Title: The Rhubarb Patch (A Men of Gilead Novel)
Author: Deanna Wadsworth
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 284 Pages
At a Glance: Though the first chapter grabbed me, the magic sadly didn’t last. The consistency just wasn’t there, and as such, the story, overall, was somewhat hit and miss for me.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: 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, are 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.
Review: I could not resist this cover, you guys. It’s so eye-catching and lovely, and after reading the book, it’s even lovelier. I was also sucked in by the blurb—which is one of the better written blurbs I’ve read recently. Great cover…promising premise…I was pretty pumped to start The Rhubarb Patch. And, as if those things weren’t enough, there was this excellent opening!
A big, bald man in nothing but orange rubber boots and tighty-whities streaked across the yard toward Scott Howe, waving his hands and shouting.
With a beginning like that, I thought it was sure to be a slam dunk. However, though the first chapter grabbed me, the magic sadly didn’t last. The consistency just wasn’t there, and as such, the story, overall, was somewhat hit and miss for me.
The blurb really is excellent, so you have a pretty good idea of the storyline. Scott has inherited his grandmother’s house just on the outskirts of Gilead. Not only is country living a shock to his system, but his new neighbor, Phin, is a character like he’s never met before. But, despite their colorful meeting and obvious differences, they develop a quick friendship. For the most part, I enjoyed how their relationship played out. Wadsworth did a nice job of building things between them, and I really loved how they respected each other’s differences and opinions. Which is something that was HUGE for Scott. Theirs was a pretty sweet second-chance romance.
I loved Phin a lot. The fact that he and Nancy, Scott’s grandmother, had been best friends for seven years was fantastic, in that he was able to show Scott a side of his grandmother that he had no idea existed. The woman Phin spoke so fondly and reverently about seemed the polar opposite of the woman Scott’s mother had always described. Phin has experienced so much loss in his life: his partner, his beloved Aunt Nina, and now Nancy. It was Aunt Nina who instilled in Phin his love of gardening, and imparted much life wisdom to him as well. I loved, loved this:
“…She told me I’d been ignoring my garden for too long. It was no wonder my plants were dying and my life was full of weeds. But as long as there was breath inside me, I had the hope of spring. Another chance to get it right.”
And, I also loooved Sister Mary Katherine, perhaps the cutest schnauzer ever.
I liked Scott, too. But, he was definitely a harder sell. He was pretty self-absorbed and immature at times, and it did start to grate on me. Also, I had a hard time buying his relationship with his mom. She was horrible, guys. Her boyfriend was an openly homophobic asshole, yet she stayed with him and defended him to her gay sons. She just completely rubbed me wrong, and I couldn’t comprehend why Scott constantly put up with her bullshit. They went through tough times together. I get that. But, it felt false that Scott would continue to make nurturing that relationship a priority. To be fair, he did start to stand up for himself a bit later in the story. But, it wasn’t enough.
I thought it was cool that Scott was an author, specifically of LGBT sci-fi romances, and fun that he ran into a few fans, even in the small town of Gilead. But, I wish there would have been another mention of the great new bookstore in town, and the possibility of Scott doing a signing there. I felt like it warranted being worked back in at some point. I also felt like the book’s drama/conflicts were drawn out too much, and then came to a head all at the same time. In the end, it turned out to be quite predictable. It partly felt like Wadsworth thought, ‘Oh yeah, this hasn’t been resolved yet,’ and hurriedly, tried to tie off the loose ends.
I did enjoy reading about the picturesque town of Gilead, and am definitely intrigued at the prospect of reading more in this universe (the book is listed as Men of Gilead #1). I loved that the move to Gilead was a chance for Scott to not only find himself but also learn to be himself, and that Phin was integral in that growth in his City Mouse. And, of course, Gilead was the second chance at life that Phin so desperately needed and deserved. I’ll be keeping an eye out for what else is in store for this series.
You can buy The Rhubarb Patch here: