Title: The Garden (Lavender Shores #2)
Author: Rosalind Abel
Publisher: Wings of Ink Publications
Release Date: July 25, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 267
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 4.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Beautiful Gilbert Bryant designs jewelry for the rich and famous, and he made his escape from his gossipy little hometown of Lavender Shores. However, with so many friends and family, he keeps getting pulled back. When he attends his best friend’s engagement party, Gilbert can’t help but sample one of the new men in town. It’s just some innocent—or not so innocent—fun. Nothing that will even cross his mind once he gets back to his everyday life.
Walden Thompson dreamed about living in Lavender Shores since he visited as a child. He finally gets his chance, and he embraces the opportunity to start over, to become someone new. He leaves both hurts and dangerous habits in the past, where they belong. When Gilbert crosses his path, Walden gives in to his baser instincts. He can indulge in the carnal pleasures this once and still be okay.
Their few hours together haunt Gilbert, the two-hundred-mile buffer from home no longer shutting out the past or the sexy man he left behind. Walden is just beginning to recover from the smoldering encounter with Gilbert when they are thrust together once more. This time, neither of them can walk away, no matter how hard they try. But when their pasts crash into each other as surely as the magnetism that pulls them together, walking away may be the only option.
It was That Ass that did it. Lavender Shores’s bad boy Gilbert Bryant (who we met in The Palisade (Lavender Shores #1) spots that sweet ass on a thick corn-fed gorgeous man at the gym (“Well-proportioned face, angular enough to be masculine but round enough to give off a boyish air”) and one very steamy blow job later, Gilbert and Walden (aka That Ass) heads to Walden’s house for another sizzling round. Afterwards Gilbert, who definitely doesn’t do commitment thinks “something completely stupid. Something like here’s my number, let’s do it again” while Walden berates himself for slipping into bad behavior and messing up his self-imposed chastity and each man vows this was just a one-time-only hookup.
Except … Gilbert finds himself thinking more and more about Walden, all the while telling Andrew and Joel his standard line:
We just had great sex. Some of the most fun sex of my life, sure, and you know that’s saying something, but still. It was just sex.
The Garden is such a different story than The Palisade in that Gilbert and Walden’s relationship is anything but insta-love. Each man has more issues than Vogue magazine; as Gilbert says “the things I have done have kept me in therapy since I was a teenager” and Walden? When Walden breaks down telling Gilbert his story, Gilbert doesn’t him judge him but understands that fine line between not caring if you live or die.
The “Garden” of the title refers to the incredible fairy garden Walden has created out of the overgrown wilderness in the back yard of his tiny Lavender Shores’ home. It’s a great metaphor for what happens in both men’s lives:
Somehow he managed to keep some of the wildness it had but turned it into something beautiful, something nearly supernaturally wonderful.
This story kept my interest every page of the way and I loved how we get to see Joel and Andrew’s wedding! Walden and Gilbert’s sexual chemistry is Off.The.Chain with lots and lots of sex and some seriously hot kink. But I also loved the way Walden and Gilbert’s relationship developed and I liked how Walden resolves his issues and becomes stronger and more certain that Gilbert is the one:
It was like drinking that powdered chocolate stuff you put in milk when you’re a kid. You think it’s delicious, that you love chocolate. Then one day you stumble into a chocolate store and pick up a high quality piece of chocolate and take a bite. You suddenly realize you’ve never tasted chocolate before. You have no idea what that powdered stuff was that you thought was chocolate, but you know you’ll never drink it again. Not after discovering real chocolate.
5 stars for The Garden and I’m looking to the next book in the Lavender Shores’s series – The Veranda which tells Donovan Carlisle’s story.