Lavender Kindle Edition
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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
Following the sudden death of his father, Lawrence "Law" Crow must not only comfort his bereaved mother, but also find the strength to continue running the family business, a local and beloved lavender farm in the mountains of northern California. At first, consumed with his own grief and struggling to find meaning in life, Law indulges in his vices, mainly by surrendering to his sexual urges with numerous men, all in a desperate battle to forget his pain and to end the emotional turmoil tearing him apart.
But when a stunningly handsome and passionate Spanish soccer player named Garbi suddenly crosses his path, Law discovers light in the possibility of love. Does Garbi have the ability to heal Law's shattered heart, provide him with purpose, and help him fully embrace the joy of living once again amidst the beautiful and fragrant lavender fields?
I read Xavier Axelson for the lyricism of his narrative. His words can flow with a beauty that can haunt you, surprising you with their imagery and emotions. From the synopsis, this seemed perfect for that the sort of story I've come to expect from this author in the past. What I found was a mixture of new and remembered.
There's a rough, gritty side here that I wasn't expecting. On one hand, I think it works well. Law Crow is deep within the misery of his grief over the death of his father, the hole left by his mother's fleeing to France, and his inability to deal with it all other than have copious amounts of clinical sex. That's exactly what we get when we aren't getting gorgeous descriptions of the lavender fields, the house and memories. Almost, textbook anatomy sex. Maybe for some, it might have some appeal. I feel that the author was letting us know that Law was mechanically "going through the motions". But it was too much for this reader. Not when he was also delivering this:
"Surrounded by lavender fields, the isolated farmhouse stood out against the sunburned sky. My mother, statuesque and graceful, cut a striking image amidst the swaying lavender, reminding me of a knife stuck in the earth."
Things improve immeasurably when Garbi enters the novel. Still tons of sex, but as Law starts to recover emotionally so does the story. You might say Garbi saves both Law and Lavender. It's not that you don't feel for Law, adrift in his mourning. It's that the overwhelming sex takes you away from the story in a way that distracts you and not in a good way. I get what the author was trying to do but imo it just didn't work with this reader.
I could see and smell the fields of lavender spread out from the house. I could imagine the aroma lingering on his clothes and body. I loved Garbi and his teammates. There is so much to love here in this story. The characters and raw emotions that Axelson pulls from them and their scenes makes this story one to read, especially at the end.
The dawn broke across the fields, a sight I never grew tired of experiencing. I approached the lavender with hesitant excitement. I placed the urn on the table and undid the lid. The last knot of grief unwound from my heart, and a lightheaded joy washed over me. In my mind?s eye, I saw him whisking my mother across the wooden floors of the family room, and heard the piano.
Play the keys, Law. It's time.
There's so much more after that. A satisfying ending and a HFN romance amidst lavender fields. It still remains true, Xavier Axelson has a way with words that makes me want to read his stories. I can't wait to see what stories are coming next.
Cover art by Written Ink Designs is lovely, if too purple. I get why. Lavender infuses everything about this story so why not the cover.
Now, that said…when Garbi enters the picture things do seem to look up for both Law and the story. Law gains focus and Garbi seems to act like an anchor for Law. At the same time, Law gives Garbi something other than playing his sport to look forward to, and the attraction between them does burn quite hot. It’s hard to see how they would be able to make things work past the short time they have together while Garbi’s team is in town, and while circumstances do offer up a chance for more the way this story ends leaves readers with a “happy for now” finish.
Even though for most of the story Law’s character was difficult for me to like, at the end I was still wanting to know if things might work out for him and Garbi past the immediate future. I may never find out, but the author did pique my interest enough to want to know how Law and Garbi end up in the long run.
This story is meant strictly for readers 18+ for adult language and situations as well as sexual content.
This book begins with emotional pain. The death of Law’s beloved father, in the lavender field he cherished, causes untold grief for the son and widow left behind. You can feel their agony in every word. Mom deals with it by ignoring everything, including her son, and Law deals with it with sex – anonymous, constant and emotionless. The story is told in first person by Law and his agony over losing his father is so raw. It starts to make him harsh in his dealings with life and yet, life has to go on.
When his mom leaves, returning to her native France, unable to deal with the reminders of her husband everywhere, Law is left with the lavender farm and the so difficult task of spreading his father’s ashes. It was little details, like lavender lemonade, that made the story more poignant, reminding us that yes, life continues even when you are screaming in grief and how do you deal with it?
It is in the middle of this despair that Law meets Garbi, a soccer player who ends up visiting the farm, and that is the beginning of some healing for Law. If not healing, at least a slowing of his self-destructive path. It should be noted that while these two are (hopefully) headed to a forever place, it isn’t so much romantic as just merciless hard sex as part of his healing.
Some of the scenes are hard to read because it is so unrelentingly sad. While I liked Garbi, I did wish for a little more for the two of them, as the connection is pretty instant. The setting of the lavender farm is a character unto itself and sounds beautiful.