in the light of the garden by Heather Burch – Book Review

 

Rating: 5/5 stars

Goodread Description:

In the Light of the Garden is a novel about unearthed family secrets, the enchantment of past loves, and the indelible power of forgiveness.

Inheriting her grandparents’ island estate on Florida’s Gulf coast is a special kind of homecoming for thirty-one-year-old Charity Baxter. Raised by a narcissistic single mother, Charity’s only sense of a loving home comes from childhood summers spent with Gramps and Grandma. But piercing her fondest memories is her sharpest grief—the death of her beloved grandmother, when Charity stopped believing in the magical healing power of the weeping willow that still casts a shadow on their property.

Now that Charity has returned, she’s full of longing and regret, until she befriends her neighbor Dalton Reynolds, who has come to Gaslamp Island carrying his own heartache. As other exiles arrive—a great uncle harboring secrets, a teenage runaway—Charity begins to reconsider what makes a family. When her own estranged mother shows up in crisis, Charity is challenged to search her heart for forgiveness. But forgiving herself may require a little magic from the last place she’d expect to find it.

My Review

Thirty one year old Charity Baxter was raised by her single mother Ellen in New York, but spent her childhood summers up until the age of eleven at her grandparents’ house on Gaslamp Island in Florida.  Her grandparents were everything her mother wasn’t:  loving and generous.  Ellen had Charity as a teenager and always resented not being able to chase her dream as the next big movie star.  Vain and shallow, Ellen was unable to parent Charity in the ways she needed or deserved.  Gramps and Grandma filled that void.

Gaslamp Island was magical for young Charity.  She believed in fairies and magic until a family tragedy swiftly brought those days to an end.  After the age of eleven Charity’s beloved summer escapes to her grandpaents’ home came to an end.

When Charity’s grandfather dies she returns to Gaslamp Island after inheriting her grandparents’ house.  It is here that Charity will have to tackle her past in order to face her future.  Her new next door neighbor, Dalton Reynolds, is dealing with his own demons and heartbreak.  Throw in some other family members and neighbors with struggles and regrets to overcome, and they are able to come together and embrace forgiveness, acceptance and renewal, all the while with a hint of magic in the air.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the characters.  There was a sense of magic streaming through the storyline.  Charity is a strong woman who has risen above the challenges of having a selfish and distant mother.  Her return to her grandparents’ home ignites so many changes in the lives of those she comes in contact with.  I loved how the story unfolded and how problems were resolved.  This is a story of family and forgiveness and was beautifully told.  I look forward to reading other books by Heather Burch.

Private by Xavier Neal book review

 

Rating: 4/5 stars

Goodreads

“Mogul or Monster?

Billionaire Weston Wilcox hasn’t been seen by the outside world in almost a decade. No face to face meetings. No interviews. No social media accounts. Despite his ghost demeanor he continues to financially flourish and make his fellow investors richer with every decision. Throughout the years many have sought to discover the man inside the mogul while others have spread legends painting him as a heartless monster consumed by greed. None of it matters to him. Weston’s true identity is secured away in his estate of solitude, which consists of the only people in the entire world he believes he can trust. That is until he’s asked to allow a guest access to the property under extreme circumstances. One he knows he shouldn’t. It doesn’t take long before his world is turned upside down, unexpected threats arise, and Weston’s forced to ask himself what really should be kept private?”

My Review

I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.  Having never read a Xavier Neal book before I didn’t know what to expect.  I knew it was a mystery/romance, two genres that I enjoy.  As soon as I started reading Private I knew I was going to enjoy this book.

While there is mystery and romantic story lines, this is definitely a character driven book.  Weston Wilcox is a 20-something billionaire who heads his family run company after losing his parents a decade ago.  He is determined to hide himself away from the world and has developed a reputation for extreme privacy.  In no uncertain terms will he allow himself to be seen in public or any circumstance where he can be photographed or come in contact with the outside world.

Brynley Winters is a tough-talking, outgoing, sharp, ballsy, beautiful and vivacious young woman who loves marine biology but works at a gentleman’s club to pay the bills.  She loves her mother Lauren but hasn’t really kept in contact with her on a regular basis.  When she is summoned to her mother’s bedside by Lauren’s employer (who happens to be none other than the reclusive Wes Wilcox), because of a mysterious illness, both Brynley’s and Wes’ worlds are about to collide and spin off their axis!

This is a well written and fun to read book.  Xavier Neal excels at witty banter and sharp comebacks.  The dialogue was great and the story a fun and easy read.  The sex scenes are steamy and hot, so mature readers only!  This is the first book in a series and I look forward to reading the next one.