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Publisher's Summary

Beautiful Gilbert Bryant designs jewelry for the rich and famous, and he made his escape from his gossipy little hometown of Lavender Shores. However, with so many friends and family, he keeps getting pulled back. When he attends his best friend’s engagement party, Gilbert can’t help but sample one of the new men in town. It’s just some innocent—or not so innocent—fun. Nothing that will even cross his mind once he gets back to his everyday life.

Walden Thompson dreamed about living in Lavender Shores since he visited as a child. He finally gets his chance, and he embraces the opportunity to start over, to become someone new. He leaves both hurts and dangerous habits in the past, where they belong. When Gilbert crosses his path, Walden gives in to his baser instincts. He can indulge in the carnal pleasures this once and still be okay. Their few hours together haunt Gilbert, the two-hundred-mile buffer from home no longer shutting out the past or the sexy man he left behind. Walden is just beginning to recover from the smoldering encounter with Gilbert when they are thrust together once more. This time, neither of them can walk away, no matter how hard they try. But when their pasts crash into each other as surely as the magnetism that pulls them together, walking away may be the only option.

©2017 Wings of Ink Publications, LLC (P)2017 Wings of Ink Publications, LLC

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

3.5 Stars

The Garden is about two men with troubled pasts who aren't looking for, but both desperately need, someone special in their lives. Ultimately this is a sweet romance featuring a hookup that becomes a friends with benefits thing to something more.

The dual POV works beautifully here. There's a lovely thread of hurt/comfort throughout, and while there's lots of sex, it's supported through the characters getting to know one another...sometimes even when putting themselves out there makes them uncomfortable.

There is some humor that helps lighten the angst, and a lot of passion and emotion to the story that I wish were highlighted more in the narration.

Kirt Graves delivers a more subdued reading with different character voices, but only mild embellishment in tone to highlight some of the humor or passion.

In my opinion I think this audio will appeal more to those who prefer to have less "performance" or "acting" in their audiobooks.

Bottom line, this is a sweet and angsty romance with some humor, lots of hot sexy times, and a pretty awesome HEA.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Karen
  • Belgium, Europe
  • 09-18-18

Moving hurt/comfort story. Brilliant narration.

Overall: Very emotional hurt/comfort story that gives you all the feels. Even more so thanks to the wonderful narration, which really adds an extra layer of intensity to an already deeply moving romance story. Blissfully satisfying HEA.

Story:
Local manwhore meets & corrupts innocent new teacher. That’s how Gilbert, and the local busybodies, first perceive what happens between him and the cute teacher with the adorable red glasses. But of course, there’s so much more to this story…

I loved that Walden saw through Gilbert’s carefree, love ‘em and leave ‘em attitude to the wounded bird hiding beneath all that. The Gilbert we meet in the first chapter, desperate to keep his vulnerable heart safe, seems miles removed from the man that falls in love with Walden. Gilbert really is the perfect human embodiment of Walden’s secret garden, a hidden, closed-off wilderness just waiting for a loving hand to help him blossom once more. I absolutely loved that analogy.

I also adored all the references to beloved children’s classics like The Secret Garden and Anne of Green Gables, Disney even. It made me like Walden even more. He can no more stop himself from falling in love with his Gilbert, then Anne with an e could keep herself from loving hers.
There’s no bickering, however, between Gilbert and Walden, like there is between the happy couple in the Anne of Green Gables series. Walden and Gilbert are careful with the other’s emotions from pretty early on, and whatever hurt they feel is more due to their own painful histories and an understandable hesitance to risk heartbreak again.
They are so great together, providing the comfort and acceptance that each man so desperately needs, even when they are trying to hold back. So scared of being hurt again.

Walden has suffered a horrible betrayal, and still carries a lot of shame with him for how he dealt with his pain in the aftermath. Him opening up to Gilbert about his past made for a deeply touching scene. My heart ached for him.

We know from early on that Gilbert has been in therapy for years, so we know something awful is hiding in his past to leave such scars. But oh… when that revelation finally comes… I wanted to punch something. I hated that he took on all the responsibility for “his” wrongdoing , when in fact it was he who’d been wronged, not to mention betrayed by a person who should have looked out for him.

I felt relieved and almost giddy when they finally felt free to truly choose each other, and to choose happiness together. Not a moment too soon and very much deserved.
What an amazing couple, sigh. Talk about a book-hangover.

