I read the first Urban Farm Fresh Romance early last year, so it’s been a while, but despite this new story jumping right into the thick of things, the little reminders were enough to ground me. I wished I’d read them closer together because these two stories are interwoven, with Butterflies beginning in the middle of Secrets on Sunbeams, but really I didn’t need to.
Butterflies on Breezes stands alone as a story, but like most of Valerie Comer’s books, is really part of a much broader community. This is a moving tale about two people working through their issues to accept the gift of love between them. I enjoyed how they both had issues rather than one having to change to meet the other. The source of Logan’s reluctance is much less immediate (though the impact very much is) than Linnea’s, and watching both her family dynamic and what it did to her self-confidence is painful at times. A sign the characters become real, which makes it no less uncomfortable.
I loved how Linnea built herself a community when she couldn’t find one in her birth family, even if she doesn’t feel worthy of the people who believe in and like her. Her relationship with Jasmine, who becomes her roommate, is especially telling. Whenever things aren’t smiles and sunshine between them, Linnea assumes she’s done something irreconcilable and Jasmine will kick her out. Instead, she gets well-meaning advice that is not without its own biases.
I’m pretty sure if I had to live in the midst of Jasmine’s meddling family and the church community it would be as much annoying as welcoming. But, the way they are all involved in each other’s lives is an appealing contrast to the silos so many find themselves trapped within in the real world. Don’t get the idea that all the meddling is the good kind, either. This is not an idyllic, perfect community. There are jealousies, petty or not; outright conflicts; and a lot of competition and positioning. However, to someone like Linnea from a family dominated by an overbearing father and recognizing the value of only one of three children, it must have been as appealing as it was overwhelming.
Logan is a different picture. He came from a broken home and uses constant exploration to keep from wanting what he believes unattainable. His reconnection with God and Jasmine’s mother’s matchmaking open new possibilities he’s reluctant to believe in. Music, especially hymns, gives Logan the space to consider God’s Will and his place in this plan. His relationship with music is beautiful.
The religious aspects of this Christian romance are very much front and center from the start. The church is how Linnea first becomes aware of Logan, and their faith offers a connection even when they’ve muddled their way into a standstill. Neither has enough experience to work through their issues, some internal and others caused by Logan trying to protect Linnea because he sees her fragility without nurturing her strength at first. It’s complicated, and their faith definitely serves as a touchstone to help them find a way through.
There are many quotable moments in this book on both the religious and personal fronts. I mentioned Linnea’s family issues, but the way her father is portrayed in both good and bad moments is very real. It’s one of the reasons the below quote resonates so well with the story, just as it matches my approach on life. It’s something to ponder:
“Attitude isn’t about what our life is like. It’s about how we choose to perceive it and treat everyone else, including ourselves.” – Butterflies on Breezes.
Choice is a big part of this story, whether it’s choosing to perpetuate a bad situation, overcome an obstacle, or reach out even when expecting a negative reaction. This isn’t so much an easy story to read as one that feels true to life.
I’d be foolish not to mention the presence of sustainability, though there’s so much going on with the people, I almost neglected to. True to the series, this novel offers examples of making a step toward sustainability that are possible in most communities with the mention of others. There’s a discussion of the consequences and the reasons for developing local food sources and eating within season as well. This element is in some ways a minor thread, but its presence is key to many of the important moments, and will be a defining factor in their future plans.
I guess by now you can tell I enjoyed the story. I liked how their faith sustained and guided them without ever feeling as though they were abdicating responsibility for their lives even when opening themselves to God’s Will and asking for guidance. They never sat back and waited for God to do the work for them. Instead, they practiced their listening skills and focused on being aware of the signs offered them in assistance. There are some amusing moments when Logan acts on his active faith in places not used to such behavior though.
The end is solid in more ways than I’d expected, and one of my expectations regarding Linnea’s father was turned on its head, but I like Linnea’s solution better. There was at least one scene I feel is missing regarding her family, but that’s a minor quibble and might still appear in the next book. One advantage to being behind is I won’t have to wait beyond trying to slip it into my reading schedule.
So there you have it. A glimpse into another solid novel of faith, love, and community through my eyes. I’m looking forward to continuing my wanders in this series.