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[Book Review] The Growing Season By Diana Copland & Paramount Coffee Love Grows: Toasted Maple Nut

The Growing Season By Diana CoplandTitle: The Growing Season
Series: Secrets of Neverwood Book 2
Author: Diana Copland
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication date: June 30th 2014
Page Count: 145 pages
Age Rating: Adult (explicit sexual scenes, mentions of past assault of a minor)
How I got my hot little hands on it: Received an ARC to review
Publisher’s page: The Growing Season

Secrets of Neverwood Book Two

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, he plans to turn the decrepit mansion into a welcoming place for runaways once again–the dying wish of their foster mother, Audrey.

Danny has nothing to contribute to the restoration, save for a gift for growing things. But 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. 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. Why should Danny have expected the future to be different from his past? All his relationships end in disaster…

Three foster brothers are called home to Neverwood, the stately Pacific Northwest mansion of their youth. They have nothing in common but a promise to Audrey, the woman they all called mother…

Secrets of Neverwood is a multi-author trilogy; One Door Closes, The Growing Season and The Lost Year can be enjoyed either as a continuity or as standalones.

My Review

Secrets of Neverwood is a three book trilogy with each book following one of three foster brothers: Calvin, Danny, and Devon. The brothers, who vaguely remember and feel no brotherly love towards each other, come back to their old home when their foster mother Audrey dies, leaving her run-down family home, once a grand Victorian estate, to the three. The men run afoul of a deceptive developer who will do anything to get his hands on Neverwood and must learn to work together, trusting and opening up to each as brothers, to keep the house and carry on Audrey’s legacy of taking in gay or questioning youth who have nowhere else to go. Under the overarching storyline of keeping and bringing Neverwood back to its former glory, each book deals with the men discovering Audrey is still with them in spirit, coming to terms with personal demons, and finding love.

At twenty-one, Danny is the youngest of the returning brothers and The Growing Season is his story. Unlike Calvin or Devon, Danny Redmond didn’t age out of the home, he ran away at seventeen. Life wasn’t easy for him out there and he brings the ghosts of his horrific experiences back with him when he returns home. He has no money to contribute to the restoration of Neverwood, but he does have experience as a landscaper and the memories of helping Audrey in the gardens. Danny bristles at having his toes stepped on when Sam Ignatius, a landscape architect from Seattle, is brought in to help with the grounds. Eventually Sam and Danny come to an understanding – and then more as they get to know each other, but Danny’s past is still affecting his present and Sam is dealing with a terminally ill mother and a father who’s never been happy with his son’s sexual orientation.

The Growing Season was my favorite book in The Secrets Of Neverwood series.  The angst was higher and the emotion more heartbreaking than the other stories. I teared up at parts and really felt for poor Danny and the things he’s been through. I don’t want to give anything away, but I feel the need to give a trigger warning for assault of a minor (and it’s pretty graphic too).  After what he’s been through no one can fault him for having adverse reactions to intimate situations, and Sam’s gentle and patient nature was much appreciated, as was Danny being strong for Sam when he needed someone to lean on.  Audrey helps Danny on his path to recover as well, speaking to him as a voice in his head that only he can hear (which, no wonder, makes him feel like he’s going crazy sometimes).

This was overall a more intense book than book one (One Door Closes – Calvin’s story) with more straight forward prose and more graphic intimate scenes.  It breaks your heart in parts, but it puts it back together again with the love and understanding Danny and Sam share. It might not be for everyone, but I definitely enjoyed this book very much.

I absolutely recommend this book. This is the first time I’ve read Diana Copland, but any author that can make me feel so much emotion is definitely one I’ll look for and read again.

Because attraction and affection grow into love as Danny and Sam are able to come together sweetly and give each other respite from the bitterness of their life experiences, I’m recommending Paramount Coffee Love Grows: Toasted Maple Nut – a medium blend coffee that combines sweet maple flavor with the nutty, slightly bitter taste of hazelnuts.

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