08/22/2011 12:47 pm ET | Updated Oct 22, 2011

'The First Gardener' Shows the Blossoming of a New Writing Talent

Novelist Denise Hildreth Jones pours her heart and soul into her latest book, "The First Gardener." This story, concerning a young couple's attempts to have a family life as well as a political life while living in the Governor's Mansion in Tennessee, is full of drama and emotion. The finely drawn portraits of Gray and Mackenzie London will resonate with readers and touch the hearts of all who embark upon the trip to learning their story.

Gray London feels a true calling to be the Governor of the state of Tennessee, and his wife Mackenzie has been with him every step of the way. They have made the mansion into a home for themselves and their kindergarten-age daughter Maddie. While Gray and Mack both have obligations to the citizens of Tennessee, they both find time for their only child. She is especially dear to them because they had to go through five miscarriages before they had a successful pregnancy. Now they are trying for second child, but so far this hasn't happened.

Gray and Mack have a full coterie of personalities around them, including Mack's mother Eugenia, both of their staffs, and the adored Jeremiah, who takes care of the gardens at the mansion. Jeremiah is someone Gray and Mack both respect. He is a genius with the garden but also provides words of wisdom in his humble way.

When tragedy strikes, this young couple is thrown into chaos and confusion. Mack especially goes through a hard time fighting depression. It seems that there is a void inside her that just gets larger and larger, and if she doesn't find a way to fill it, she will be lost forever. Those around her are at a loss as to how to help her, and the gardener's use of flowers appears to be the only way to communicate with her.

"The First Gardener" is a story of love, loss and faith. There are a lot of other elements at play throughout the book, but these three are paramount. Jones focuses on these and creates a story that will have you reading through your tears. Wisely she also includes moments of humor that give respite from the drama of the main plot line.

Reading "The First Gardner" is an all-encompassing experience. It will totally absorb you from the first page to the last, and when you finish, you will want more. Denise Hildreth Jones is a rising star on the literary scene, and this book is an indication that she will be around for some time to come.

To learn more about Jackie K. Cooper, visit