Rating: 4 stars out of 5
City boy, sci-fi novelist, and recovering pushover Scott Howe doesn’t know what to expect when he inherits his grandmother’s house outside the quaint village of Gilead, Ohio—but it isn’t an enormous bald man in nothing but tighty-whities and orange rubber boots shouting at him to keep his weed whacker away from the rhubarb patch.
Scott has never met anyone like Phineas Robertson: homesteader, recluse… Republican. A tender—if unlikely—friendship grows over the summer while Phin and his schnauzer, Sister Mary Katherine, teach Scott about life in the country and the grandmother he never knew. Opposites attract, but widower Phin worries his secret will send Scott running faster than his politics, and Phin isn’t convinced he deserves a second chance at romance.
Scott is convinced—rural life, and his one-of-a-kind, older neighbor is the future he wants. Before he can settle in, his mother drops a bombshell that strains their already tenuous relationship, and a cousin who believes he is the rightful heir to the property puts Scott in danger. It’ll take a lot of compromises, and even dodging a few bullets before they’re out of the weeds, but nurturing something as special as true love always takes hard work.
I loved The Rhubarb Patch (Men of Gilead #1) by Deanna Wadsworth. As a fan of the ‘slow burn’ and a narrative paced according to the storyline, this book sang to me like a katydid on a summer country night. It was sweet, realistic, heartwarming, and loving. Wadsworth has given us a beautifully written story full of characters with heart, dealing with loss, homophobia, warring relatives, and a mother whose maternal abilities leave much to be desired. And all the people here feel true and layered, whether we like them or not, two legged or four legged.
And it all starts with a rhubarb patch.
Prepare to fall in love with the country here and the vegetables of the garden along with Scott as Phin educates his “City Mouse” in his newly acquired home and gardens. As the men tentatively learn about each other (also as Scott learns about the grandmother he never knew, who was adored by Phin and the people of Gilead) and Phin starts to open up to Scott about his past and his loss, the reader is pulled into the growing intimacy of their shared lives and relationship and country living. We watch and listen as Scott’s affection, then love for this small house/farm and neighbor develops and deepens. And the same for Phin. We laugh and are charmed by Sister Mary Katherine, Phin’s aging schnauzer. And yes, made more than a little crazed by Scott’s dysfunctional mother, her homophobic boyfriend and attitudes towards Scott’s life. But always the author keeps us actively engaged in the relationships, the town, and especially in Phin and Scott’s relationship as the seasons change and the gardens along with it.
There are several elements here that Wadsworth handles beautifully. As they aren’t mentioned in the blurb, I won’t reveal them here. But the manner in which it is revealed, handled as a part of their lives and connected to another character is smooth, intelligent, and believable.
When I finished the story, I was happy knowing I wasn’t done with the town of Gilead, this couple and the person who most likely will be getting their romance next. You see I’d fallen just as deeply in love with them all as Scott had and now I can’t wait for my next visit to come around. I want to check in on them, see how everyone is doing and see how the next romance will develop…slowly….will be my guess. I highly recommend you pick up this book and get reading before the next one comes out.
Cover Artist: Anne Cain. What a great cover. From the men, to the patch to Sister Mary Katherine over in the corner waiting to steal some vegetables. It’s perfect!
ebook, 284 pages
Published July 24th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
SeriesMen of Gilead #1 settingOhio (United States