Author: Barbara Claypole White
Published: August 2012 – Harlequin/MIRA
Synopsis: James Nealy needs to create a garden…
James Nealy is haunted by irrational fears and inescapable compulsions. A successful software developer, he’s thrown himself into a new goal—to finally conquer the noise in his mind. And he has a plan. He’ll confront his darkest fears and build something beautiful: a garden. When he meets Tilly Silverberg, he knows she holds the key…even if she doesn’t think so.
After her husband’s death, gardening became Tilly’s livelihood and her salvation. Her thriving North Carolina business and her young son, Isaac, are the excuses she needs to hide from the world. So when oddly attractive, incredibly tenacious James demands that she take him on as a client, her answer is a flat no.
When a family emergency lures Tilly back to England, she’s secretly glad. With Isaac in tow, she retreats to her childhood village, which has always stayed obligingly the same. Until now. Her best friend is keeping secrets. Her mother is plotting. Her first love is unexpectedly, temptingly available. And then James appears on her doorstep.
Away from home, James and Tilly forge an unlikely bond, tenuous at first but taking root every day. And as they work to build a garden together, something begins to blossom between them—despite all the reasons
My take: I think what I liked most about this book is James. He has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – something I don’t recall being an aspect of any novel I’ve read previously. Although I don’t have first-hand knowledge of OCD it seemed to me that Barbara Claypole White does. She created a compelling hero in James. As I said, I really liked him! And I liked that Tilly wasn’t put off by him even when she wasn’t going to take him on as a client. But she didn’t close him out when, given her situation, it would have been perfectly understandable. As it turns out, the two really brought out the best in each other. They were forthcoming and compassionate at the same time – bonding traits, I’d say. Strong characters.
When the story moves from the US to England we really get to see a relationship grow between the two. Using humor and drama the author really brought home the point that when we face our fears (preferably with a friend or two) we can meet a challenge and possibly overcome it.
The Unfinished Garden is Barbara Claypole White’s debut novel. I enjoyed it and will be very interested to see what story she’ll tell in her second book.
Disclosure: Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley. I was not compensated for my review.