I was always told that you can't judge a book by its cover, but with Ghost Orchid you can! The story inside is just as beautiful as the cover. Both are as rare as the ghost orchid on the cover. Author D.K. Christi has woven her knowledge of the Florida Everglades and nature into an exquisite, enchanting love story where a rare ghost orchid plays a magical, pivotal role for all the characters.
The story opens with a lonely, middle-aged woman, Mel, taking her daily walk at the Audubon Society Sanctuary, reminiscing about her lost love and other secrets of her past. Although melancholy, she feels blessed to have experienced a "Great Love" in her life. She longs to see her estranged lover "just once more before she dies" and is happier among the sights and sounds of nature than anywhere else. She's a solitary figure at the sanctuary, but she's a "regular" and is known and well-liked by the staff.
The story switches back and forth between Mel and Neev, a statuesque beauty who quit modeling to study philosophy at Oxford University. Neev loves photography, so eventually decides to pursue that career, a path that takes her to exotic locations around the world. She lands a plum assignment with a famous photographer, Roger Andrew, who is always seeking a rare "find" in nature. Roger is much older than Neev, but he becomes her mentor and best friend and they have a loving relationship.
Although Roger and Neev share many things, she never confides to him about her family life or her reluctance to visit Florida. And Roger doesn't talk much of his ex-wife and son. Roger is passionate in his mission to uncover a "rare find," so when he learns that a ghost orchid is blooming at the Audubon Society Sanctuary, he convinces Neev to accompany him.
For reasons I can't reveal without spoiling the plot, Neev is as passionate in her dislike of her mother as Roger is about his drive to find the elusive flower. Neev was raised by a devoted German couple and always wondered about her father. She longs to know more about him, but harbors little hope for a "love of her own."
Something happens to Mel at the same time the rare orchid is spotted. That's a tragedy, but it creates the magic in this story, bringing the most unlikely people together in the most magical ways.
What happens to Mel? Why has Neev chosen such a solitary, lonely life? What is so unique about this particular ghost orchid? Does it really have mystical powers? Who is the mysterious amateur photographer who becomes Roger's email friend? And how do Roger's Florida relatives fit into the picture?
D.K. Christi answers all those questions in a masterful way, with near-perfect pacing, believable, likable characters--and a little help from a rare ghost orchid.
I highly recommend this haunting, exquisite love story.
ENDNOTE: There are some coincidences that could be considered as contrived by the author, but with a story this well-written and beautiful in its symmetry and uniqueness of plot, who would question that?
Reviewed by Betty Dravis, July 22, 2010
Author of "Dream Reachers" (with Chase Von) and other books