4 star

Broken Homes and Gardens

By Rebecca Kelly

IBSN#: 978-0991305889

Author’s website:

Brought to you by OBS reviewer Una



A girl, a guy, a broken-down house. Not exactly on-again, off-again, Malcolm and Joanna are in-again, out-again: in love, out of each other’s arms, in an awkward co-living arrangement, out of the country. Their unconventional relationship is the only way, Joanna says, to protect herself from the specter of commitment, which inevitably leads to heartbreak. “When Harry Met Sally” for the Millennial generation, set in the damp and drizzly neighborhoods of Portland, Oregon, Broken Homes and Gardens is an ode to friendship, lust, and the unrelenting pull of love.


When Joanna arrives home from a teaching position overseas after another failed relationship, she feels that heartbreak is the only conclusion to commitment. Meeting Malcolm at a party she decides that friendship is the way to go. Getting her life back on track Joanna buys a broken down house in need of many repairs however all of her energy is put into restoring the garden. When Malcolm asks to be her roommate she agrees and they embark in an on again off again romance. Malcolm helps restore the house and their friendship grows. Joanna is slow to see her need for Malcolm. She thinks she doesn’t want him romantically but is jealous when he tries to form new relationships.

Malcolm I think from the beginning is attracted to Joanna but she keeps pushing him away. He does everything to help her but cannot seem to break through her self-doubt and negative thinking toward romance. The on again off again romance finally gets to him. Can their relationship be saved?

I must say I was a little frustrated at times with Joanna and wanted to shake her and say Grow up. I really was surprised with the ending. The story really does prove that your childhood can affect your adult decisions. It was an interesting story and I will definitely look for more books by Rebecca Kelly.