Tag Archives: Farm Fresh Romance

Review: Berry on Top, by Valerie Comer

Berry on Top, by Valerie ComerBerry on Top, by Valerie Comer (GreenWords Media, 2016)

It’s taken 10 years for Liz Nemesek to be willing to make even a passing stop in her hometown. Too bad the guy who drove her away came back first. Worse still, Mason Waterman is renting her parents’ old house, claims to have changed his life, and is now a good friend of her brother.

Liz can’t deny the changes – they were long overdue – but just because God forgave Mason doesn’t mean she will. Or that she’ll forgive God. Or admit that maybe she bears some responsibility, herself.

Past hurts, secrets, and Liz’ rejection of her childhood faith threaten to keep her from a chance at happiness with Mason, despite the matchmaking attempts of his young twins. But trying to do life her own way just gets her into an even bigger mess.

One of the things I appreciate about Valerie Comer’s romances is that her stories are about more than just the happy-ever-after. They’re filled with real people with real (and sometimes difficult) issues. They don’t gloss over hurt, but as the characters begin to change, we see the difference that God can make in broken lives.

Berry on Top is the sixth and final book in the Farm Fresh Romance series, and readers can look forward to a new series with some carryover of characters: the Urban Farm Fresh Romance series will be set in Spokane, Washington.

As well as the Farm Fresh series, Canadian author Valerie Comer has also written the Riverbend Novellas series and a stand-alone fantasy novel, Majai’s Fury. For more about the author and her books, visit valeriecomer.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: Plum Upside Down, by Valerie Comer

Plum Upside Down, by Valerie ComerPlum Upside Down, by Valerie Comer (GreenWords Media, 2015)

Chelsea Riehl is fairly new to the farm that her sister Sierra and friends founded. The farm community offer courses and event hosting and Chelsea thought her event planning skills would be her contribution to the mix, but so far she’s spent most of her time peeling plums, processing tomatoes, and cutting up beef.

Everyone else who lives on the farm is married or engaged, except Chelsea… and Keanan, the hippie-style guy with the guitar. Neither one of them is looking for a relationship – especially not with the other.

Chelsea and Keanan are polar opposites – and they start out with an instant dislike for one another. I found that a little irritating at first, but they quickly discover a budding attraction and I just as quickly developed a fondness for them both. Keanan’s faith is so deep that it stirs a longing in Chelsea’s spirit and causes her to struggle with comparisons and a sense of unworthiness.

This is book 5 in the Farm Fresh Romance series, where each novel features different characters from the expanding Green Acres farm community. I’m not really a fan of romance as the main plot thread, but what I like about this series is that along with engaging characters and the romance thread, there’s also a faith thread and the chance to vicariously live life on a self-sustaining farm.

Most, if not all, books in the Farm Fresh series include a recipe (this time it’s Plum Upside Down Cake). New for this story, the author has created a playlist of Keanan’s songs, and a list of the Bible verses that he shared with Chelsea.

Don’t let that last item scare you. This isn’t a preachy novel. Chelsea’s biggest issue is that she doesn’t dare believe that God really loves her personally. Naturally, as she opens up to her friends about this, the conversation will be about faith, but it’s clearly Chelsea’s need and not an author-driven agenda (although I’m sure the author agrees!)

Valerie Comer is a prolific Canadian author of Christian romance (plus one clean mainstream fantasy novel). As well as the Farm Fresh series of novels, she writes the Riverbend Romance novellas. For more about the author and her books, visit valeriecomer.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: Dandelions for Dinner, by Valerie Comer

Dandelions for Dinner, by Valerie ComerDandelions for Dinner, by Valerie Comer (GreenWords Media, 2014)

Green Acres Farm began with three friends, all single women, who wanted to get out of the city and practice sustainable living. In Dandelions for Dinner, newcomer Allison Hart joins the growing community on the farm.

Allison is a reserved person, and she finds it a challenge living in a communal environment. Eventually she’ll have her own house and farm school, but for now she’s living with one of the other women. And all the farm decisions are made as a group.

Brent Callahan is the construction foreman for Allison’s building project. The two clash from the beginning and yet each can see hints of vulnerability beneath the other’s surface. And each one carries memories that they feel disqualify them from future relationships. Add to that Allison’s opinion of men in general, and things get even trickier.

As farm life begins to mellow Allison, she gains custody of her four-year-old nephew, Finnley. The little boy has been abused and ignored, and his only safe place is his imaginary dog, Rover. Watching Finnley blossom is a heart-warming part of the novel.

Favourite lines:

Who let his mouth go for a hike without his brain along? [Brent, wondering why he’d just said what he said; Kindle location 697]

“He’s a man. I’m a woman. I’m pretty sure God made both genders then laughed His head off.” [Jo, to Allison; Kindle location 1661]

Dandelions for Dinner is book 4 in the Farm Fresh Romance series, and it may be my favourite to date. You don’t have to have read the previous books, but you’ll learn things in this one that reveal the other stories’ endings. The characters are Christians, and their faith clearly influences their decisions. Some come from wholesome backgrounds, but others do not. Each one brings something positive to the group, and each has something to learn.

Valerie Comer is a Canadian author with a commitment to faith, food and fiction. As well as this farm-lit romance series, she writes contemporary romance novellas and has a fantasy novel, Majai’s Fury. For more about the author, visit her website: valeriecomer.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: Sweetened with Honey, by Valerie Comer

Sweetened with Honey, by Valerie ComerSweetened 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.]

Review: Wild Mint Tea by Valerie Comer

Wild Mint Tea by Valerie ComerWild 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.]