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The Wilderness by Rosalind Abel

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Book Info

Book Series
Lavender Shores, Book 8
About the Author
Rosalind Abel is the pen name for Brandon Witt's new imprint of MM Romance novels.  The writings under Rosalind's name are purely MM Romance, sexy men, beautiful locations, humor, romance, and happily-ever-afters. Rosalind's first series is Lavender Shores. 
Publication Date
September 12, 2018
Available Formats
Content Warning
 deals with loss/death, deals with health scare/HIV, and self-discovery themes.
Will Epstein had it all—playboy good looks, wealth and prestige, and a gorgeous fiancé to costar with him on a reality television show. But that was years ago, before he was abandoned at the altar on national television. In the aftermath, Will’s world crumbled, leaving him humiliated and lost. 
Andre Rivera married his first love and lived a dream life until tragedy stepped in. His wife’s sudden death left him devastated and struggling to build a life for his young daughter. Being a pilot offers Andre a sense of freedom from Lavender Shores, but he feels trapped and unable to move forward. 
A shared sense of loss fosters a surprising friendship between Will and Andre, giving them both the salvation they need. But when feelings cross the lines of friendship and secrets are revealed, Will and Andre have to confront their own fears. 
Amid the gold of a Lavender Shores autumn, Will and Andre must grasp their chance at love… before it slips away.

Editor review

1 review

  POV: 1st person, dual POV
 Would I read it again?: Of course!
 Genre: MM, Contemporary, Romance, Enemies-to-friends-to-lovers
 Pairings: MM
 Heat Level: ★★★☆☆
 Here's a confession for you – Lavender Shores is one of the only series that I have never found fault with. There are no characters I truly hate and don't want to read about; no books that I've given anything less than 5 stars to; and no other series where I can pick up a book when I'm not feeling well/sociable/in the mood and instantly be swept away. No matter what book I pick up, I immediately feel better, fall straight into the world, and never want to leave. I can read every single book in this series at least twice a year, and never feel like it's a chore to catch up or remind myself of the previous books whenever a new one comes out. And I will never not want to read the next installment.


I actually said in my review of book 6 – the only other in the series that directly ties into the events of this novel (though it's not vital to read it, to understand this book) – that I wanted a story for Will. I spent half of book 6 hating him, then I began to understand him and what he was going through, and I knew that Will had the ability to be a character I could love.
 Andre, similarly, was a character I felt drawn to within book 6, while we explored Adrian's romance, and I had a feeling that he and Will would be perfect together. I even talking about how much I wanted to see Kimberly Epstein's face when she found out! And I got my wish, and I couldn't be happier. Not because I was right, but because I knew these two were right for each other, and because I got my moment of Kimberly Epstein.

 I got exactly what I wanted with these two. Will had his redemption story; Andre discovered that he could “move on” without leaving Meghan behind or pretending he didn't love her wholeheartedly. What I loved the most was how slowly their relationship developed; that it began with compassion drunkenness, descended into an unlikely friendship and became an attraction that crept up on both of them, so much so that they weren't on the same page when they finally revealed their feelings.

 Most of all, what I loved was Will's respect for Meghan, and Andre's feelings for her. Never once did he ask Andre to not talk about her, did he show resentment or resistance towards her memory. In fact, he respected it so much that he included her memory in their relationship in small but meaningful ways. And he didn't try to step into a stepfather role with Katniss, but offered a new and just as special relationship for her to count on.

 The communication between Will and Andre is another favourite thing of mine. They not only discuss their bedroom roles, openly and without resistance, but they also discuss Meghan, their future, and even Will's assumption that Andre has been secretly gay his entire life. Without that communication, I don't think I could have felt as much as I do for these two men. I would have worried that they were jumping into something that couldn't be good for them. Instead, I got to be there through every important moment, and I seriously hope that book 9 begins with their wedding. A beautiful, palisade wedding in spring/summer that has all the magic Will and Andre deserve! (and none of the Epstein tackiness or gold.)

 And while I love Seth and his friendship with Will, how much he supported him and stuck by him, despite it all, can I just give a massive shout out to Robert? I frickin' love Robert. And Pete. Without those three, I'm not sure Will and Andre would have been able to come together or trust in each other as much as they did. And without these three, Lavender Shores wouldn't be what it's become.


 I loved how the timeline of the plot made sense. It sounds strange, but I liked that we got to see Will just a few months after being left at the alter, the aftermath of all that had gone on with Harrison, and how that affected him. Then we moved on to three years later, when he'd become someone new, when he'd spent time trying to find himself and building a friendship with Andre that helped them both heal their wounds and have someone to lean on. More than anything else, it was that friendship that made me fall in love with these two. Knowing that they helped and healed each other, that they didn't let their family/relationships with other people get in the way of their friendship, and that they were there when the other needed them, let me know that there was a solid foundation for any relationship that followed.

 Even the one year gap in the middle of the book, at 44%, made sense to me. It showed that neither of these two were jumping headlong into something that didn't work, or that they were going to push themselves to face a situation that was unhealthy and they weren't mentally ready to face.

 Nick's storyline, Seth's continued feud with Charley, and the appearance of a new man in Silas, all make me eager to read more. I love these characters, even from the little we've seen of some of them, and I want them all to have books. Whether that means doubling them up (Seth with Charley, PLEASE!) or each one having their own story, I hope that Lavender Shores is one of those book series that never ends. At least not after reading double digits, if you don't mind.


 For an ARC, I'm usually shocked when there are few editing issues. But, I've come to expect this level of excellence from Rosalind Abel. The author's skill for storytelling is that kind that sweeps you away with every word, weaving a picture-perfect visual in your mind, while dragging your heart into an emotional rollercoaster. In those circumstances, I'd expect a few editing issues, if I had any hope that the author was on the same crazy emotional ride as I was. And that is true, sometimes, but while you can feel that the author is right there with you, being swept up in the same emotions, the skill of their ability shines through just as equally.

 Characterisation, in a series this large, is never a problem for this author. Never, not once, does a character act out of place to how they've acted before. They never say things that they would never have said when they appeared in previous books, unless that change is explained. Such as Will's change to swearing more often.

 The characters, the location, the whole world and feel of Lavender Shores is so familiar, no matter how long has passed between each book's release. Lavender Shores feels like a home away from home, like a place you once lived and miss every time you pick up a new book and realise how long it's been since your last visit. Whether it's Joel walking his dogs past Lavender Pages, Erica taking her kids into Mabel's for something to eat, Pete visiting Omar, Robert at the book club, or whether it's Mabel delivering a piece of pie to Lavender Leaves; each page has a special nugget that reminds you of all the people you know and love and who make Lavender Shores a place that you've come to love. So much so that, while I spent 90% of this book with tears burning right at the back of my eyes, it wasn't until Pete went to visit Omar and had that talk with Andre that I couldn't fight them any longer. Just as the stained glass window made me cry. And the beauty of all the little details came together to make the story even more special than it would have been without them.


 Favourite Quotes

 “I just...didn't realize I was important enough to you to hurt you.
 He didn't try to pull his arm free, nor did he step away. “You were.””

 “His blue eyes glistened with tears, though none fell, and his lips curved into a trembling, self-conscious smile. That was new too. That smile used to be one of arrogance, and then later, of pain, but there...in the forest...it was just Will. My friend, the man who'd helped heal me and then hurt me. Just Will...clearly hoping that I loved him.”

 “As stunning as the unearthly flickering lights above us were, they weren't the miracle that nearly broke my heart. “You don't need me to be anything, do you?””
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