Guest Review: The Rhubarb Patch (The Men of Gilead #1) by Deanna Wadsworth

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 is 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.

Reviewer: R *A Reader Obsessed*

When I read the blurb, I thought to myself, this just might be some good comfort reading involving second chances at life and love, and overall I wasn’t wrong.

Scott is a people pleaser. So much so, he’s sacrificed his happiness over and over in basically all of his relationships. In an effort to perhaps reinvent himself and start anew, he totally takes advantage of his surprising windfall - he’s inherited a house from his paternal grandma whom he hasn’t heard from since he was a child. It’s a complete mystery as to why she left him her belongings, but he’s not going to look a gift horse in the mouth and quickly moves to her small rural town determined to make some big changes.

There, Scott meets his neighbor Phineas. A bit intimidating at first, and sorta comical later, he comes to appreciate Phineas’s clean living and self reliance. Scott is a duck out of water, but as he makes his grandma’s home his own and slowly learns more about her, he acclimates to the different lifestyle and starts to thrive.

This was mainly a story about growth. Scott needs a lot of it, especially never having heard of things like rhubarb or cobbler (no joke). He wondrously discovers new likes and dislikes and begins to make decisions for himself and not for others, while at the same time voicing his opinions instead of squashing them like he’s always done.

This book was also about Phineas since we get his point of view too. He’s had some serious losses, including Scott’s grandma who was his best friend. Understandably scared to put himself out there and love again, he doubts his own worthiness. However, life is a risk, and Phineas eventually realizes that happiness won’t come if he doesn't try.

Beware a slow burn regarding these two. Both want each other but are hesitant to take that next step. Scott has a lot of maturing to do and discovers some harsh truths while learning to stand on his own two feet. I particularly loved Phineas. He was the epitome of a gentle giant - sensitive and caring and protective - the kind of character I can read about all day. Though his story is often a sad one, he perseveres even though love is a scary thing to embrace.

As a warning, this has one of the most annoying moms ever, a sick aging pet schnauzer, and a quirky obsession Scott has with part of Phineas’s body. (The smex was hot, but every time he gustily went at Phin’s ‘titties”, it unfortunately took me out of the mood.) Throw in a little suspense, several good doses of drama-lama, and some tearful bittersweet scenes, and you’ve got quite the enjoyable story here. Some might find this a bit boring - the ins and outs of living a more laid back life and the daily goings on - but it’s no secret that I like that sort of thing. So, if you have to have constant action, plot twists, and fast forward momentum, this probably isn't for you, though the prior mentioned shenanigans might just be enough.

This was my first from Deanna Wadsworth, and it won’t be my last. It looks like a series is in the works here, and I know I wouldn’t mind at all revisiting Scott and Phineas! I definitely look forward to further stories and getting to know the other members of this quaint, small town community!

Thanks to the author/publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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