When Lavender sends out invitations to her 85th birthday bash, it’s more than just a celebration. One of the guests might be lucky enough to inherit the Lavender Honey Farm she has so laboriously carved out of her family land, and in which her nephews are not interested. With that in mind she invites three fellow food bloggers (they call themselves the “Foodie Four”) to visit and celebrate the special occasion, and each responds from the center of a complicated life.

All of the Foodie Four are smarting from the dings and arrows of inadvertent fortune. Lavender writes a three-times-a-week food blog to express her love of the land and as a forum for organic farming and animal husbandry. What she does not tell her readers is that she has begun to see ghosts of dead friends and favorite dogs among the old trees, beehives and fragrant lavender fields that are so much a part of her life’s accomplishment.

Unexpected love rears its attractive head on a weekend retreat.

Ruby is 21 and pregnant by a husband she no longer loves, and Ginny is escaping the careless cruelty of a husband who has left her behind for years. (Unlike the famous Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, she never wants to go back to Kansas!) Valerie, a widowed ballet-dancer, and her teenage daughter, Hannah, are still mourning the loss of the rest of their family in a plane crash.

Barbara O’Neal, who also writes as Ruth Wind and Barbara Samuel, has won six RITA awards for earlier books. (She’s also a former BookPage columnist.) In The All You Can Dream Buffet, O’Neal touches on such subjects as the honorable way to deal with food animals in a meat-eating civilization, and healthy vegetable consumption. Portions of the Foodies’ food blogs also appear, including a few recipes.

And, as usual, in a top-notch romance, the men are first-rate: handsome, bright guys whom any woman would be proud to attract. Unexpected love rears its attractive head as the weekend progresses and lives are changed in the pace of a few days, but maybe the blue moon has something to do with that. A quick, satisfying read is in store for all who pick up this book for a fun time and a foodie fling.

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