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
The Secrets of Neverwood was a unique read. Three stories by three different authors based on characters with one common thread. The house that they spent time in and the woman who loved each of them unconditionally. She saw something in each one of them that they didn’t see in themselves. She may be gone, in a sense, but she’s a huge part of their past, present and more than likely their future.
Even though they are brothers, they barely know each other. They spent time at Neverwood, but barely crossed paths. The Secrets of Neverwood is about them finding themselves, finding each other and learning to trust and love. Something that each of them desperately need to discover. G.B. Lindsey, Diana Copland and Libby Drew do an amazing job of giving each character their own voice, but keeping everything cohesive and true to each other’s story. You can purchase the stories individually, but reading them as one is definitely my suggestion.
Below you’ll find my reviews of each individual story. Each story begins with a personal note from Aubrey to her son. You might also notice that I’ve tagged this one both Contemporary and Paranormal. Even though the romances themselves aren’t paranormal, there’s definitely a paranormal aspect to The Secrets of Neverwood. Once you read it, you’ll understand. 😉
One Door Closes by G.B. Lindsey
Years ago, Calvin Ware found a refuge in Neverwood, a home for wayward boys. Now, following the death of his foster mother Audrey, he’s returned to fulfill her request to restore the decrepit Victorian mansion to its former purpose.
Under the threat of repossession, Cal clashes with his foster brothers over restoration plans while fending off the unscrupulous developer who is breathing down his neck. Audrey’s well-meaning presence in his dreams does more harm than good as he struggles to cope with it all. What’s more, the contractor he hires to get the building up to code turns out to be Will Cabot, his high school flame.
As they begin working together, Cal finds he still has feelings for his first love. But his mistakes of years ago threaten their future, just as they ruined their past, and Cal knows he can’t withstand the heartbreak a second time.
This is my first G.B. Lindsey read. She got to start the story off, which can be either a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look at it. Regardless, I think it was appropriate to start things off with Cal. He wasn’t the oldest, but he was the only one of the brothers who had kept in contact with Aubrey. He came and visited and helped out when he was needed, but even his visits were sporadic and he had no clue how sick she was. He saw himself as the most logical person to take charge, even though he didn’t want to. He needed his brothers’ help, but he didn’t know how to ask and he didn’t think they were either willing or able. He had a lot to learn.
Will was his first love and readers didn’t know until near the end exactly what pulled them apart. We knew that something had happened and that Cal blamed himself for it, but it was only hinted at, never fully revealed. I kind of liked that approach. I also liked the fact that Will and Cal weren’t immediately thrown together. The connection and attraction was there, but it wasn’t acted on until the time was right. They both had a lot to come to terms with and the time span worked.
I also liked the way things developed between Cal, Devon and Danny. They also had a lot to work through and Aubrey’s influence brought them together in more ways than one. Their story is just the beginning, but it is far from over. The foundation is laid for what comes next for both the brothers and Neverwood. One Door Closes did an excellent job of starting things off and set the stage for Danny and Devon’s stories.
The Growing Season by Diana Copland
The four years since Danny Redmond left Neverwood have been heartbreaking, and past mistakes continue to haunt him, even after he returns home.Together with two foster brothers he barely knows, they plan to turn the house into a welcoming place for runaways once again—the dying wish of their foster mother, Audrey.
Danny has nothing to contribute to the restoration of the decrepit mansion, save for a gift for growing things. His efforts to bring Audrey’s beloved gardens back to their former glory are complicated by handsome landscaper Sam Ignatius…and the feelings developing between them, despite their fiery differences of opinion. But one voice gives him hope, the only one he’s always trusted—Audrey’s.
Danny comes to care deeply for Sam, but things look bleak when Sam’s city councilman father threatens to have Neverwood torn down. Danny isn’t surprised. Why would he expect the future to be different from his past? All his relationships end in disaster.
