Wild Mint Tea, by Valerie Comer (Choose NOW Publishing, 2014)
Claire Hadford and two friends have bought a farm in Northern Idaho with the goal of turning it into a hands-on demonstration of sustainable living. They’ve built an interesting straw-bale house (efficient, warm and dry, and far better than the mouse-infested trailer they started out in) and are ready to begin hosting events.
All three women share the grounds-keeping and gardening work while holding down outside jobs to help with expenses. Claire is a chef, desperate to find a better gig than the weekend night shifts at the town’s restaurant, The Sizzling Skillet. Her boss is a bully who gives her no scope to highlight the local and seasonal ingredients which are her specialty.
Local-sourcing food is a tough sell, and Claire figures that’s why she doesn’t get the contract to cook for a reforesting crew when they arrive in the area. Good thing she doesn’t know the truth: owner Noel Kenzie thinks she’s too distractingly cute.
To ease his conscience, Noel suggests the farm as a wedding venue for his sister, not realizing how much time he’ll end up spending with his sister and Claire.
He’s a man on the move, planting trees across the US and hitting exotic destinations in the off-season. Claire’s roots in the farm go deep—and she needs that stability after a childhood of being uprooted. Plus, the most important thing she’d want in a man—if she were looking, which she’s not—is that he have a close relationship with the Lord.
Noel is saving that until he’s too old to have fun. And he knows he’s not good enough for Claire. His father abandoned the family and only calls when he’s out of cash. Noel has no idea how to be a good dad—even if Claire would take a chance on him.
Wild Mint Tea is the second in the Farm Fresh Romance series, and I really enjoy these books. The characters are real, complicated, and I care about them. Claire and Noel each carry false beliefs about themselves and their needs, and it’s heartwarming to watch them grow. Fans of book 1, Raspberries and Vinegar, will be glad to see Jo, Zach and Domino again.
And people like me who like a little adventure beyond the romance will enjoy the heavy equipment when it rolls in. That’s all I’m saying.
Valerie Comer is a Canadian author who writes “where food meets faith.” She’s passionate about both and too skilled a writer to be pushy about either. She cooks up a fine tale, properly spiced with humour. To learn more about the author, you can visit her website. And come back here on Friday to read my interview with her.
For a little fun, check out this post by the illustrator, Hanna Sandvig–and view the short-but-sweet book trailer. Click here.
[Review copy provided by the publisher.]