Rosemary Lantz is doing her best to run her family’s household. She excels at all her tasks except one: gardening. Saul Petersheim has pursued Rosemary for years, but Rosemary keeps turning him down. What Saul doesn’t know is that she has good reason—something no one can know—especially not him.
Good story. Rosemary and Saul had dated when they were teens, until Rosemary abruptly broke things off. Now she takes care of her widowed father and her three brothers, and dreams of what might have been. Saul has never given up on the love he felt for her and keeps asking her out. When Rosemary's dad and Saul are injured in an accident, Saul insists on helping out, in spite of his own injuries, hoping for another chance.
I loved Saul. He's true in his love for Rosemary and doesn't give up, even when it seems hopeless. His sense of honor insists on him helping out because he was the one who caused her father's injuries. It was a bit amusing to see that he didn't handle his own injury too well.
I had a bit more trouble with Rosemary. She doesn't treat Katherine very well because she's jealous of what appears to be the other woman's perfect life. I admired the way that she has taken care of her family since her mother's death, especially since she is often overwhelmed by it all. But she is also a little bitter about having missed out on the husband and children she wants. She is still in love with Saul, but doesn't treat him very well. The reason she broke things off haunts her, and she wonders if it was worth the loss of the man she loves.
I got pretty frustrated with her because she was so inconsistent with her treatment of Saul. I was glad to see her talk to her friend about what happened and that it gave her the motivation to actually talk to him about it. When she finally got up the courage to do so, it was to find that it had been a misunderstanding of what she heard. If she had only taken the time to talk to him about it, so much time wouldn't have been lost. However, I liked Saul's philosophical look on the lost years.
There was also a secondary story involving Rosemary's dad, Wayne, and Katherine. Rosemary's treatment of Katherine nearly ruined the blossoming of their romance. I ached for both Wayne and Katherine and their unhappiness. I was happy to see Rosemary see her mistakes and try to fix things.
Flowers for Rachael by Kathleen Fuller
Rachael Bontrager’s flower garden is beautiful, but at twenty-four, she’s lonely. Gideon Beiler fell in love with Rachael almost at first sight. After her grandfather has a stroke, her days are filled with caring for him, and one day Rachael finds her garden in shambles. However, she won’t accept Gideon’s offers of help. Will she realize she doesn’t have to do everything on her own and that God is in control?
Good story. Rachael has come to Ohio to take care of her ill grandfather. When she isn't caring for him she is working in her garden. She's rather lonely because she doesn't allow herself much time away from Eli. However, she is intrigued by neighbor Gideon, though he doesn't seem to share her interest. Gideon is rather shy and awkward around women. His one attempt to ask one out ended badly and he hasn't tried since. He has fallen hard for Rachael, but has no idea how to proceed.
Gideon and Rachael have become friends, though each wants more. It was fun to see Gideon's sister get involved and try to help him along. The idea she came up with was pretty sweet and he pulled it off well. It certainly got Rachael's attention as she tried to figure out who was doing it. His shyness almost ended things before they began, but an assist from Eli got things going again. Gideon was still afraid he was relegated to friend, until a crisis with Eli gave him a chance to show Rachael how much he cared. Rachael has spent so long doing everything herself that she has forgotten how to accept help from anyone. Between his help with Eli and then when her garden is damaged by hail, Rachael finally learns that a burden shared is much easier to bear. The ending was really sweet, with Rachael delivering her own floral message.
Seeds of Love by Tricia Goyer
Sadie Chupp finds her greatest joy in the greenhouses in her Montana community. A company is interested in buying her heirloom seeds, but they are the only thing she has left from her deceased parents. Eli Plank is a traveling bachelor who believes he can help Sadie, but a misunderstanding leaves her heartbroken. Will she trust him again, and let the seeds of a new relationship take root?
Sadie moved to Montana to escape her overwhelming grief over the loss of her parents and the sometimes smothering attentions of her older siblings. She plants the heirloom tomato seeds that are all she has left from them, hoping to continue the tradition. She meets Eli, a newcomer to the community, who is a traveling writer. Eli has enjoyed his travels, but something about the community feels right to him.
Sadie and Eli are drawn to each other and connect over her garden. Nurturing the garden does the same to their feelings. I loved seeing Eli's desire to ease her grief as they worked together. There are some sweet scenes as they cope with several issues. A misunderstanding drives them apart, but a marauding bear and destroyed garden helps bring them back together. Then a message from the past brings peace to Sadie and hope for her future.
Where Healing Blooms by Vannetta Chapman
When Widow Emma Hochstetter discovers a run-away teenager in her barn, and the bishop asks her to provide a haven for a local woman and her two children she finds her quiet life has been interrupted. Then, her mother-in-law, Mary Ann, reveals one of her garden's hidden secrets, something very unexpected. Will Emma continue alone or will she accept the gifts God has given her?
Good second chance story. Emma and her mother-in-law have both been widowed within the last year. Mary Ann finds great comfort in her garden, though she can no longer work it the way she used to. That is left to Emma, whose own children are grown with families of their own. She is left feeling a bit at loose ends, wondering what purpose she has now. Also plaguing her is the return of a former beau, whose presence in her life brings back memories of what they once had. Danny left the community as a young man, wandering the country and experiencing life in other towns. He recently returned to the family farm, where he now writes and watches over Emma and Mary Ann.
Then Danny and Emma find a teenage boy hiding out in her barn. Mary Ann and Danny suggest they give him refuge, a place where he can feel safe and wanted. Then the bishop asks them to open their home to a woman and two children escaping from an abusive situation. Suddenly Emma has a full house again and a feeling of usefulness. There's also a reawakening of the feelings between herself and Danny. When Mary Ann reveals a long kept secret of her garden, a world of possibilities is opened, if only Emma has the courage to take it.
I liked the close relationship between Emma and Mary Ann. There was love and respect and a deep understanding of who they are. I liked the way that Mary Ann had of making gentle suggestions to Emma, helping her to look at things from a different perspective. I loved Danny's patience as he waited for Emma to be ready to accept his love. I liked their plans for the future.