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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.
First of all – while Secrets of Neverwood can be read as stand-alone, I honestly think that reading all three stories will make the experience better, especially in understanding these guys while uncovering the secrets that Neverwood keeps. All three stories are intertwined, since these authors write about three “brothers” (I use the term loosely, since they are not born from same parent but they all stay in Neverwood as foster brothers). So the problem will start in Cal’s story and end in Devon’s. Now, individual reviews…
** One Door Closes: 3 stars **
I don’t know if it is because this one is set to be the ‘opener’ of the anthology, but I found the romance underwhelming. It is shadowed by the process of Cal trying to keep Neverwood in the family and bring it back as a place for teenagers with issues. It seems that the interaction and romance between Cal and Will happens only in the form of memories. It feels like the romance is supposed to happen in the past only, and not very much in the present. It is too bad, since I always like second chances stories.
I also find that the writing makes Cal feel detached to me as a reader. I don’t even understand his problems of depression and using drugs to deal with it until much later. It is like the author keeps some information to herself and I’m struggling with the clues she left behind.
** The Growing Season: 4 stars **
This story is my favorite among the three. I find Danny a strong character, even if he is the youngest. Danny is the rock that Sam needs when he struggles with his own family, even if Sam is older than Danny. And, it is quite endearing to read how Danny practically becomes the caretaker of Audrey’s garden.
In this story, the romance and the problem handling is balanced beautifully. I also love Audrey’s presence in here. In Cal’s story, Audrey comes in dreams. But for Danny, Audrey comes in voices. Danny hears Audrey talk to him and I find that lovely. Because as the youngest and the one experiencing the non-easy life (being sentenced to jail at one time), I think Audrey’s voice soothes Danny.
** The Lost Year: 3.5 stars **
This story feels rather different than the other two because it takes Devon (and Nicholas) outside of the Neverwood walls as they go to Seattle to find Nicholas’s son. While yes, Devon and Nicholas form a bond during this trip, I also feel that the romance build-up was slightly less strong compared to Danny and Sam.
Devon was also an enigma to me. He is said to leave Neverwood and never returns, not once. Why is that? What happens that he refuses to return when it is clear that Audrey means something to him? Maybe I missed something but I don’t think I ever get a rational reason coming from Devon.
I do like the conclusion of this though – and Robbie, Nicholas’s son is a welcomed secondary character. I totally think Wes, another secondary character, needs his own happy ending story. His presence is too strong to be ignored.
All in all, I think it is a good anthology – and with 166,000 words in length, each story is a short novel-length on its own.
Title: Secrets of Neverwood (Anthology)
Author: G.B. Lindsey, Diana Copland, Libby Drew
Publisher: Carina Press
Length: 166,000 words
Release Date: June 30, 2014
Purchase Links: Carina Press, ARe, Amazon