Scott Howe has just moved into the house he inherited from his grandmother, and decides to start cleaning up the property. But when he’s out weed whacking, a crazy looking man in orange rain boots and white briefs—and nothing else—comes tearing over to him. Phineas Robertson is his neighbor, and saves Scott from destroying the rhubarb. Though it’s on Scott’s property, Phin and Nancy, Scott’s grandmother, have been growing it for years.
After that awkward start, the two men become friends. Scott starts learning about the grandmother he never knew, and what he’s learning is at odds with what his mother has always told him. And while he’s trying to put together the pieces of his grandmother, and what exactly the truth is, he’s attraction to Phin is growing.
Phin has his own baggage. After losing his husband, he hit rock bottom hard. But with Nancy’s help, he learned to live again. Now Scott presents something new. His attraction to Scott makes Phin feel guilty, and he’s not quite over his loss. But as they begin to open up to one another, and talk about their feelings and wants, they find a common ground. But just as they are settling into their relationship, something threatens to tear them apart.
I’ll be honest and say that this is not a book that I would have normally picked, based on the blurb alone. But there was something about it that intrigued me, so I took a chance. And while I have some mixed feelings about a couple of the plot points, I’m glad I picked it up.
So right off the bat, these guys are a study in opposites. Country and city. But as we get to know the characters, we see it goes even deeper. Scott is a moderately popular author who has no clue what he’s doing in a small town and with several acres of land. He’s lost his way, and is trying to find himself. Phin is a gardening and cooking extraordinaire, owns a dog and chickens, and is firmly grounded in his life. And a gun toting Republican to boot. What I really loved about these guys is that they find a common ground between them, become friends and make compromises, and really listen to each other. They aren’t perfect. Both men have growing to do, though in different ways, and they certainly make mistakes. But their flaws make them real, and they both grown and learn over the course of the story. Their chemistry totally works, and I enjoyed seeing them take the leap into a relationship together, despite everything in their pasts. The MCs really made this story enjoyable for me.
But some of the other plot points didn’t work as well for me. The storyline with Scott’s mother made a lot of sense, though I didn’t particularly care for the character. But in the end, it felt unfinished. After the big build up, it kind of fizzled toward the end. It was the same with Scott’s grandmother. While she’s passed away, and Scott can never know exactly what her thoughts and motivations were, it felt completely unresolved for me. I would have like that plotline in particular to be better wrapped up.
There’s also another storyline, a mystery of sorts, that I don’t want to say too much about. But it was predictable. And throughout the story, Scott repeatedly ignored warning signs—so much so I wanted him to stop being stupid about it. Then, the resolution was way too fast, and a little dramatic. And also not completely resolved. So these things didn’t work so well for me.
I also had a small issue with the pacing of the story. The first third or so was really slow. I mean, it was all good information, but it dragged in places. I kept waiting for the action to start. The middle third was great, and worked really well, as Scott and Phin talked and fell in love, and started their relationship. But then then last third was too quick, all the action happening at a breakneck speed. So the unevenness of the pacing worked against the story a little bit.
But overall, I enjoyed the story. I would have liked to see some things better resolved, but Scott and Phin’s compromise and conversation and their sweet friendship as it blossoms into love make the story worth it.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.