After Dane’s fiancé left him at the altar, he takes some time off and rents a cottage in New England. He’s hoping to unwind and regroup and mend his shattered heart. The grounds around the cottage are beautiful, but something seems off as Dane walks near the river. It’s not long before Zachary is at his door bearing firewood to ease the chill.
Zachary is the property gardener, yet he prefers to garden at night. As Zachary has nowhere to stay, Dane invites him to stay at the cottage with him and the men begin a passionate relationship. Yet, Zachary disappears for long stretches of time and Dane doesn’t know anything about him. Not all is as it seems and Dane will have to unravel the mystery of Zachary or risk losing him for good.
I chose this book because I enjoy a short story and the mysterious element here seemed to offer intrigue. That’s as much of a positive spin that I can put on this book because it did not work for me at all.
At first, it was the dialogue itself. The story takes place in the New England area, but if it wasn’t for the mention of cell phones, I would not have thought it was present day. The food is kept in the “larder,” the linens and quilts are in the “big press,” and the characters often use the term, “I reckon.” Some of the sentences were also oddly constructed, including this one when it stated, “I could make a habit of fucking with you,” but that did not come across the way it was meant.
Zachary shows up at Dane’s door bearing wood for the fire. Zachary tells Dane that he is the gardener, but only gardens at night and Dane accepts this almost without question. Then, he invites Zachary to stay with him after a brief conversation, although one that doesn’t include Dane asking Zachary why he has nowhere to stay or no possessions. After one kiss, Dane is ready to spend his life with Zachary as he thinks, “The kiss from Zachary had sparked hope in Dane that he might love again,” and it all read as fairly ridiculous.
Dane and Zachary then spend their nights together in between Zachary gardening, and Zachary is always gone in the morning. While Dane is curious, he never asks Zachary anything about it and just waits for him to show up again. The story then takes on a paranormal spin as that would be the best description, although it’s perhaps on the fringe of paranormal. I think it was supposed to be a mystery, yet it wasn’t at all. And then when Dane starts to figure it all out, he is then welcomed into private spaces way too easily.
After only a short time spent together in random stolen moments of time, Dane is ready to change his entire life and can’t bear the thought of leaving Zachary when he has to return to California and he tells Zachary, “Don’t ever leave me. I can’t face life without you. Come with me to California when I leave at the end of the week, or I’ll move here.” In context, this produced a serious amount of eye rolling.
Because the mystery element was non-existent, it was then a matter of just seeing the story all the way through, which even for the short length was tedious. The characters, the dialogue, the overall storyline, it was all fairly a mess for me and this is certainly not a book I would recommend.