Sweetened With Honey, by Valerie Comer (GreenWords Media, 2014)
Of the three friends who set out to demonstrate sustainable living on Green Acres farm, Sierra Riehl is the only one who’s still single. She’s glad Jo and Claire found such loving husbands, and she appreciates the skills the men have brought to the farm, but sometimes she feels like the odd woman out. And she’s pushing thirty.
Sierra wants to be in love, wants to get married and have children, but if she’s not careful she’ll settle for the only guy in town who’s taken an interest – even though her friends all think he’s selfish and arrogant. Then Gabe Rubachuk (from Raspberries and Vinegar) returns to town. Despite the past, Gabe is the one Sierra has been wishing for. Except he’s still grieving and doesn’t know how to move forward.
Gabe and Sierra do a lot of angsting over one another, especially at first. I confess to a bit of trouble relating to Sierra, likely because she keeps thinking of Tyrell as a viable option for a life partner. (As an action reader, I kind of hoped someone would deck him before the novel ended, but author Valerie Comer demonstrates a more mature Christian attitude toward him. I suspect he may grow up and be someone’s love interest in a later story.)
It’s always fun to take another virtual visit to the farm, and to see how the project is growing. Sweetened With Honey takes place three years after Raspberries and Vinegar, and although the farm hasn’t become the event destination its founders had hoped, they’ve added beekeeping and guided hiking. I learned a bit about bees!
I enjoy the rural and environmentally-conscious atmosphere of this series, and watching how the characters’ ideals are affected by the realities of life – and by their Christian values. It’s good to spend time with realistic characters (flaws and all) as they work through their issues. Sierra’s dealing with the biological clock and her health, and Gabe with grief. If we haven’t been there, we will – or our friends will. Fiction lets us explore common struggles so we’re better prepared to face them in reality.
Sweetened With Honey is book 3 in the Farm Fresh Romance series, with three more to follow. Book 1, Raspberries and Vinegar, won a 2014 Word Award in the Romance category. Author Valerie Comer is a Canadian local-food advocate. Visit her website for tips and recipes: valeriecomer.com.
[Review copy from my personal library.]