“Because brothers don’t let each other wander in the dark alone.” ― Jolene Perry
Title: Secrets of Neverwood
Author: G.B. Lindsey, Diana Copland, Libby Drew
Publisher: Carina Press
Pages/Word Count: 431 Pages
Rating: 4.5 Stars Overall
Blurb: 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—that upon her death, they would restore the house and preserve it as a home for troubled boys.
But going home is never easy.
Cal struggles to recover from past heartbreak, while Danny fears his mistakes are too big to overcome. Devon believes he may never break down the barriers that separate him from honest emotion.
On the path to brotherhood, they discover the old mansion holds more than dusty furniture and secret passageways. Audrey’s spirit still walks its halls, intent on guiding “her boys” toward true love, and an old mystery stirs up a new danger—one that could cost the men far more than just the house.
Review: Secrets of Neverwood is a first for me. It’s an anthology of three separate stories by three authors that reads seamlessly, as though it’s a single book, a feat G.B. Lindsey, Diana Copland, and Libby Drew were able to carry off because their writing styles blended smoothly and the characters they featured in their individual stories flowed from one MC to the next without a hiccup in the telling.
Three men—Calvin Ware, Danny Redmond, and Devon McCade—aren’t related by blood but are brothers by virtue of the foster system, when Audrey Rasmussen opened her ancestral home to them. It’s upon Audrey’s death, after years of separation, that they discover they’ve become the heirs to Neverwood, their former foster home, a Victorian mansion that’s fallen into a state of disrepair and is under the looming threat of being lost to an unscrupulous real estate developer who’ll seemingly stop at nothing—even to the point of manic insanity—to get his hands on the property.
G.B. Lindsey opens the anthology and sets the tone of the collection with One Door Closes, as Calvin and his brothers return to Neverwood and set out on the difficult journey of building some form of relationship with each other, no small task considering the hard feelings between them, the residual pain of their individual pasts, and the fact that Devon doesn’t want to be there any longer than he needs to be.
One Door Closes, however, is Calvin’s story, and this is the way the anthology unfolds throughout, with Diana Copland’s The Growing Season being Danny’s book, and Libby Drew’s The Lost Year being Devon’s.
One Door Closes introduces not only the conflict that will weave its way through to the end of the book but also is the introduction to the supernatural element that exists throughout. Although deceased, Audrey’s spirit is a presence in the book, and she guides her three sons, each in his own way, as they fight and then begin to build a slow but close bond with each other, all while trying to figure out a way to reopen Neverwood to the LGBT youth in their small town.
Alongside the conflict and supernatural elements in this collection, each brother also has the opportunity to fall in love. For Cal, it’s a case of second chances. His high school boyfriend, Will, is the man who happens to be the contractor that shows up to give the men the fiscal bad news on the repairs it will take to keep the house from being confiscated by the developer. There’s a lot of angst and bad history for these two men to work through as they struggle to find a way to keep Neverwood, something the author capitalized on nicely.
Diana Copland takes over with Danny’s story, the youngest brother with as much wisdom as he has attitude, and the one with as much ammo in his past to be used against him as Cal has. Danny’s mistake in trusting the wrong man makes it difficult for him to trust anyone now, and a painful secret from his past makes it next to impossible to consider falling in love, but a shared passion for restoring the once exquisite landscaping at Neverwood delivers Sam Ignatius to their doorstep and eventually into Danny’s heart. Of the three relationships, I have to say I found Danny’s and Sam’s to be the most endearing.
Libby Drew is the closer in the collection with Devon’s story, and of the three, I’d say The Lost Year was the most emotionally lush, simply because of its subject matter. Devon’s photographs expose a yearlong mystery, when a father shows up at Neverwood and asks for Devon’s help to find his runaway son. Nick’s heartache at Robbie’s unknown fate and Devon’s need to help him, for better or for worse, meant the timing and the tenuous emotional connection between the two men was fragile at best, and gave this story some gut wrenching moments.
Overall, Secrets of Neverwood is a balanced mix of romance, paranormal intrigue, and family drama. I loved all these brothers and the men who loved them, pitied the fool who thought he could take what wasn’t his to have, and happily recommend you read the anthology to find your own favorite among these stories.
You can buy Secrets of Neverwood here: