The Neighbor by Gerri Hill tackles one of my all-time favorite themes of unexpected love. I have always been a sucker for these types of stories, and Hill has proven to be a master of it. In her current interpretation, Hill shows us that love truly can show up in your own backyard.
Laura Fry is supposed to be a successful writer living in Dallas. Instead, she’s had to move back to her childhood home and take care of her mother. While it seems like a step backwards, Laura is hopeful that the time back home will help clear up eight years’ worth of writer’s block. But all her well laid plans go out the door when she sees her mother’s lifeless garden. Laura doesn’t intend to be a “yard girl,” but she finds the work soothing as she returns the landscape to the lush and colorful display she remembers. She also doesn’t intend to become friends with the “nympho lesbian” next door. Yet, as she spies on her neighbor and the parade of playmates that come through every weekend, Laura finds it impossible not to be curious about the stunning woman with the pool.
Cassidy Anderson has no qualms about finding company for the weekend. But as she approaches her mid-forties, she’s longing for more than just a weekend fling. She wants something substantial and meaningful that will last forever. She’s pretty sure it’s not with her latest companions, and she’s absolutely certain that it’s not with the cute tomboy next door. As Laura and Cassidy get to know each other, Cassidy finds herself seeking Laura’s company more and more. Suddenly, Cassidy believes maybe she’s been looking for her soulmate in all the wrong places. But her soulmate couldn’t possibly be her neighbor…could it?
Anna: Laura and Cassidy are so appealing because Hill writes them so fluidly. They are not perfect by any means, yet they are relatable for anyone who has searched for something profound in their lives.
Laura is a very pleasant and kind woman who is stressed out and has a strained relationship with her family stemming from years of writer’s block. She’s is hoping her move back home will ignite her passion for writing. Instead she finds an all new passion in gardening. Through this new love, she discovers her true talent of cultivating and nurturing something back to life. Her time in the garden relaxes her mind, body, and spirit, and gives her a new outlook on what is important and what’s missing in her life. While she may not get a single written word from this newfound Zen, it leads her to something more special and beautiful in the form of her next-door neighbor.
Cassidy is hoping to find her soulmate. While her wealth and social status supply her with suitor after possible suitor, her prestige is in deep contrast with her personal, more simplistic, interests. She’s very approachable and friendly. She also appreciates the beauty in the neighbor’s garden and wishes to have that beauty shared with her. Yet she keeps searching for Ms. Right in the form of skinny, conceited women who only look out for themselves. It’s not until Cassidy develops her friendship with Laura that she is finally able to recognize that her soulmate may not come in the form she expects. Ms. Right may just be a tomboy who wears cut-off jeans and has no problems telling Cassidy exactly what she thinks.
Sheena: I adored both of the leads in this story. Gerri Hill created memorable, relatable characters who came to life for me. They were a beautiful mix of vulnerabilities and desires.
The Writing Style
Anna: I have always found Hill’s writing to be intriguing and stimulating. Whether she’s writing a mystery or a sweet romance, she allows the reader to discover something about themselves along with her characters. With Laura and Cassidy, I could relate to where both women are in their lives. They have reached a point where things aren’t going the way they expected, so they’re searching for something meaningful. One way they find this meaning is by giving their love to something, and to someone. Both characters approach their destination differently, but the result is still just as satisfying and inspirational for anyone on their own journey to love.
Sheena: Gerri Hill is right towards the top of my giant pile of favourite authors. Her work is spectacular. Whether she is writing romance, action, horror or police procedurals makes no difference. Her writing is clean, emotive and simply brilliant.
Sheena: Nicol Zanzarella did a fab job of narrating this one. Her performance of each woman was so well done that I simply slipped into the story and never wanted it to end.
Anna: I really liked how Hill showed the progression of the relationship between Laura and her mother. Considering her mother’s well-being was the catalyst for Laura’s return, it was a delight to see Hill highlight how this relationship goes from estranged to loving over the course of the story. To me, Laura’s relationship with her mother is just as important as her relationship with Cassidy.
Sheena: This is a really simple romance and yet there wasn’t a single moment where I was bored. Hill captured my attention from beginning to end, and frankly, I am not sure how because I was so enjoying it that I didn’t pay any attention to the mechanics of the story.
Also, I totally agree about the mother / daughter relationship.
Anna: The cover does too good a job of illustrating what Hill so aptly describes as Cassidy back yard area. This is a con because I really want to live in that house, and I can’t because I know it doesn’t exist.
Sheena: Not a thing. I will even forgive the cover.
Anna: This story has all the fun antics you would expect for a quality, low-stress, romantic comedy. Hill is wonderful in giving us characters that are intriguing and delightful that you never want to put the book down until the end.
If you’re lounging by the pool, on the beach, or just soaking up the last days of summer in some tropical location, this is definitely the book to read.
Follow Laura and Cassidy as they see, truly, just how close love can be.
Sheena: Be warned. Once you start listening to this one you won’t want to stop. And it will make you feel happy. So don’t start it unless it’s a weekend or you have a really long trip because you won’t want to stop.
I highly recommend this one. This is the perfect light romance. It’s the perfect solution if you want something to take your mind off your troubles, keep you company on your commute or to just make you feel a little lighter.
Let me say this again since it’s becoming a little bit of a mantra in my life – Gerri Hill is a genius. I don’t know how she does it but her stories are always unique, well written and her characters are so real you feel like you can shake their hands.
Excerpt from The Neighbor by Gerri Hill
[Laura] turned all the lights out upstairs, then pulled her chair closer to the window in her writing room. She hid behind the drapes, only opening them enough to stick the binoculars out.
“Oh my God,” she murmured. Definitely lesbians. Hordes of them. Oh, okay. There were a few guys. Kissing. Great! Her neighbor was having a gay bash. Half of the people were in swimsuits. Some of them should not be in swimsuits…
She scanned the crowd and the pool, trying to determine who their neighbor was. It had to have been one of the four women in the pool that morning. Surely to God not the anorexic blonde. No, not her. She spotted a woman – dark hair – making the rounds. She nodded. Yes, same woman from the pool, the one the blonde had been latched onto.
Tall, dark…handsome, almost. Certainly too handsome to be called pretty. Her dark hair was a little shorter than shoulder length, parted on the side…Not young, though. In her early forties, she guessed…Skimpy bikini top, white shorts. Tan legs…firm. Really nice legs. A runner, maybe? Definitely athletic. She made the return trip up the woman’s body, back up from her legs to her face, then gasped as the woman seemed to be looking right at her.
She froze in place, not even daring to breathe. Surely she couldn’t see her. Surely to God she couldn’t see her spying. Then the anorexic blonde approached, getting the attention of tall, dark and handsome. As soon as her head was turned, Laura literally dropped to the floor, below the windowsill.
“That was close,” she murmured. Then she smiled. “But kinda fun.”
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781594936005
- Publisher: Bella Books
- Audiobook Publisher: Audible Studios
- Narrator: Nicol Zanzarella
Gerri Hill Online
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