although there is some mild to moderate heat, Beau and Clare’s unique friendship and supportive grandparents give the story a sweet, cozy feel. This heartwarming story demonstrates the importance of showing loved ones trust and appreciation.

Takeaway: A charming second-chance romance set against the backdrop of a Tasmanian apple orchard.

Great for fans of: Kimberly Krey’s Second Chances series, Jennifer Griffith’s Forgotten First Kiss.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A-