Dana reviews Secrets of Neverwood by G.B. Lindsey, Diana Copland, and Libby Drew (Published by Carina Press, June 30, 2014, 431 pages) A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
This week at RGR we were tasked to review a book with more than one author. I chose Secrets of Neverwood because I have read books by two of the authors before and enjoyed them and I like a good ghost story. As long as it’s not too scary. The blurb definitely peaked my interest.
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.
Secrets of Neverwood includes:
One Door Closes by G.B. Lindsey
The Growing Season by Diana Copland
The Lost Year by Libby Drew
Stories also available for purchase separately.
This is a collection of three stories written by three different authors that revolve around three former foster kids raised at Neverwood. Each story brings something different for the reader to enjoy while continuing an overall story arc involving the rebuilding of Neverwood and someone who wants to stop it from happening.
One Door Closes by G.B. Lindsey- This was a great start-off story to the collection. We are introduced to all three brothers, but this story is about Cal. He is just one of many boys taken in by Audrey Rasmussen, who ran a home for boys who were gay or questioning. He was the only boy who came back to visit after leaving the home. After Audrey passes away Cal, Danny, and Devon all come back to Neverwood, but the house is in disrepair and Cal calls in a contractor. He is surprised when it turns out to be his ex-boyfriend from high school, Will. Things between them hadn’t ended well, but both were drawn back to their hometown and to each other.
There is definitely awkwardness at first between them, but neither can deny they still have feelings. When they do get together, it is very sweet, but sex between them is downplayed in this story. But there are other things going on to fill the pages for sure. A man named Eric Angus is determined that they fail to restore the property so it can revert to him, secrets of the residents of Neverwood are revealed, and Cal receives ghostly visits in his dreams from Audrey. I really liked how the foster brothers end up coming together to restore their mother’s legacy and it’s even better when Will joins their fight.
The Growing Season by Diana Copland- This story features Danny, the youngest foster brother. His brothers question why he has come back and why Audrey asked him to return because he left the home before he aged out. Danny had a habit of trusting the wrong people when he was younger and his backstory seems to be a bit more traumatic than the other two brothers. Now he has come back after working for a top landscaper in L.A. The job is too big for just him, though, and Will’s friend Sam shows up with two helpers to work on the dilapidated gardens.
Danny is very distrustful of people, and he sort of resents the help at first, but he can’t deny his attraction to Sam. Of course that means he pushes the other man away. Sam is only back in town because his own mother is dying and working keeps his mind off of it for a few hours a day. Danny can empathize because of his own recent loss, but it’s still hard for him to trust Sam. Angus still tries to cause trouble by convincing the city council to rezone the property of Neverwood and isn’t above using Danny’s history in juvie against the new owners.
Eventually, both Danny and Sam need someone to lean on and resistance is futile. I definitely felt for both men in this story and enjoyed the continuing fight against Angus. I just wish they could shut him up for good already. Audrey also inserts herself into their relationship as well, speaking to Cal and guiding him through putting his trust in the right people. I also liked that the brothers get even closer, letting down more barriers. Sam finds himself getting along better with is own father which was sweet because help came from an unexpected source.
The Lost Year by Libby Drew- Devon was one of Audrey’s most missed foster sons. The memory of him lingers in Neverwood, even though he doesn’t understand quite why Audrey wanted him to have part of the house on her passing. He was never able to let his guard down after his father betrayed him and sent him into foster care. He feels like he failed Audrey by not opening up. His history is a bit sad, but as a successful photojournalist he is the only one that can help financially with renovations. Even though he feels like he has closed himself off from everyone, it seems like he is actually doing his best to help others. Even his photos are taken with the hope that when they are seen, people will take notice of the people in need.
One of his photos definitely touches Nicholas. His son, Robbie, ran away a year before, and he hasn’t stopped searching even when it seems likely that his son is dead. But Devon’s picture shows him to be alive, at least when it was taken. Devon can’t resist Nicholas’s plea for help finding Robbie. There is a lot of miscommunication between Devon and Nicholas at first. Devon assumes the other man is straight because he has a kid. Too many heated looks. a revelation, and despair of fruitless searches eventually lead the two men together, though.
At the risk of spoiling things, Robbie is found and Devon brings the father and son back to Neverwood, where all of Audrey’s intentions begin to make sense and her presence gets stronger than ever. Robbie and Nicholas are treated with an appearance and Angus goes off the deep end in his latest attempt to get into the house. There is a touch more violence in this book, and a little bit more sexiness.
I feel like it’s a little bit difficult to review and rate the stories on their own, because the story takes place over all three books and it has to be rated as a whole. I really enjoyed each story so much. Even though each book covered a different brother and their love interest, I felt connected to all the characters in every story. The ending was satisfying for all, except maybe Angus, and I enjoyed it, but I did want more because I came to care for them all so deeply. The stories were great and eventually were released on their own, and I can honestly recommend each of them, but it would be much better to read all of them together as they are in this collection.
About the authors:
G. B. Lindsey was born and raised in California, where she earned her undergraduate degree in Literature and Creative Writing from UC Santa Cruz. Her first love has always been writing: as a child, she cultivated such diverse goals as becoming “a cowgirl… and a writer” or “a paleontologist… and a writer.”
Aside from her salacious and ongoing affair with the horror genre, she loves to write sci-fi, romance, historical fiction, and short stories. Other hobbies include playing the piano, reading voraciously, the occasional period drama movie night, and devouring scary film after scary film. She recently moved back home from Newcastle upon Tyne, where she earned her Master of Arts in Creative Writing, and now lives in Sacramento.
Diana Copland began writing in the seventh grade, when she shamelessly combined elements of Jane Eyre and Dark Shadows to produce an overwrought Gothic tale that earned her an A- in creative writing, thanks entirely to the generosity of her teacher. She wrote for pure enjoyment for the next three decades before discovering LiveJournal and a wonderful group of supportive fanfiction writers, who after gifting her with a “Best New Author” Award encouraged her to try her hand at original gay fiction.
Born and raised in southern California, Diana moved to the Pacific Northwest after losing a beloved spouse to AIDS in 1995. She lives in eastern Washington near her two wonderful adult children and her surprisingly supportive parents.
Libby glimpsed her true calling when her first story, an A.A. Milne /Shakespeare crossover, won the grand prize in her elementary school’s fiction contest. Her parents explained that writers were quirky, poor, and often talked to themselves in supermarket checkout lines. They implored her to be practical, a request she took to heart for twenty years, earning two degrees, a white-collar job, and an ulcer, before realizing that practical was absolutely no fun.
Today she lives with her husband and four children in an old, impractical house and writes stories about redemption, the supernatural, and love at first sight, all of which do exist. She happens to know from experience.
Libby’s STATE OF MIND received rave reviews for being fast, clever, and relentless and was nominated for a Bookie Award for Best M/M Novel of 2011. 40 SOULS TO KEEP, Libby’s third novel, has been described as intense and heart-poundingly good and was praised by Publishers Weekly for maintaining a high level of suspense.
An avid supporter of gay rights, Libby donates her time to the Trevor Project and organizations that work to support marriage equality.