Raspberries and Vinegar (stand-alone series) by Valerie Comer

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Price: Free!

Official Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis:

Josephine Shaw: complex, yet singleminded. A tiny woman with big ideas and, some would say, a mouth to match. But what does she really know about sustainable living as it relates to the real world? After all, she and her two friends are new to farming.

Zachary Nemesek is back only until his dad recovers enough to work his own land again. When Zach discovers three helpless females have taken up residence at the old farm next door, he expects trouble. But a mouse invasion proves Jo has everything under control. Is there anything she can’t handle? And surely there’s something sweet beneath all that tart.

My review:

This book caught my interest because it’s a Christian Romance novel, so I correctly assumed that it would be free of sexual scenes and things such as that. However, it also was missing a large part of romance.

I did like the book, but despite the unique characters, I felt that the romance aspect fell flat. Josephine Shaw had character, she strongly believes that God gave us earth and that we need to take better care of it and she’s on a mission to get everyone to come on board. She finds herself with her two best friends, Sierra and Claire, in the middle of a town on land that they’re determined to make into a self-sustainable farm.

Josephine, called Jo throughout the story, has a lot of problems. She’s enthusiastic about her cause, but sometimes she comes off as self-righteous and overbearing. Jo tends to jump to conclusions before she has the full story and often, it’s her best friend Sierra, that she accuses. While she recognizes the beauty of earth, she often fails to see the beauty in herself. I appreciated that aspect of her though, it was there, but it wasn’t pushed at the reader, she didn’t immediately start off with “I stared at my mousey brown hair and sighed. Why couldn’t I have gotten this color hair instead like that other girl?” Instead, while it was obvious that she doesn’t see herself in a positive light all the time, she doesn’t completely insult herself at any and every moment she can.

Zachary Nemesek, called Zach, the “Mr. Right” next door has problems too. He’s a bit selfish, has a bad habit of saying things he doesn’t mean, and when he gets riled up, he has a temper about as calm as a boiling teapot. He likes Jo, but his thoughts are pure about her which was refreshing. He cares for his parents, but at the same time he’s trying to break free from them. As a fully qualified vet, he wants to go back to the city and get his dream job, but persons from his past and incidents in his present are getting in his way. He doesn’t always understand how certain situations might look to other people and he has issues with explaining things at the right moments, but he has a good heart.

Both of their problems and aspirations clash with each other, yet, at the same time they seemed to bring Jo and Zach closer together. However, I wanted to see more interaction between them. I felt that most of it was them being mad over something but still thinking about each other. There were a few moments where they would talk civilly to each other, but it didn’t always end in a civil manner. I would have liked to see more endearing encounters to make the concept of them falling in love believable.

Valerie Comer skillfully wove the story together, using secondary characters to keep the story interesting but I wasn’t overwhelmed with them and they all had different personalities. As it was a Christian Romance novel, Comer sprinkled faith into the book, but not heavily, it didn’t sound preachy and it wasn’t forced upon the reader. I appreciated how the characters had internal battles and as the book progressed, it was obvious that they were being developed by the different choices they start to make and their choice of words. The book had a light air to it, it was a fun light read, for when you just want to curl up with a book and enjoy yourself. It had me gasping though, with plot twists that I wasn’t ready for and eye-opening mother-daughter moments. Overall, it was enjoyable and I would recommend it.

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