Title: Where Love Grows
Author: Jay Northcote
Publisher: Amazon/Kindle Unlimited
Category: Contemporary Romance
At a Glance: Northcote lays out a romantic narrative full of emotion and no small amount of angst. Where Love Grows gives good drama, some moments of idyll that lead to romantic expressions, and there are smiles along the way too.
Reviewed By: Lisa
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.
Review: Jay Northcote takes the concept of planting and cultivating seeds in a garden, watching the fragile shoots sprout and grow, and applies it in a metaphorical and romantic sense to his novel Where Love Grows. The seeds of love between the story’s protagonists, Stephen and Luke, are planted in an inhospitable soil, and the germination of those feelings depends fully upon building trust and their willingness to reach for the light in spite of their darkness. Both Stephen and Luke are coping with personal challenges that influence their relationship. Each of them has lost his family, through tragic means, which one might assume would have given them some common ground to stand on, but to reveal such private and personal hurts was antithetical to the nature of their relationship at the start, and it caused no small amount of issues along the way.
Stephen is recovering from a debilitating illness which has left him physically weakened and, as a result, angry as well. In short, he feels impaired by his own body, and that impairment is the proverbial thorn in his side. His enjoyment of the outdoors and the landscapes surrounding his home in the Welsh countryside, which included the hard work and dedication he paid to his garden, was stolen from him in a way that has not only soured his view of life but also his opinion of himself. His body, which was at one time healthy, fit, and robust, is now more like an anchor that weighs him down and keeps him from moving freely through his days the way he’d once done and had taken for granted. His rehabilitation is slow and rife with setbacks which further his feelings of bitterness and inadequacy, and Luke is present to bear the brunt of it.
Luke’s affliction, on the other hand, is not a physical one, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less debilitating. Depression and addiction nearly catapulted Luke over the edge—suicide was something he considered an option at one point—and he’s still struggling with his dependence on alcohol when his business manager and friend, Will, suggests Luke needs to leave London for a while and embrace a change of scenery. When Will comes up with the idea of Luke spending some time at Stephen’s, helping around the house and working to restore his beloved garden to its original splendor, there is no intentional matchmaking involved in the suggestion. The feelings that blossom between Stephen and Luke grow naturally, through shared proximity, but that doesn’t mean those feelings flourish untended. Rather, they nearly wither under the clouds of past hurt.
Northcote lays out a romantic narrative full of emotion and no small amount of angst. He brings together two hurting souls who aren’t always kind to each other, neither want strings or complications, and there are fears of abandonment thrown in as well. And, in fact, Stephen and Luke aren’t always kind to themselves either. There are moments when Luke plays the sunshine that Stephen reaches for, but there are clouds never far off that dim the wee small hours of the times they come together for sex and comfort. As their connection grows, so grow the doubts and so go the missteps and the wrong words spoken that threaten to choke any progress they made over the summer months they spend together.
Where Love Grows gives good drama, some moments of idyll that lead to romantic expressions, and there are smiles along the way too. For fans of genre romance that focuses on how and why two imperfect people fit and how they harvest a future from what, at first blush, feels like the barren grounds of the pasts that came to shape them, this novel delivers.
You can buy Where Love Grows here:
[zilla_button url=”http://authl.it/B07YCL8YD5?d” style=”black” size=”large” type=”round” target=”_blank”] Amazon/Kindle Unlimited [/zilla_button]