The first book that I read by Diana Copland was A Reason to Believe. As a matter of fact, that book marks my very first M/M Romance. It made me fall in love with the genre and want to read more. Needless to say I wasn’t surprised when Danny’s story pulled me even further into the Neverwood story.
Danny was the bratty younger brother. He kept his distance from his older brothers. Readers didn’t get to know him very well in One Door Closes, but from the time his POV started in The Growing Season I fell in love with him. He has secrets buried deep and just like Cal’s story, the reader isn’t immediately clued into what they are, even though his story starts with a pretty vivid nightmare.
Sam is introduced pretty early and the initial meeting between he and Danny didn’t go well. Mostly because Danny hasn’t quite gotten over trust issues with his brothers. He’s the youngest and he feels like he is constantly trying to prove himself. Throw a landscaping expert into the mix when Danny has been told he has free reign over the gardens and you can probably figure out where things go. The chip on Danny’s shoulder turns into a boulder. Lucky for him that Sam knows exactly how to get things under control… kind of.
Diana Copland does an amazing job of weaving the past into the present and giving readers a very clear picture of the demons that are haunting Danny. Nothing is revealed too quickly and the romance between Danny and Sam smolders along the way. Nothing is rushed, which in Danny’s case is important. I love and respect Sam’s patience as well as his firmness in encouraging Danny to share his secret with his brothers.
More secrets were revealed, some mysteries were solved and the brothers become even closer than they were before. Aubrey’s influence is far from over. The Growing Season did an excellent job of weaving the story even tighter and opening the way for Devon.
The Lost Year by Libby Drew
Devon McCade is no stranger to adversity. As a photojournalist, he’s seen all manner of human struggle. And as a kid, it’s what brought him to Neverwood, to his foster mother Audrey. It’s what he’s facing now, as he and his foster brothers work to restore the once-stately mansion amidst surprising signs from Audrey herself.
But when another anguished soul arrives at Neverwood, Devon can’t hide behind his camera. Nicholas Hardy is certain he saw his runaway son, Robbie, in a photo Devon took of homeless children. Devon knows all too well that a young teenager on the streets doesn’t have many options—and Robbie has been missing for a full year.
Searching for Robbie with Nicholas stirs memories and passions Devon had thought long lost, yet knowing that Nicholas will leave as soon as Robbie is found keeps him from opening himself up to something permanent. Devon must learn to fight for what he wants to keep—his love, and his home.
Ironically, Libby Drew’s 40 Souls to Keep was the second M/M Romance that I picked up. The first few that I chose had a paranormal aspect. Since PNR is my favorite romance genre, it made perfect sense to start there. Since then I’ve definitely broadened my scope and added a lot of M/M Romance authors to my ‘auto read’ list. The Lost Year has put this author back on my reading radar.
I honestly looked forward to Devon’s story from the beginning and The Lost Year was definitely worth the wait. I loved this guy. He was a huge support to his brothers, even though he didn’t see himself that way. I loved his interactions with Danny and the quiet way that he was just ‘there’ whenever he needed to be. It was no surprise to me at all when he offered to help Nicholas. That’s just who Devon was.
The connection between Devon and Nicholas was intense. Nicholas had given up everything for his son and he needed something to hold on to. Devon had kept everyone at a distance, but he couldn’t keep himself from opening up to Nicholas.
Even though Nicholas and Devon were at the center of The Lost Year, at lot more went on in this story. I think what I liked most about this entire boxed set was the way previous characters developed with each story. Each author kept the characters true to themselves, but another dimension was added with each story. Cal became more sure of himself and his connection to his brothers, Danny realized how much he had to offer (I loved the way he handled Robbie) and he actually became the lovable little brother. Devon opened up a little bit more with each story as well. I also loved the way that Aubrey ‘communicated’ with each of the brothers differently.
The Lost Year ended this compilation well, but things were left kind of open ended at the end. I can only hope that means that the collaboration between these three authors isn’t over. I definitely want more from Cal, Will, Danny, Sam, Devon, Nicholas, Robbie, Aubrey and Neverwood. 😉