Wednesday, November 6, 2019

ARC Review: Where Love Grows by Jay Northcote

From the Blurb:
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. 
Luke is more used to a concrete jungle. 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.

Ky's rating:

"Where Love Grows" is different than what we're used to from this author. I always think of his books as stories full of light and colors. Something to calm you down and help you relax. I always pick a Jay story when I'm in a book slump because I know he'll be able to take me out of it. I also pick one of them when I'm coming out of a heavy read and want to decompress.

This story was darker, the characters weren't young guys enjoying their life, not having a care in the world. They were troubled people with problems and medical issues. They were looking for a second chance, a reason to start living again and believe in happiness.

I'm always reading everything this author publishes and end up giving it 4 or 5 stars, so it's obvious he's one of my favorite authors. This time though he showed me that he can write light-hearted stories about college aged guys falling in love with their Housemates, as well as heart-wrenching ones about people with insecurities and burdens who are trying to find a reason to live instead of merely exist.

Stephen went through something very difficult a couple of years before the beginning of the story and that experience left him with some physical as well as emotional scars. While his body is slowly getting stronger, his soul will never be the same again. He had to face rejection from the person who was supposed to stay by his side during the worst times. He used to be confident, athletic and outdoorsy. Now he's questioning everything, he rarely ventures outside his house and his body is left very weak in the aftermath of his illness.

Luke is the owner of a successful company that he wishes he didn't have to manage. One of his ideas made him a lot of money while he was still very young and he got lost in a reckless world full of parties and drugs. He has just managed to crawl out of that world and he's trying to find something to be passionate about.

When a mutual friend suggests that Luke is the perfect person to stay with Stephen for a few weeks and help him with the chores around the house and that this also is a great opportunity for a change of scenery for Luke, they decide to give it a try. But Stephen is bitter after what he went through and Luke realizes from the start that he'll be a difficult person to live with. He's patient though and tries to subtly help Stephen.

As the days turn into weeks they develop a rhythm and it's obvious that they are good for each other. Luke finds a new passion in gardening and Stephen is trying his hand at something new after Luke's encouragement.

A special mention should be made here for the cats and chickens that are the real heroes of this story. The three cats were very temperamental, each had its own character and it was easy to separate them. Each of the four chickens had her own name, inspired from a US State, that fit her personality according to Luke.

The epilogue was a great way to end the story and it gave us a glimpse into Luke and Stephen's future. I'm happy with were we left them.

I hope that Jay Northcote will write more books like this one, as well as that he'll keep giving us sunny books full of happiness and love.

*An ARC of this book was kindly provided to me in exchange for an honest review. *

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