~ Riverbend Romance Novella, Book 1 ~
I didn’t have the chance to finish the longer book I’m in the middle of, so I thought I’d slip in a novella I picked up earlier this year but hadn’t read. I’ve mentioned enjoying Valerie Comer’s books a time or two, and Secretly Yours is no different. The characters are strong, complicated, and struggling both with questions of life and faith in a way that makes it easy to walk the path with them.
Secretly Yours is very religious, though with one of the main characters a youth pastor, it didn’t come as a surprise. I was raised Catholic, but I had no trouble wrapping my mind around a pastor romantic hero in part because Lindsey had trouble with seeing Nick as more than his calling as well.
There are cute, romantic moments, but what made me enjoy the novella the most had to be the way they both mature across the pages.
Lindsey starts out wary of him because in their teen years, he had courted her just to get back at her friend then dumped her hard. She has no way of knowing how that event—not him being a jerk, but in courting her—has stuck in his head all these years. He’s changed in a lot of ways, but his confidence isn’t shaken until she can’t see herself involved with a pastor because her own faith has slipped into a habit.
That’s when the story changes course from a man crushing on a woman to a pastor helping a woman relearn the love of God, and in doing so, opening a place in her heart and life for him as well.
This is not a subtle book despite the secret admirer bit. The length doesn’t allow for a lot of wrestling and so both Lindsey and Nick tend to face their realizations head on. This made it seem a little rushed at times, but that’s a characteristic of novellas in general for me.
The kicker that solidified my enjoyment is the random thought that Valerie Comer would have made a solid youth pastor herself if Nick’s words are any judge. She has a way of presenting the words from the Bible in context that can soften even a jaded heart like that of Lindsey’s stepfather.
Lindsey comes to the story with a lot of resentment, closed off from love. Nick arrives with years of loving someone he thought never to see again. It takes patience, effort, and opening up to bring these two to the same place at the same time, and I enjoyed seeing that transformation in both faith and the willingness to love.