Lori Wilde’s Twilight Texas Series is wonderful. She has created a beautiful town full of quirky characters and compelling stories. I discovered her books a couple of years ago after the release of The Sweethearts' Knitting Club, and since then I’ve been anxiously expecting the next release.
The Welcome Home Garden Club is about Gideon and Caitlyn. They used to be high school sweethearts and they loved each other madly. They also had a lot of obstacles in their way to happiness. He was the natural son of the wealthiest man in town, a guy from the wrong side of the tracks, son of a Mexican woman who loved him, but was a bit of a loose woman. Caitlyn was the overprotected daughter of the town’s judge who loved his daughter but was very controlling, needless to say that he categorically disapproved of Gideon. After a series of unfortunate developments Gideon ends up between a rock and a hard place, Caitlyn’s father offers him a choice, he can either go to prison or join the army, Gideon of course chooses the army.
Immediately after Gideon leaves, Caitlyn finds out she is pregnant. She desperately tries to find him but when the private investigator she hires comes back with the bad news that Gideon has been killed in action she is devastated. Fast forward eight years later, Gideon’s father has just died, and who happens to show up in the middle of his funeral? You guessed it, Gideon himself. Needless to say Caitlyn is shocked.
I liked the book but I didn’t love it. The premise was and old one and the execution was good in some parts, but lacking in others. Obviously there was some foul play involved in Caitlyn finding out that Gideon was dead, and there was some foul play involved in Gideon not coming back to Twilight, and is obvious that Caitlyn’s father was behind it. This is an old plot devise and even though Lori does it well there were some things that bothered me. I couldn’t understand why Gideon did not try harder to get in touch with Caitlyn. One day he receives all the letters he had sent her unopened and that’s why he thinks she doesn’t love him? I don’t get it, if he knows the kind of father she has why isn’t he suspicious? He is very much in love with her and he claims to know her better than anyone, but he believes her capable of something this awful? I understand that Gideon was going through a lot, that he was very young, but I think romance novels today are way past this type of absurd misunderstanding, and since Caitlyn proved to be a very sweet and caring person, how could he not see that something wasn’t right?
I found both Gideon and Caitlyn very likeable. Gideon specially was very complex. He was wounded in Afghanistan and lost a hand and he is deeply traumatized by the things he saw and did during the war. I loved how Lori gives us a hero who is an alpha male, a strong warrior (he was a green beret) but who is also emotionally affected by war. I think this was a more realistic portrayal of a military hero because even though he was a highly trained operative, he wasn’t beyond being affected by the things he saw and did, he wasn’t a super hero and he wasn’t invincible.
Caitlyn was a nice girl. She was a hardworking woman who did her best to be a good mom, she loves flowers and she is sweet and charming. I found her a little bit too good actually, and I think that she was a bit weak. I think that once she lost Gideon she stopped living and I understand that she was heartbroken and desperate, but she was so young, there was no reason for her not to be able to move on.
Caitlyn’s reaction to Gideon was a bit more realistic. She realizes that she never stopped loving him but is weary of picking up where they left because she now has a son to think about and Gideon is obviously not the same guy she used to know. Gideon is also weary because he feels dirty and undeserving. He thinks that once she finds out about all the things he went through she will shun him. He is also suffering from PTSD and that makes him dangerous to Caitlyn and their son.
I believe that what bothered me the most was that they were just too accepting. Caitlyn and Gideon weren’t really mad at her father, Gideon was also too accepting of the fact that he had a son, Caitlyn was accepting of Gideon’s traumas and welcomed him with open arms even when by doing so she was endangering her son’s well-being. Even the son, Danny, was too accepting of his new father.
Overall the book was enjoyable, had an interesting story and was engaging (I particularly loved how every chapter started with the traditional meaning of a flower). It could have been much better though, it had all the ingredients to make a wonderful and touching story. If you can see past those things, and if you like second chance at love stories or secret baby stories with a twist, then you might want to read this one. If you are not familiar with Lori don’t start with this book, go and read the series in order, and then pick this one.
I recommend Lori Wilde’s books because she is very talented, but this one won’t be on my keeper list.
Review by Brie
Traditional meaning of Pink and White Roses: I love you still and always will.
Caitlyn Marsh stopped believing in happily-ever-after when high-school sweetheart, Gideon Garza, left for Iraq. Now she raises her small son while her matchmaking gardening club members drive her crazy. Then Caitlyn's world turns upside-down when Gideon swaggers back to Twilight.
Gideon had left town in the middle of night with threats ringing in his ears. A lot of things have changed since then. This bad boy-turned-Green Beret bears scars from the war, the timid girl he loved is an independent mother, and the father who refused to recognize his son in life has, in death, left him a vast cattle ranch.
He still aches for Caitlyn, and now there's a dark-haired boy who looks exactly like Gideon did at that age. Could the child be his? And can this war-weary soldier overcome the scars of the past to claim the family he so richly deserves?
Avon. March 29, 2011.