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.
I was a little nervous going into this story. I didn’t realize what illness our young man had battled and survived. GBS, otherwise known as Guillain-Barré syndrome, is a rare yet horrid illness. I had never heard about it until the doctors were able to slap a name on the condition that put my grandfather in the ER one snowy winter night. I was very close to my Gramps and I spent every evening in the hospital until he lost his battle with GBS, nearly three months after his first symptom appeared. This was over thirteen years ago but I can still recall with vivid clarity how my ornery gramps became a prisoner in his own body. He was the most stubborn and yet strongest man I’ve ever met. And he knew that out of all of the family, I would follow in his footsteps and be the same…for him. So after every test reveled more heartbreaking news, he knew to ask me (I became pretty damn good at reading lips) to tell them to remove his trach. Sorry. I’ve gone off course a bit. But what I mean to say is, this is personal to me and I wasn’t sure how I would handle the story. But I shouldn’t have worried so much. I took great joy in following along with someone who battled GBS and won. Thanks for writing this one Jay. I relished in following along with Stephen’s recovery. My Gramps also had a lovely garden and chickens. Once he had turkeys too, but my younger sis balled her eyes out at Thanksgiving that year, and that was the end of turkeys! Anywho, this beautiful story brought tears to my eyes and filled my heart. Now let me tell you why…..
I can tell you that you probably won’t like Stephen very much in the beginning. He is angry, bitter and ill-tempered. But please have patience with him. He lost a great deal of himself while fighting for his life. He beat GBS and he’s alive but he’s a shell of the man he once was. He doesn’t want help and he certainly won’t ask for it. However, when a situation is presented to him that seems to go both ways, he’s considering it. If having a stranger come stay with him and he can get his garden tidied up while helping this guy at the same time, well that just might work. He doesn’t know the details of Luke’s past but he doesn’t really care. They aren’t going to be friends and he’s not staying long. Just a few weeks during the summer to bring Stephen’s neglected garden back to life and then he’ll be off. But as the world around Stephen begins to flourish so does the light inside of him. He didn’t realize that it wasn’t only his garden that had been neglected. A transformation occurs and it brought tears to my eyes.
Love grows here my friends, so there’s loads to love! I loved witnessing Stephen’s tentative steps in retaking his life back. I loved watching Luke clear the path and assist in the renewal of Stephen’s path, which in turn allowed him to reawaken his soul. I absolutely adored how they found strength in one another to boost themselves. It wasn’t as if they did anything for each other, just gave them the courage to do it themselves. I loved the gardening and music. I loved the cautious intimacy they began to share. I loved the excitement over something as simple as…an egg. But most of all, I loved watching them blossom. It filled my heart and made me smile. I needed a book hug and this was a great big squeeze.
A grouchy bear that needs some loving. History from both men that will break your heart. But a beautiful new beginning that will mend all cracks and leave you full of hope.
If you’re looking for a lovely tale about two men that find everything (and perhaps even more than) they were looking for in a garden full of love, stop here…and join me in believing in a beautiful tomorrow.