Monday, June 30, 2014

Secrets of Neverwood Anthology

Overall Rating: A-
Amazon Purchase link (entire anthology which is cheaper than buying them individually)

Reviewer's Note: These three books are very interwoven, but even with that, it would be very easy to read any one of them as a stand-alone (each book runs about 50,000 words). That being said though, the entire series is excellent and I highly recommend you buy them as a it will save you money. Note: If you do plan to read them all, you need to read them in order because they do run chronologically in time.
Three men with vastly different lives are called home to Neverwood, the stately Pacific Northwest mansion of their youth. The one thing they share is a promise to Audrey, the woman they all called mother—that upon her death, they would restore the house and preserve it as a home for troubled boys.
But going home is never easy.
Cal struggles to recover from past heartbreak, while Danny fears his mistakes are too big to overcome. Devon believes he may never break down the barriers that separate him from honest emotion. And a benevolent spirit lingers in Neverwood's halls, intent on guiding her foster sons away from the mistakes of their youth and toward true love.
On the path to brotherhood, they discover the old mansion holds more than dusty furniture and secret passageways. An old mystery stirs up a new danger, one that could cost the men far more than just the house.

Title: One Door Closes
Author: G.B. Lindsey
My Rating: B+

Story Overview:
Years ago, Calvin Ware found a refuge in Neverwood, a home for wayward boys. Now, following the death of his foster mother Audrey, he’s returned to fulfill her request to restore the decrepit Victorian mansion to its former purpose.

Under the threat of repossession, Cal clashes with his foster brothers over restoration plans while fending off the unscrupulous developer who is breathing down his neck. Audrey’s well-meaning presence in his dreams does more harm than good as he struggles to cope with it all. What’s more, the contractor he hires to get the building up to code turns out to be Will Cabot, his high school flame.

As they begin working together, Cal finds he still has feelings for his first love. But his mistakes of years ago threaten their future, just as they ruined their past, and Cal knows he can’t withstand the heartbreak a second time.
My Rating: B+
My Review:
This book had a really different style to it...almost artsy, or high-literary. There was a lot that wasn't being said in the was just inferred. It's difficult to explain because it was very different. It wasn't a bad different, but it did take a bit of time/reading to get used to. 

As the reader you know that Cal and Will have a history, but you only get little bits and pieces of the details of that history. Also, Cal has other issues and he can feel his world unraveling as the stress in his life gets higher and higher. Like I said, so much of this is inferred...definitely all secretive and it keeps you guessing about what exactly happened although it's not hard to figure out the general details of the secrets. 

This is also the first book in the anthology so it's the one setting up the relationships between the brothers vs their relationship to their foster mother and now their conflict within the town. I definitely liked the entire set-up here. The three brothers all grew up within the home, but at different times, so they barely know each other. So not only are they dealing with the loss of a woman who was very dear to all three of them, they are also learning to know each other, and trying to figure out how to save the home because there is a powerful man in town who's determined that these three men will not get to keep the home. 

Then there is Will and Cal. It took forever to figure out exactly what happened between them, but there's no denying that they both still have feelings.They both just really suck at expressing them. There is so much that needs to be said between the two of them...which means that they both read way too much into the things that aren't said...and of course, they both are always reading things wrong. I liked them and their common goal of saving the house. I liked Will's job as contractor and how that puts him right in the middle of Cal's world, whether he's comfortable with him there or not. This one worked for me. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.


Title: The Growing Season
Author: Diana Copland
My Rating: A

Story Overview:

The four years since Danny Redmond left Neverwood have been heartbreaking, and past mistakes continue to haunt him, even after he returns home.Together with two foster brothers he barely knows, they plan to turn the house into a welcoming place for runaways once again—the dying wish of their foster mother, Audrey.

Danny has nothing to contribute to the restoration of the decrepit mansion, save for a gift for growing things. His efforts to bring Audrey’s beloved gardens back to their former glory are complicated by handsome landscaper Sam Ignatius…and the feelings developing between them, despite their fiery differences of opinion. But one voice gives him hope, the only one he’s always trusted—Audrey’s.Danny comes to care deeply for Sam, but things look bleak when Sam’s city councilman father threatens to have Neverwood torn down. Danny isn't surprised. Why would he expect the future to be different from his past? All his relationships end in disaster...

My Rating: A
My Review:

Angst, I love it and Danny absolutely has it in spades, but he's earned it...the hard way. Danny is the youngest of the three brothers. He also had a little bit different background than most the kids that went through the house, coming from a privileged background. So he truly didn't appreciate what he had in the house until it was gone. Danny ran away with his lover when he was only 17. That didn't work out so well for him and he ended up starving on the streets. Eventually that landed him in juvenile hall for stealing food. While there, he was attacked. He's never recovered in the 3 years since that attack. He has nightmares and doesn't get close to anyone...including his two new brothers. 

But when Sam comes into his world, that begins to change...with a bit of help from his mother's ghost. Danny's situation broke my heart...just in that he is so alone, so unwilling to trust anyone. There were several times throughout the story that I had tears in my eyes for him. But when he connects with Sam, he's there for him. I liked all the threads that tied these two men together...their common interest in the landscaping and the tie between their mothers' cancer/deaths. I also liked the way that this story played out on the drama of the house with the town. Both Sam and Danny were awesome in those scenes...fighting for their rights to keep the house as a foster home.

I loved everything about this one. Really, really good story!

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.


Title: The Lost Year
Author: Libby Drew
My Rating: A-

Story Overview:
Devon McCade is no stranger to adversity. As a photojournalist, he’s seen all manner of human struggle. And as a kid, it’s what brought him to Neverwood, to his foster mother Audrey. It’s what he’s facing now, as he and his foster brothers work to restore the once-stately mansion amidst surprising signs from Audrey herself.

But when another anguished soul arrives at Neverwood, Devon can’t hide behind his camera. Nicholas Hardy is certain he saw his runaway son, Robbie, in a photo Devon took of homeless children. Devon knows all too well that a young teenager on the streets doesn’t have many options—and Robbie has been missing for a full year.

Searching for Robbie with Nicholas stirs memories and passions Devon had thought long lost, yet knowing that Nicholas will leave as soon as Robbie is found keeps him from opening himself up to something permanent. Devon must learn to fight for what he wants to keep—his love, and his home.

My Rating: A- 
My Review:
Reading through the series, Devon has seemed the most well-adjusted of the three men. He was the oldest and one of the first boys to come through Audrey's house. But looks can hide a lot. Like all the boys who came through, Devon had issues and Audrey saw them. He couldn't handle that and left, never to come back, which broke her heart. He couldn't handle the emotions she made him feel. He didn't want to love her...or anyone.

As an adult, Devon has spent his life dealing with incredibly emotional things with the wall of his camera between him and them so that he doesn't have to feel. But when a desperate father shows up needing help to find one of the kids in his photos, it's hard for Devon to maintain that distance, especially as exhaustion and frustration wear down his defenses. 

There was so much to like about this story. I loved the "images" of what Devon does with his camera. I also really liked his strength that he showed to do what he did. The entire story line about Nicholas and his son worked for me....and made my heart hurt for those runaways that live like that on a daily basis. I loved the way that this one ended with Audrey's ghost and the single call that happened at the end...perfect way to end the series. What these men have built with this house is wonderful and I know it's probably not going to happen, but I'd love to see more stories from the house. I'd love to know what happens with Glenna, Tag, and Wes...and even Robbie...the kids that we got to know through the series.

Overall, I am so glad I chose to pick this one up for review. It's an excellent series and I enjoyed every minute of reading it. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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