Charmed and Dangerous

License to Thrill

Mission Irresistible

The Sweethearts' Knitting Club

You Only Love Twice

 
The Welcome Home Garden Club
by Lori Wilde
(Avon, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-006-198843-1
*****
It isnít often a tale comes together so well and leaves a reader feeling satisfaction, hope and warm all at the same time. At TRR, five heart keepers are not given out lightly. I enjoyed this story immensely and recommend it for handling the subject matter maturely, with thought and heartfelt romance. Donít hesitate to pick up The Welcome Home Garden Club.

Caitlyn Blackthorne Marsh is a widow of just 8 months, but her real love died almost 8 years ago. Caitlyn got pregnant with her high school boyfriend Gideon Garza. Shortly before they graduated, Gideon got in trouble and ended up leaving for the army, where he was promptly sent to the Middle East. Reports came back that he had been killed. Pregnant and finding herself disowned by her father, the local judge, she marries a widower who knew about her pregnancy, was willing to raise her child as his own and who didnít expect more than comfortable companionship out of their relationship. But he died and Caitlyn is left to raise her 8 year old son, Danny alone.

Gideon Garza was raised by a single mother who always was seeking men. Gideon knew his mother loved him, but he also knew she wasnít perfect. Caitlyn saved him as a teenager, showing him what love could be like. But when his mother passed away suddenly, leaving him information that his real father was a local rancher, Gideon didnít know what to think. When he confronted J. Foster Goodnight, the man denied him and his legitimate sons beat him up. In anger and impulsiveness, Gideon set their barn on fire. Judge Blackthorne, acting partly out of spite since he didnít think Gideon was good enough for his daughter, offered him jail or the army.

In Iraq, Gideon became a talented Green Beret; he also grieved for Caitlyn when his letters were returned unopened. He ended up being injured twice, once with temporary amnesia and once with an amputated arm. Gideon stayed in the Middle East after his discharge, thinking there was nothing left for him in Twilight, Texas.

Goodnight had remorse and named Gideon his heir in his will, partly because he felt his two sons turned out so poorly. The story opens as Gideon returns for the burial and reading of the will and Caitlyn discovers that he is still alive. Everyoneís life is turned upside down. Caitlyn has to rethink her feelings because while this is the Gideon she loved, he is different than the boy who left. He has nightmares, has had to learn to live with a prosthetic arm and has wounds from the war that are not necessarily seen at face value.

She has to figure out how to tell her son that his real father is alive and ready to have a relationship with him. Danny has grown up thinking that Mr. Marsh was his father. And she has to reconcile with her father, who betrayed her and yet, craves a relationship with his grandson.

Gideon, meanwhile, has to rethink all that he believed. He has a son he didnít know about, betrayals from Judge Blackthorne and of course, a father who never acknowledged him while he was alive but left him a fortune. Needless to say the two sons, Bowie and Crockett, are less than happy with the will and with Gideon in particular.

The romance is surrounded by the town of Twilight entering a contest to build a victory garden using an old carousel owned by Caitlynís family and a garden designed by Caitlyn. Gideon is hired to renovate the carousel while Caitlyn plants, helped by the Garden club. Since this is a part of a series, many familiar faces play a role in their tale.

The romance is handled with stellar methods by the author. They love and yet they are both vulnerable and gun shy. They talk and they worry and they find their way to a realistic relationship based on who they are today. This story was entertaining while it grabs the reader by the heartstrings. Yet, it handlesthe topic of the wounded warrior realistically and with sensitivity. The characters have depth and are written in a way that the reader can relate, even if they have never shared their experiences before.

The Welcome Home Garden Club is a keeper and a story that the reader will want to revisit many times.

--Shirley Lyons


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