I read across many genres as you might have noticed if you follow my reviews, and I often determine what to read next based on my mood. With a string of cloudy days getting me down, I reached for the aptly named Secrets of Sunbeams, a Christian romance by an author who offers lovely characters facing serious barriers to life and love. This is the first in the Urban Farm Fresh Romance series, though I reviewed the prequel already, so had some idea of what to expect.
It was fun to see old friends from the rural Farm Fresh series as well as those in Promise of Peppermint (the prequel), but this book stands alone, meaning it’s not dependent on reading the other series first. That’s actually an amusing statement when community and isolation are such a critical part of Eden and Jacob’s story, though not as critical as one playful goat named Pansy.
This story is a delightful, uplifting romance between two young Christians who are already strong in their faith in God, but not so much in themselves. Eden and Jacob come from different backgrounds in more ways than just their economic status.
Eden is suffering the tragic loss of her parents and both sisters from a car accident five years earlier. She’s living in her childhood home, a shrine to the family she lost, and her one bit of innovation that is truly her own is a small urban farm with chickens and (you guessed it) a goat. She believes in community for all her grief keeps her separate, and in restoring the connection with more natural ways.
Jacob, in contrast, comes from a loving, close family with a unique enough last name for me to realize he is the brother of two of the leads in the Farm Fresh series. He’s been raised to wealth and has expectations of a similar life despite his current circumstances of sharing a small house in the older part of Spokane. Jacob is a solar architect with an active interest in using his skills to help others through missionary work. All that works in his favor, but he’s got an unconscious snobbery that threatens everything he wants out of life, especially a connection to the tight community he lives in, something as alien to him as Eden’s urban farming. He has nothing against farming, mind you, but expects it to occur out in the fields, not threatening his own backyard.
They’re strong, driven characters with a very tangible faith who have both blind spots and assumptions. At first, I found Eden’s assumption that Jacob had to fall in with her life for them to work a little presumptuous, but that was before I recognized the depth of her connection to both the community and her little farm. Then Jacob’s character came into question because how could he love but not recognize why she did what she did? But never fear. A little side trip where he gets to see the truth of his snobbery starts putting him on the right path through lovely analogies between life, faith, and acceptance.
As always, Valerie Comer offers a story with real people facing real problems and identifying their way out through a deeper understanding of their relationship with God and each other. It was exactly what I needed, bringing sunlight to my mood through far more than just the title.