British aromatherapist looks for love.
Cutesy premise gets annoying fast when most of the character names are herbal fragrances: Anise, Angelica, Basil, Cassia, Gardenia, and so on. Not surprisingly, the heroine is named Rose, inhabitant of 5 Lavender Hill, a charming cottage in Great Brayford bought for her by Hugh, her former paramour, who’s married with kids and staying that way. Though local busybodies sniff, so to speak, at her unusual line of work, Rose wipes away a few brave tears and goes about her business, moving oily little bottles from one place to another and consulting herbals. Will she ever find love again? Well, yes. It seems that the cottage needs its fireplace opened up (nudge-nudge, wink-wink). Fortunately, handsome young contractor Dan Spikenard appears, wearing exactly the right clothes for this tame sexual fantasy: a Gap plaid shirt, jeans properly faded but not ripped, and unmuddy workboots. His eyes are a clear green; his hair a brick-dust blond. Dan is sympathetic and understanding, capable and kind. In fact, he’s the perfect combination of decorative stud, girlfriend, and mommy. Rose is charmed but wary. After all, Dan’s involved with someone else. But he does seem to understand—instinctively and immediately—that she couldn’t help falling in love with Hugh, who was very persuasive (he would have to be, since he’s American and living in North Carolina). Dan expresses his tender concern by digging in the dirt with a stick like the boyish darling he is and spouting utterly improbable dialogue for a male character: When women go quiet it’s usually a man’s fault. And: Spending the day with you, relaxing, chatting, enjoying each other’s company, has really opened my eyes. Will Dan and Rose ever find happiness? Just ask the elderly spinsters in the neighboring house who keep peeking at her through the curtains.
Another brittle little romance from Matthews (Bare Necessity, 2003, etc.).