Narration:
Kirt Graves did an outstanding job at narrating this story, making me feel as if I stepped right into the lovely world of Lavender Shores. He has a wonderfully pleasant voice and I loved how he brought alive the characters. I think he did absolutely amazing in giving a voice to Walden and Gilbert.
Luckily no over-acting, but bringing just the right amount of emotion and tension to each scene.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

4 star book with 5 star narration!

Independent reviewer for Archaeolibrarian, I was gifted both the ebook and audio file of this book.


This is book two in the series, but can be read as a stand alone. Andrew and Joel from book one take part here, and I loved that, but you don't need their story to follow this one.


Gilbert is in town for Andrew and Joel's engagement party. He fins solace in Walden, the man who catches his eye at the gym. But it will only ever be sex for Gilbert, right? He doesn't do relationships. Neither does Walden, but it creeps up on them both and neither wants to walk, or commit. But they both have a dark past. Can they overcome that??


I said in my review for book one, The Palisade, that I was looking forward to Gilbert's story, and I was not disappointed.


His past, the one he ran from town for, smacks him in the face every time he comes back to town. And he hates being in Lavender Shores for that reason. But he won't let Andrew, his best friend, down. Meeting Walden, and then discovering his profession, and then Gilbert STILL not being able to walk away, is a shock to his system. Walden's past has a darker undertone and one that could well have been a deal breaker but Gilbert is like...and??


I loved how both men fought hard against their feelings! Loved that they battled with their innermost desires and insecurities. Loved that they were able to overcome it all.


Again written in the first person, from both men. Because I KNEW this going in, I was aware and able to set my mind in the right place, cos lord knows, I say it often enough that i don't like first person books!! But because I KNEW that, I really did enjoy it. And you do get a better sense of the person in the first. Not sure I would have got it all from a third person book. huh. Check me out! Might actually be getting over it!


I've filed this on the Over 18 shelf, because there are some darker undertones, and some might find them difficult to read. Nothing is described in great detail, but you are told about them.


I have book three, The Veranda, to read shortly. That is Donovan's book, Gilbert's therapist. I loved their interaction here. I look forward to getting into Donovan's mind!


Creeping up to 4 stars


Audio Review


Kirt Graves continues to narrate this series. And he is growing on me!

He manages to get across things that I miss when reading, the depth of his emotions is powerful and comes across amazingly well. I do find, more and more, I'm enjoying LISTENING to first person books, and that can only be because of the outstanding narration of those books.


Graves voices for Gilbert and Walden are just what I heard in my head (do you do that? hear people talking in your head when you are reading?? ) when I read this book. When Joel and Andrew pop up, the voices are consistent from The Palisade. I had no trouble keeping up with multi person conversations.


When Walden tells Gilbert what he did, Graves manages to pull out all the stops and I cried at that bit! I knew it was coming, of course, but I wasn't prepared for it, actually hearing it in Walden's voice.


I cannot wait to see what Graves does with Donovan and Spencer (book3) but I'm especially keen to get my hands on Lamont and Tyler's story (book4)


4 stars for the book
5 stars for the narration
4.5 stars overall


**same worded review will appear elsewhere**

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Zara
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • 02-15-18

Story was excellent, narrator was not

This was my first Lavender Shores novel. It was just the right amount of intrigue and sexy steaminess. Right when you thought the story would end, a new twist would appear. Five stars for story and I will definitely be checking out another on the series. Three stars for narration. I listen to a lot of audio books and this narrator blew out my speakers with weird tones of bassiness. Also, it was confusing to tell which character he was being and his voice was not at all how I imagined the characters. I think the quality of the recording also had something to do with it.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Stunning Story

I loved the story when I first read it and didn't think that I could possibly appreciate it more, but I absolutely do.. Gilbert first catches your attention in the first page and doesn't leave you until the end, and both men stay with you
Gilbert and Walden, individually believe that their lives are as good as it can be and don't expect much more but they have surprises in store.
Walden has always wanted to live in Lavender Shores but never could he anticipate everything that Lavender Shores would be for him.
The wonderful thing about this presentation is that even if you have read the story, you will noticed so many wonderful details, emotions that just add so much more.
I so enjoyed spending time with these men again and I'm sure I will return to them in the future.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Two Wounded Souls find each other

This is my fourth visit to Lavender Shores because I’ve been reading/listening to them out of order. So if you’re in the same situation, no worries. This book picks up after Book One with Andrew and Joel celebrating their engagement.

