Write what you know.
That piece of advice is often doled out to writers. And it’s good advice that often allows a writer to infuse a story with enough details that a sense of reality is added to the characters, setting, or plot. It’s these kinds of details that lift Deanna Wadsworth’s The Rhubarb Patch from a good four-star story to a very good five-star one.
Now, full disclosure, I know Deanna. I have talked with her at several different Pridefest events where we sold books from the same booth. I’ve spent time with her at GayRomLit (GRL), the conference for gay romance readers and authors. I am friends with her on Facebook and we chat on Messenger on occasion and comment on each others’ posts.
But my friendship with Deanna aside, I have to say this story is one of her most personal to date. I’ve read most if not all of her stories, and I’ve seen her posts on Facebook and Instagram. Deanna has taken the old adage “write what you know” to heart for The Rhubarb Patch, and you should definitely check it out.
The story starts off with Scott Howe moving into the house he’s inherited from his estranged grandmother. The place sits on a few acres of land outside the small town of Gilead, Ohio, and is cluttered with the odds and ends of a woman in her eighties with an affinity for yard sales and flea markets. Soon he meets his big, bald bear of neighbor, Phineas (Phin) Robertson, and an unlikely friendship develops, despite Phin’s Republican viewpoints and homestead practices that Scott finds at first amusing, but later more on something bordering amazement.
It is in these homestead practices where the details really bring the story together. Deanna Wadsworth loves to garden, and she infuses much of that love into Phin’s life. From harvesting rhubarb to making jam, the small details help breathe even more life into Phin’s character. There’s a reason for his “living off the land” attitude, and the attention to detail around his work in the garden, the different harvest times for plants, and the backstory of a type of tomato Phin has been growing from seed, really help his part of the story thrive. Not to mention the aging but still feisty schnauzer, Sister Mary Katherine, Phin’s beloved pet who steals nearly all the scenes she’s in, along with a bite or two of food.
And Scott is a writer of science fiction gay romance, struggling to complete a book promised to his editor weeks ago, another area where Deanna Wadsworth brings in just the right amount of details to round out Scott’s character.
This book contains everything a reader could want from a summer story: a sweetly building romance; a hint of danger lurking on the periphery of the characters’ lives in the form of a cousin who feels jilted at Scott’s windfall; some steamy sex scenes; a few tissues-close-at-hand moments; and a realistic mother-son relationship between Scott and his mother, a woman who seems to always choose the worst man for her. Not everything is perfect by the story’s end, but it is happy and well-earned, and will definitely leave you satisfied with a happy sigh. Do yourself a favor and head on down to The Rhubarb Patch and see what’s ready to be picked.
Title: The Rhubarb Patch
Author: Deanna Wadsworth
Genre: M/M Contemporary
Release Date: July 24, 2017
City boy, sci-fi novelist, and recovering pushover Scott Howe doesn’t know what to expect when he inherits his grandmother’s house outside the quaint village of Gilead, Ohio—but it isn’t an enormous bald man in nothing but tighty-whities and orange rubber boots shouting at him to keep his weed wacker away from the rhubarb patch.
Scott has never met anyone like Phineas Robertson: homesteader, recluse… Republican. A tender—if unlikely—friendship grows over the summer while Phin and his schnauzer, Sister Mary Katherine, teach Scott about life in the country and the grandmother he never knew. Opposites attract, but widower Phin worries his secret will send Scott running faster than his politics, and Phin isn’t convinced he deserves a second chance at romance.
Scott is convinced—rural life, and his one-of-a-kind, older neighbor, is the future he wants. Before he can settle in, his mother drops a bombshell that strains their already tenuous relationship, and a cousin who believes he is the rightful heir to the property puts Scott in danger. It’ll take a lot of compromises, and even dodging a few bullets before they’re out of the weeds, but nurturing something as special as true love always takes hard work.