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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
A Secret Garden: An Utterly Gorgeous Feel-Good Romance is a contemporary romance novel written by Katie Fforde. Spring seemed to be awfully slow at coming in this year, as Philly shivered in the damp and cold air. She knew that she needed a new polytunnel for her gardening business, but, with the chilly winds presaging a major storm that evening, she could only hope that her current crop of flowering plants survived the night. Philly and her grandfather were pleased as punch with their decision to move away from their family in Ireland and to settle in the smallholding he had found online. They had some acreage, outbuildings and a house that admittedly still needed work -- but that would happen in time. Best of all, the existing polytunnels had allowed Philly to embark on a long-held dream to become a plant-woman. Her grandfather had also surprised Philly’s mom, and everyone else, when the former auto mechanic became a gifted and popular baker of cakes. Each Saturday, they sold their goods at the local market. That, and Philly’s work for Lorna, seemed to be just enough to keep their little homestead afloat. Granted her mother was still unhappy about their defection and still demanding information about Philly’s non-existent love life, but she was far away. Love would happen when it happened. Philly was sure there would be time enough for that.
Katie Fforde’s contemporary romantic comedy, A Secret Garden: An Utterly Gorgeous Feel-Good Romance, had me reveling in the beauty of the English countryside as I read of the adventures of Philly, her grandfather, and the other marvelous characters that I grew to know and care about. While an ocean away, the situations her characters find themselves in are universal -- parents who are reluctant to let their kids grow up and make their own life choices, and kids who find it hard to accept that their moms or dads could actually find romance again. Fforde’s plot is an enchanting one, and her characters, particularly Philly, Lorna and Lady Anthea, are beautifully drawn. Watching as their fellowship transcends the differences in their ages was a rare treat indeed. I also loved following as Jack shows Lorna his restoration work at the local abbey. A Secret Garden: An Utterly Gorgeous Feel-Good Romance is a sweet and compelling romance that kept me happily enthralled until I had finished the last page. It’s most highly recommended.