ROOM TO GROW by Kate Sherwood
Room to Grow by Kate Sherwood
Reviewed by Cassie
Garden designer Cole Wheaton is out and proud, and he’s got no patience with guys who aren’t. Finally out of a bad relationship with a guy who refused to admit he was gay, Cole concentrates on work. While designing a garden for the McLeans, Cole gets a chance to talk with David, the husband, who doesn’t get why Cole wants to design the garden the way he is doing. Cole is fascinated and a little confused by David, but he’s determined not to get involved with another guy who’s in the closet.
David McLean has been forcing himself to try to be content with his unfulfilling open marriage for a while now, spending his time focusing on work and having the occasional one-night-stand with a man. Talking with Cole—and being attracted to the man—shows David the life he’s leading is no good for either him or his wife. David wants to change things, yet he’s afraid to do so. His work and home lives are hopelessly entwined. On top of that, coming out and living an honest life will require taking huge risks, something David is not known for.
Even if David’s willing to risk it, Cole has been burned before. Can they both let go of their pasts in order to form a brighter future together?
Room to Grow tells the all-too-common story of a man who married because it was what he thought he wanted, and because it was what was expected of him, only to realize he’s made a mistake. Normally I hate cheaters with a blazing passion, but somehow, despite his having slept with several men during the course of his marriage, I didn’t hate David. Part of that was because David’s wife told David she had had lovers, but another part was because of the way David was portrayed. He had no malice toward his wife. He cared about her, just not in the right way. I was annoyed with him because he didn’t have the courage to tell his wife why he was becoming distant. He goes to counseling with her and lets her vent, but it takes him far too long to confess his sexuality. Even so, I continued to like him because he was a nice guy with good intentions, and I could understand his fears. That doesn’t mean I didn’t want to kick him at times, though, because I definitely did. David’s decision to take the path of least resistance turned out to be a hurtful one for several people.
Cole, on the other hand, is determined to live his life in an honest way. The lack of honesty killed his last relationship, which makes him wary. He works hard at his job, and he has good friends. When he finds out David is gay and hiding, Cole wants no part of the situation. Once David decides to come out, however, Cole takes him under his wing a bit. After his last experience, he tries to deny his attraction to David, with varying amounts of success.
There were several things about Room to Grow that I really enjoyed. First of all, the conflicts are realistic and not over-dramatized. I also liked how Kate Sherwood didn’t make David’s wife out to be a crazy, vindictive shrew when David finally decides it’s time to make a change. Too many authors go that route, and it’s starting to grate on my nerves. There’s no reason people who have cared about each other for years can’t be civilized to each other, and Ms. Sherwood did a very good job portraying that. Another enjoyable aspect of the book was that David’s coming-out process, and his relationship with Cole, happen slowly. There’s no “I’m out, let’s have sex and fall in insta-love” here, and the story is much stronger because of it. There’s a misunderstanding / overreaction angle at one point, but it’s not too drawn-out or silly. Overall the story flows well and is nicely paced. The only thing that bothered me was how much time was skipped at the very end. I would have liked to see the development of David and Cole’s relationship a bit more, and for the story to be longer. At any rate, Room to Grow was still a very good read, and one I’m sure readers who like contemporary romance would enjoy.