Sunday, 4 January 2015

Taking the Gardener by T.J. Masters

Pages: 190
Date: January 3, 2015
Grade: 4-
Own  / Paperback

The blurb:

“Mourning the sudden loss of his parents in a car crash, experienced Dom Eric Broderick escapes London society and his high-pressure law firm and retreats to Glebe House in Pittlesburne, a small village in Buckinghamshire. He tours the nearby woods and the charming village, but it’s really the guesthouse’s garden he’s taken with—or, rather, the gardener.

Tom Bestwick maintains the grounds of Glebe House for his fiancée and does odd jobs around the village. With little experience outside Pittlesburne, Tom finds fulfillment through his true passions, rugby and art. He has just one unrealized desire—one the guesthouse’s new occupant would be happy to help him with.

Late one night, while walking through the garden to clear his mood, Eric spies Tom enjoying a BDSM video starring two men. Having a sub to train might just help Eric forget his troubles, but as their feelings deepen, the real world intrudes. Eric can give Tom everything, but not until Tom decides where he’s meant to be.”

My thoughts:

Taking the Gardener was different from most M/M romances I’ve read and that’s a good thing. People who read my reviews may have noticed that I enjoy it when the books I read surprise or stretch me. And this book sure required me to push a few of my boundaries.

I guess a lot of it can be summed up by the following quote:

“Sex was a different thing entirely to acts of affection.”

This is not the typical BDSM romance we’ve become accustomed to. This story and the interactions in it are rawer than anything you’ll find in those ‘standard’ - or should I say regimented - romances. If you prefer your stories all flowers and courtesy, this may not be the book for you. Just as you might want to stay away from this book if you are convinced ‘true love’ would never invite a third party into a sexual encounter.

What we do get, and what I thoroughly enjoyed, is a story about a Dom who, despite his vast experience, has yet to encounter a partner who touches his heart as well as his sexual appetites. And that is exactly what happens when Alex meets Tom. The journey these two men make together was fascinating, at times eye opening and ultimately touching and uplifting.

At times while reading Taking the Gardener I wondered whether the author had gone out of his way to shock the average reader of (M/M) Romances. I’ve read enough reviews to know that multiple partners, cheating and dubious consent are frowned upon and often lead to low star-ratings, and all of these can be found between the pages of this book. Sure I frowned once or twice while reading and didn’t agree with the main characters’ decisions on several occasions. However, for me that made the story more rather than less interesting. And, taking the story as a whole, it is impossible to deny that Alex and Tom wanted to do the right thing, for each other and for those around them. The fact that their best intentions didn’t necessarily lead to the best possible outcomes only made the story more – rather than less – realistic and dramatic for me.

If I’m honest I have to admit that at times the telling of the story felt a bit rushed and abrupt. I guess I wouldn’t have minded a bit more detail about some scenes, thoughts and feelings while I could have done without one or two other paragraphs. But, this was the author's debut novel and overall this was a fascinating story, written from an almost new to me perspective. I will be reading more by T.J. Masters in the not too distant future. He has my curiosity well and truly piqued and I for one actually enjoy it when I’m asked to step out of my comfort zone occasionally.

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