Title: The Chocolate Garden, The Dare River Series
Author: Ava Miles
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Sold By: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
- About the Story: Visionary gardener Tammy Hollins is making a new life for herself and her children after a tragic marriage. Plants she understands, but men…well, they’re of the weed variety. She’s started her own landscaping business, catering to her country music rock star brother’s friends. Her first client is sexy, soulful, Alpha hero material, and the one man who tantalizes her and scares her to death.
John Parker McGuiness is a man of many talents, working as a songwriter and lawyer for country music’s biggest stars. He’s drawn to Tammy like no other and hires her as his landscaper, wanting to show her they’re made for each other. When Tammy learns he’s a professed chocoholic, she fashions a magical garden for him-a chocolate garden.
As the garden comes to life, their love for each other grows. When tragedy strikes Tammy’s home, John Parker is willing to move mountains to protect her and her children. Tammy struggles to guard her newfound independence as they use the magic of the chocolate garden to help her children feel safe again. But when secrets from Tammy’s past resurface, can their love and passion survive the memories haunting her?
My Thoughts: I so enjoy finishing a book that makes me feel good. The last pages of this story tie the ribbon with a perfect knot. Even though the story had me well satisfied, it also had me crying in several places.
The cover evokes a magical garden and I see how appropriate the cover is after I started the book. And if you like chocolate, make sure to have a box of it handy! I wish I had, as Tammy and John Parker were sampling some of his best chocolate.
Do you know the feeling you get when you read a good Christmas story? That’s what I felt about this one. It’s Tammy Lynn Hollins’s story about getting over an abusive marriage and learning how to stand on her feet using a creative side of herself she never knew she had. She needed to know that she could take care of herself and her children, but with southern men and their manners and need to protect their womenfolk, it only made it harder for Tammy to retain her new-found independence.
Her two young children, Rory and Annabelle, along with several dogs play big roles in the story. As the menfolk have problems stepping back to give their women space, the reader gets involved emotionally when the two children, scared by a night intruder and robbery, have nightmares. I found myself sharing those same feelings of protectiveness towards the children.
John Parker McGuiness, best friends with Tammy’s brother has had his eye on Tammy ever since she got her divorce. But being the southern gentleman, he wanted to give her at least a year to be over her nightmare before he made known how he felt about her. He was a really interesting character. Strong, handsome, polite, with always a listening ear—a real charmer. He loved his ‘mama’ very much and often talked with her, so when things weren’t going well with Tammy, it was normal to reach out for her advice. I liked that side of him. He was so caring with both Tammy and the children. Tammy almost calls it quits with him. Her independence is too important. Her heart couldn’t accept it, however.
The story line is rich with other relationships either going sour or sizzling. While Tammy and John Parker’s friendship grows with its ups and downs, Tammy’s father seeks to end his marriage. Tammy’s mother for years has pushed her children away by her harsh words and her unloving communication to all three of her children, but Tammy, who looks the most like her, is singled out. But things are not what they seem.
Tammy’s sister Amelia Ann also broke free from the life her mother had imagined for her. She decided to be a lawyer so she was interning at a law office. She has her eye on Clayton Chandler, but Clayton is running the other way, away from her and away from his feelings. Amelia Ann has a secret she dares not let anyone know and lives with the fear that she might be found out.
I enjoyed the faith aspect of the story. It blended well into the fabric of the tale and didn’t make me feel it was an agenda of the story. It was natural and a part of their lives.
The dialog was quite authentic. Sugar here and sugar there. Honey was used a lot and of course darlin’. That southern charm! I certainly enjoyed the book. I valued the many words of wisdom written throughout which make the book an even more satisfying read. Ava Miles has left just enough threads loose that I’m titillated for the next in the series.
About the Author: USA Today Bestselling Author Ava Miles burst onto the contemporary romance scene after receiving Nora Roberts’ blessing for her use of Ms. Roberts’ name in her debut novel, the #1 National Bestseller NORA ROBERTS LAND, which kicked off her small town series, Dare Valley, and brought praise from reviewers and readers alike. Ava’s books have reached the #1 spot at Barnes & Noble, ranked in Amazon’s Top 20, and been in the Top 10 at iBooks. A two-time Reward of Novel Excellence Nominee by InD’tale Magazine for NORA ROBERTS LAND and FRENCH ROAST, Ava has also released a connected series called Dare River, set outside the country music capital of Nashville. She’s fast becoming a favorite author in light contemporary romance (Tome Tender) and is known for funny, emotional stories about family and empowerment. Ava’s background is as diverse as her characters. She’s a former chef, worked as a long-time conflict expert rebuilding war zones, and now writes full-time from her own small town community.