Why did I read it: I loved the premise in terms of the setting and its focus on two people struggling to heal themselves as well as the other.
In 1918, Michael McCready returned from the war with one goal: to lose himself in the pursuit of pleasure. Once a promising young medical student, Michael buried his dreams alongside the broken bodies of the men he could not save. After fleeing New York to preserve the one relationship he still values, he takes a position as a gardener on a country estate, but he soon discovers that the house hides secrets and sorrows of its own. While Michael nurses the estate’s neglected gardens, his reclusive employer dredges up reminders of the past Michael is desperate to forget.
John Seward’s body was broken by the war, along with his will to recover until a family crisis convinces him to pursue treatment. As John’s health and outlook improve under Michael’s care, animosity yields to understanding. He and John find their battle of wills turning into something stronger, but fear may keep them from finding hope and healing in each other
Review: Bonds of Earth starts off as a fairly quiet story, and the relationship between Michael and John grows very slowly. Everything works though because the process was a very organic one. Bonds of Earth was also written extremely well, and just because a story is quiet doesn’t mean that it is boring. I was engaged with the story from beginning to end.
Both John and Michael were easy to love and really believable so that even when I didn’t like Michael’s decisions at all, I understood why he made them. I enjoyed following Michael around getting glimpses of his past and all the pain he’d experienced. I loved getting to know John and all that he’d been through. The minor characters added a lot to the story, and I particularly liked Sarah and her grandparents. The way things change and the way Michael and John’s roles morph to the point where they occasionally reverse was very well done.
There was a great richness and authenticity to their story. There was also a lot of heartbreak and pain involved for both men that occasionally overshadow and threaten happy moments, but there was still some really beautiful ones. Even with both of them seeking out physical and emotional healing, I didn’t expect all of the damage to go away overnight or even by the end of the book. All the same, I wanted a better or at least more solid resolution for John and Michael. The ending, which took place some years later, provided enough proof that they would be able to stay together and be happy in spite of everything. But it was a bit jarring to learn that “in spite of everything” included Michael himself. I remain firmly convinced that the ending could have been happier without taking away from what had already happened.
In conclusion, a lovely historical romance. The ending might have kept Bonds of Earth from being a perfect read, but it was an excellent one that I will certainly revisit. And I will definitely be on the look-out for more books from G.N. Chevalier in the future.
How I would rate it: 4.5 out of 5 stars.