‘Flowers for the Gardener’ is a bit of a quandary for me…it should have gone better for me than it did. This is an ‘enemies to lovers, second chance, starting over’ love story so much my thing. Richard (Rich) Gardener has come home following the death of his father to not only attend the funeral but he is to take over management of the family company…a company he really has no interest in, but there’s more…Rich also has to deal with a mother who while grieving the loss of her husband is one of the least sympathetic literary characters that I’ve encountered in quite a while. ‘Ruby’ is cold hearted, pretentious, scheming, manipulative, a snob…I could go on but I’m going to stop there. My point is I should have been able to find some small modicum of sympathy for this character…I mean we’re talking about a woman who’s lost her husband a husband whom she supposedly loved and sorry, folks but I’ve got nothing where Ruby’s concerned I’m pretty much a cold-hearted b*tch. I mean this woman seriously irritated me.
Among the other characters introduced in this story there was Rich’s sister, Sapphire, who was for me a definite bright spot in this story. Rosamund (Rosie) a long-time employee of the Gardener family and Christopher Talbot who proved to be an invaluable advisor for Rich in regard to the family’s marketing firm and last but not least we have Ethan Fields. Rich’s childhood nemesis and current love interest.
I was, to say the least, surprised that this story just didn’t seem to be working for me…so much so that part way through I decided to set it aside and read something else in the hopes that when I went back to it things would fall into place for me and I’d find myself enjoying the story a lot more…sadly this was not to be. I was determined to finish reading this story with the objective of at best enjoying it and at the very least understanding why things weren’t working for me.
So, at the end of it all for me it comes down to the fact that while this is a well written story that I found to be easily readable does not automatically make for a story that’s relatable and my ability to relate to either of the MCs in this story was tenuous at best.
Rich came from a very well to do British family where money was not an issue.
Unfortunately, neither was having a close and loving family. While Rich somehow managed to develop a semblance of a relationship with his sister it was definitely a work in progress, but I liked that it was something that both Sapphire and Rich seemed to want to work at. Making the interactions between Rich and his sister one of my favorite parts of the story.
Meanwhile from a purely socio-economic perspective while I was more able to relate to Ethan than Rich, there were still times that Ethan just felt too embittered by the fact that he wasn’t born into a rich family, however, as the story progresses we do find out the how and why of Ethan’s feelings which helped to give perspective to them, but for me this information came a bit to late to fully mitigate my initial reaction to Ethan’s feelings.
Now, the part that held the biggest quandary for me was Rich and Ethan’s relationship. I have to admit I’ve been pondering this for a few days now and what I keep coming back to is that for me the transition from what seems to have been an angry sex relationship where Rich and Ethan claimed that they were just together to fulfill a mutual physical relationship to admitting that they had feelings for each other simply took too long. I didn’t want it to be a blink and you missed it transition but I just felt like it took to long for each man to acknowledge his feelings for the other.
In hindsight I just feel like the timing for this one was off and that to me isn’t a reflection of the author or their skill but my personal preference of the moment. Things just felt like they were happening too soon or more often too late in the story for me and I can honestly say that I know from past experience that what worked or didn’t work this time may have a completely different impact with me another time. So while this one didn’t quite connect with me. I have no doubt that I will be reading this author again in future because whether this story worked for me or not I still enjoyed the author’s writing style and look forward to reading her other works.
An ARC of 'Flowers for the Gardener' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.