Review: The Garden (Lavender Shores #2) by Rosalind Abel

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.

This series has fast become one of my most anticipated reads and The Garden did not disappoint!  I loved this just as much as I did The Palisade but for wholly different reasons.  Where the first book was full of swoon-worthy romance and tropey goodness, Gilbert and Walden's book had a more serious tone.  That's not to say I didn't laugh during this book because I LOL'ed quite a bit, especially with Walden.

One of the things I love most about this series and this author is that the characters and the story are never what I expected.  I will think a character is going to be one way but then they take off in a completely different direction.  It's fantastic!  Take, for instance, Walden.  A big, tall hunk of corn-fed man meat with an ass for days (dat ass!) and I'm expecting Toppy McTopperson, III with a big ole' chip on his shoulder.  What I got instead was a shy, sweet, awkward middle school science teacher with a big heart and an even bigger desire to have his field thoroughly plowed.

Walden is some kind of special.  He's incredibly awkward and oh so adorable.  Completely pocket-worthy.

Her brother? She was going to introduce me to her bother? A Bryant, obviously. Holy shit, what if she introduced me to Gilbert? How was I supposed to play that off? Obviously I wouldn’t look at her and be like Oh, we know each other. He used my ass so hard I was still feeling him this morning.  
Or worse, what if Gilbert wasn’t her brother, but a cousin or something and she introduced me to whomever her brother actually was. Then Gilbert walks up, and it looks like I’m trying fuck my way through the entire Bryant family?
You get in my pocket right now, Walden!  Do you hear me, Mister?  RTF Now!

And Gilbert... I thought I had him pegged from the first book but he surprised me even more. I thought he was a playboy who didn't take life very seriously and would be a bit immature.  Nope!  Not this Gilbert.  Yeah, he was rough around the edges and talked a good game but underneath was sensitivity and the kind of maturity that gets my motor running and will guarantee a successful read for me.  This is a man who conquers his demons the right way, through therapy, and isn't afraid to admit when he's afraid.

That wasn’t how being a man worked. How being an adult worked. You fixed yourself. You didn’t wait for love to do it for you. You fixed yourself, and then you earned love.
*dreamy sigh* 

I'm so incredibly in love with this series I can hardly stand it.  The way the author portrays these characters has me swooning.  The communication!  Lawd, the communication in this book is outstanding!  Communication is so damned sexy.  Gilbert and Walden actually talk to each other, about what they're thinking, about how they're feeling and it. Is. Fabulous!  There are zero Big Misunderstandings here.  Yes, they have secrets, but - and here's the kicker - they share them with each other.  I know, right?!?!?

You know what else is sexy?  Dirty talk.  Holy hotness of the mouth, this had some serious dirty talk in it!  I thought I was going to burst into flame during some of the scenes, especially that first scene.  Like, whoa.  Gilbert, man... he's got some serious talent there.  He could teach a class on it, like 'Dirty Talk 101' or something.  Hoo boy!

I want everyone to read this book.  I want everyone to read this series.  I want everyone to fangirl along with me.  I loved this so damned much!

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