Gilbert is very close to Andrew, so he leaves his home and jewelry business in Tahoe for a few days and heads to his hometown of Lavender Shores. He plans to keep this visit as short as possible, because unlike Andrew, he has no desire to stay or, in his case, come back. Lavender Shores is a gay-friendly community where people are embraced and loved for who they are, not who they are attracted to. For good reason, however, Gilbert has tried to put the town in his rearview mirror. But the love of family keeps drawing him back.

Walden is the opposite. He has chosen Lavender Shores specifically so he can feel safe and welcomed for the first time in his life.

The two men meet with a bang, of sorts, only to later discover they know all the same people and have, in fact, been invited to the same engagement party.

As with many of my favourite romances, Ms. Abel has created characters with flaws. Flaws the men believe would turn the other away from him if he knew the truth. Both men have serious incidents in their pasts that have shaped who they are today. Those pasts are slowly revealed because despite initial hurt feelings and apparent rejections, there is an undeniable draw between the two men. They have the ability to help heal each other – if they can get that far. Because although the initial attraction was physical – specific body parts – the connection is two wounded souls finding each other.

In the end, they are almost kept apart by their own belief of unworthiness. I will leave the story of the garden for you to discover, but it is another magical and enchanted place in Lavender Shores, much as the Palisades was. Another heaven on earth where one can be made whole again.

I’m a sucker for a character who has endured, survived, and is – even if he doesn’t know it – seeking redemption. I believe in the power of forgiveness. It is the reason I love Ms. Abel’s books.

Kirt Graves narrated this book as well as the first in the series and I’m glad. He does a good job, bringing the characters to life and making the listening enjoyable. I look forward to the next release, hopefully sometime soon.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Loved the second half of this story

The Garden is #2 in the Lavender Shores series, but this story can easily be read as a standalone. It features the main characters from book 1, Andrew and Joel (their engagement party and wedding happens here), and also Gilbert, whose story is now told.

Both Gilbert and Walden have issues that keep them from committing to a relationship early in the story. Gilbert has been in therapy because of an incident that still haunts him. He’s done his best to avoid visiting Lavender Shores and the incessant gossips, but has returned to celebrate Andrew and Joel’s engagement.  We eventually find out what happened when he was sixteen and the guilt that still plagues him makes it difficult for him to enter into a relationship with anyone. He’s all about hookups and anonymous sex, which for me seemed to be entirely contradictory to his past. And this runs throughout the story, he feels guilty for his past actions yet he still behaves in a similar manner. He’s arrogant yet not confident enough to begin a relationship or go for what he wants.

Walden comes across as a geek, albeit a sexy one. He’s a new teacher in Lavender Shores and has his own heartbreaking past that he’s trying to forget and keep hidden, lest anyone should feel sorry for him. Once bitten, twice shy could be his motto.

Right from the start when these two hot guys meet, they are instantly attracted physically and have an intense hookup in a gym's steam room. And that’s fine. It’s just sex, or so they keep telling themselves. More hookups follow, along with a lot of internal reflection and doubting. The more they spend time together, the more their feelings get in the way. Instead of going with it, they try to avoid each other and what it could mean for them. And this I found quite frustrating, all the will they or won’t they as they give in and change their minds once again. This goes on for over half of the book. They don’t think they're good enough for each other or want to risk a chance of happiness.

They struggle with their pasts and these are gradually revealed as the story progresses. You can sort of understand why they behave the way they did. It didn’t quite work for me, I’m afraid.

I enjoyed the second half of the book much more, where they kind of work at being together and finally give it a go. They work through issues and doubts together. The Garden features in some of these scenes and is partly responsible for their healing. The story moves to a lovely HEA with a little angst thrown in from Walden’s ex.

The story was well written and it was great to have the dual point of view. The chemistry between these two characters is hot and explosive from the start, with plenty of sizzling scenes whenever they get together, whether they are talking, kissing, or making out.

Kirt Graves is new to me and, as always, it took me time to adjust to a new narrator. His voice is soft and steady, and I gradually came to like his style of storytelling. He created subtle differences in the characters’ voices and overall I enjoyed this audio version.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Just another fabulous story!!

I love listening to this amazing story. Gilbert and Walden are one of my favorite couples. So I love having an audiobook for this fabulous story. And if course Kirt Graves doesn't disappoint. Kirt is one of my favorite narrator and he did an amazing job with this one. Everyone of the characters are brought to life and I loved listening to every minute of it.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

wow

I had such a fun time listening to this story. I loved the ebook but listening to it was so much better. The narrator really brought the story to life.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • AnnA
  • 01-13-18

Awesome

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Garden?

Having previously read the book, Kirt translates it verbally bringing the characters to life just how I imagined them to be.