When two broken men look to each other for help, an unexpected romance blooms.
Stephen’s home, deep in the heart of the Welsh valleys, suits his reclusive nature. However, as he recovers from illness, he’s struggling to manage alone. As nature reclaims the land he’s poured his heart into cultivating, he becomes increasingly unhappy. His only outlet is his blog, where he documents the decline of the garden that had been his pride and joy.
He was a high-flyer, living and working in London, until addiction sent him into free fall. Now on the road to recovery, he still wants to make some changes, but he’s unsure where to find the purpose and fulfilment he craves.
A mutual acquaintance suggests Luke visits Stephen to help him out for a while, and a seed of hope is planted. From prickly beginnings, shoots of friendship emerge, blossoming into a deeper connection when they act on their mutual attraction.
This was only ever supposed to be a temporary arrangement, and soon Stephen will be able to manage on his own again. But both men need each other in ways they’re afraid to admit. If their love is going to last for more than one season, they’ll need to find the courage to be honest.
Story: I think this might very well be the best book Jay Northcote has written so far. There’s just so much emotion in this story. And the writing… it’s simply incredible. Such a pleasure to listen to, especially the almost poetic, evocative descriptions of nature and some of the MC’s internal musings. A book to be savored and enjoyed, never rushed.
Luke and Stephen get off to a rough start, but I very much enjoyed the slow but sure way their friendship developed. Stephen is a tough nut to crack. His heart, health, pride and self-esteem have suffered countless blows. He’s lost so much: his parents, his health, a job he loved, … and he finds it nearly impossible to believe he can have happiness again. He’s super prickly and antagonistic as a result, but so vulnerable underneath his hard exterior. Luke, on the other hand, is very open about how he feels and tries his hardest to form a connection with Stephen. He’s such a sweetheart and has his own cross to bear, unfortunately. Luke and Stephen both tugged on my heartstrings something fierce.
This book has an almost magical “Secret Garden” feel to it, with a prominent role going to Nature, with all its beauty and promise of growth and resilience. The garden slowly blossoming under Luke’s care wonderfully mirrors the progress both Luke and Stephen make as well.
Narration: Hamish Long is the perfect choice for this audiobook. His honeyed voice and wonderful ability to capture every emotion, however small or subtle, make this into a mesmerizing listen. I love the voices he does for both Stephen and Luke, though Stephen’s slight accent is especially enjoyable to listen to.
Number of stars out of 5: 6