Title: Secrets of Neverwood by G.B. Lindsey, Diana Copland and Libby Drew
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary, M/M, Erotic, Paranormal (ghost), Romance
Word Count: 166,000
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
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.
The Secrets of Neverwood anthology is an outstanding novel about three foster brothers who return to their childhood home after their foster mother Audrey passes away and leaves them her estate. Consisting of three novels written by three different authors, each story focuses on a different brother as they work through their personal issues and find love while struggling to restore the dilapidated mansion so they can continue Audrey’s legacy of helping troubled boys.
One Door Opens by G.B. Lindsey
Word Count: 59,000
Book Rating: B
The Secrets of Neverwood anthology begins with G.B. Lindsey’s One Door Closes. Calvin “Cal” Ware kept in close touch with Audrey and in the aftermath of her death, he is overwhelmed by the financial burden of renovating the rundown Victorian home. Adding to Cal’s stress are his strained relationships with his foster brothers, and his renewed acquaintance with his first love, Will Cabot.
One Door Closes is written from Cal’s perspective but he is not an easy character to get to know. He is haunted by his unresolved relationship with Will and he finds it virtually impossible to talk about anything in his past, including the reasons surrounding their break-up. Cal’s secrets are alluded to on numerous occasions, but nothing concrete is revealed until nearly the very end of the story.
Cal’s interactions with his foster brothers are tense and often overshadowed by some of his bitterness for past events. He finds it difficult to ask them for help and since both men are as close-mouthed as Cal is, he has no idea what their intentions are regarding their inheritance. The tension between the men continues to mount until Cal’s resentment leads to a much needed discussion about the future of the house.
Both the paranormal and romantic elements of One Door Closes are understated for much of the novel. Audrey’s ghostly appearances are vague in the beginning and the reasons for her visits remain unclear until the story’s conclusion. Cal and Will eventually rekindle their teenage romance but this does not occur until very late in the book.
G.B. Lindsey’s One Door Closes is a fabulous introduction to the Secrets of Neverwood anthology. I am very intrigued by the glimpses of Cal’s foster brothers and I am very much anticipating their stories.
The Growing Season by Diana Copland
Word Count: 53,000
Book Rating: B+
The Secrets of Neverwood anthology continues in Diana Copland’s The Growing Season. Daniel “Danny” Redmond is the youngest of the foster brothers and he left Neverwood four years earlier and found nothing but heartache when he was betrayed by the man he thought he loved. Deeply saddened by Audrey’s death, Danny feels closest to her when working in the gardens they both loved and his role in the renovations is restoring the grounds to its former beauty.
Danny’s relationship with his foster brothers has improved, but he is quick to jump to conclusions with landscape architect Sam Ignatius’s unexpected arrival. Although the situation is quickly smoothed over, their relationship is uneasy and complicated by Danny’s unanticipated attraction to Sam. Like his brothers, Danny has a painful history that he finds impossible to discuss and his unresolved issues quickly come between him and Sam.
In The Growing Season, the paranormal and romantic aspects of the storyline are much more prevalent. Danny is comforted by Audrey’s presence and she takes on a much larger role in the men’s efforts to keep Neverwood. The romance between Sam and Danny grows steadily throughout the story and it is an absolute joy watching love blossom between the two men.
The Growing Season by Diana Copland is a superb addition to the Secrets of Neverwood anthology. Although this story primarily focuses on Danny and Sam, glimpses into his brothers’ lives reveal how the changes in their personal lives are having a positive effect on their relationship as well.
The Lost Year by Libby Drew
Word Count: 54,000
Book Rating: B+
The Secrets of Neverwood anthology concludes with Libby Drew’s The Lost Year. Devon McCade is the oldest foster brother and he is definitely the most enigmatic of the three. Although he kept in touch with Audrey over the years through letters, he never returned to Neverwood after he left. While Devon is behind the renovation 100 percent, his career as a photojournalist requires frequently travel. Returning home after his most recent assignment, Nicholas Hardy asks for Devon’s help in locating his runaway son, Robbie.
The Lost Year is a little different than the other stories in the anthology since some of Devon’s story takes place away from Neverwood. He and Nicholas form a close bond during their search for Robbie, but both view their relationship as short term. Surprisingly, although he tends to be emotionally distant, Devon falls hard for Nicholas but he remains very wary of opening up and letting Nicholas completely into his life.
Like his foster brothers, Devon is still struggling to put his painful past behind him. He was one of Audrey’s first (and most difficult) foster children and she felt his loss the most keenly. The reasons behind his behavior and departure are deeply rooted in his dysfunctional childhood and it explains much about Devon, including his career choice. While his relationship with his brothers is much improved, the fact that he is not at Neverwood full time is still cause for uncertainty and they are very wary of his involvement with Nicholas and Robbie.
As with The Growing Season, the paranormal portion of the storyline is much more pronounced in The Lost Year. Each of the brothers experiences their encounters with Audrey’s ghost differently and her role in the storyline increases along with their fight to keep Neverwood out of the hands of an unscrupulous developer. The conclusion of this story arc is rather dramatic and extremely satisfying!
The Lost Year by Libby Drew is a marvelous conclusion to the Secrets of Neverwood anthology. It is well worth the wait to uncover all of Devon’s longheld secrets but it is watching him fall in love that is so incredibly gratifying.
Secrets of Neverwood is a wonderful collection of stories that is written by three very talented authors. Their writing styles are unique and quite distinct, but each of the brothers’ stories seamlessly flows from book to book. Each novel stands on its own and concentrates on an individual brother as he triumphs over his past and falls in love. But to fully appreciate the transformation of the three foster brothers and their relationship, I highly recommend reading all three books in the anthology.