Secretly Yours is Valerie Comer's latest book and it promises to be a delight for readers of romance and people who love a good Valentine's Day story! :)
Alexis: Tell me about your latest novella, Secretly Yours.
Valerie: Chef Lindsey Solberg agrees to cater the church's Valentine's Day fundraising banquet as a favor to her teen sister, but she's shocked to discover the bad boy from her high school days is now Riverbend's youth pastor. Seriously? How could he have changed that much? Nick Harrison has prayed for years for an opportunity to make amends. Now Lindsey's back in Riverbend and won't give him the time of day. What's a guy to do except leave a trail of gifts from a secret admirer?
Lindsey's heart takes a beating when she realizes the boy who was never good enough is now a far better man than she deserves.
Secretly Yours is A Riverbend Romance Novella 1. What is the Riverbend Romance series all about? How many books will be in the series? When is the release date for each book?
The Riverbend series is intended to include 20-25K Christian contemporary romance novellas. At the moment, I am planning five stories for 2015, one for each season plus Christmas. Secretly Yours takes place from early January through mid-February, so it is the winter novella. Pinky Promise takes place from mid-March through mid-May, covering the spring season. It's already written, and I plan to release it in early April. I don't have titles for the other three yet, but I'm aiming for June, September, and November. I'm fitting three full-length Farm Fresh Romance novels into 2015 as well, so things are still a bit fluid after the next couple of months.
When and why did you write Secretly Yours?
I started this story in early December, then set it aside to complete my March Farm Fresh Romance release, Dandelions for Dinner. I wrote most of Secretly Yours in the first two weeks of January…and wrote Pinky Promise in the remainder of the month!
Part of the "why" has to do with needing a bit of a break from all the togetherness on Green Acres Farm as featured in the Farm Fresh Romance series. It was time to create a new world and play with some new characters—ones with fewer connections to the characters in all the other Riverbend stories. The novellas will be more of a collection than a series.
Who is your leading lady? What are her desires and flaws?
Lindsey Solberg is a young professional chef. She'd been part of an innovative start-up restaurant, but left when her mother died so that she could return to Riverbend and spend time with her teenage half-sister, Madison. Her primary goal at the beginning is to buffer Madison from her dad, who's not an exemplary father. She plans to stay in Riverbend only until Madison graduates from high school in a year and a half.
One of her flaws is that she doesn't truly believe people can change. She has her step-dad in a box, but there's also room in the box for Nick Harrison, who was a suave jock in high school.
Who is your leading man? What are his strengths and weaknesses?
Lindsey isn't wrong about Nick Harrison. A decade ago, he was a complete jerk. Even he has painful memories about those days! But God got hold of his life during college and rerouted him to seminary. He's now Madison's youth pastor with a passion for introducing people, especially teens, to Jesus.
He's never forgotten how he treated Lindsey years ago. God has forgiven him, but it's not easy to convince her to give him another chance.
Your leading lady is a chef! What is her specialty?
Lindsey is a chef at a farm-to-table restaurant. Even in the short novella length, I was able to include a fun scene with her boss, Antonio, as they discuss the menu for the church Valentine's Day banquet. This event is a youth group fundraiser for an upcoming missions trip Madison will be going on… and which Nick is coordinating as the youth pastor.
If you could order and eat a meal by Chef Lindsey, what would it be and why?
I would love to enjoy the lamb chops she hoped to prepare for the banquet before the realities of her budget caught up with her!
Nick Harrison used to be a bad boy when Lindsey knew him. How is he different when he re-enters her life? Or is he (different)?
He's just as devastatingly hot as he'd been a decade before, but his rude cockiness has been replaced with a mature self-confidence. The biggest difference, though, is that he is now a believer on fire for God.
Tell me about your story world of Riverbend. Is it a town, city, suburb or country? What does it look like, smell like, feel like? Is it fictional or found in real-life and if so, where?
Ah, Riverbend! It is the quaint Canadian town you wish you were from, where everyone knows everyone, seasons are celebrated, and love is in the air. It's also a fictional community in southeastern British Columbia, where I live. Except where I live is real.
Riverbend is a long, skinny town beside the Sandon River with a riverside park and bike path (good for snowshoeing, too!). The downtown is filled with unique shops and eateries, helping create an idyllic setting.
It smells like glacier-fed streams, sunshine on wildflowers, and fragrant forests…but maybe I'm getting ahead of Secretly Yours. The aromas for the winter novella are more along the line of "snow is in the air!"
Why did you choose Riverbend as the setting for your story?
I knew I wanted a place readers and I would all enjoy revisiting many times. Fans and friends on my Facebook author page have had a hand in suggesting businesses and features. Riverbend was created for just this moment.
What do you hope readers will cherish the most about Secretly Yours?
I truly hope readers will catch a glimpse of the passionate love God has for them through this story.
What is the significance of including Valentine’s Day in this story?
I daydreamed a set of seasonal stories, knowing I wanted a bonus for Christmas. Thus, the winter novella was not Christmas—I was always good at those deductive puzzles. But Valentine's Day is firmly in winter, so it seemed a good angle for a crispy, snowy tale.
Should readers buy this book before Valentine’s Day or after? Why or why not?
Valentine's Day is the finale for the story. Sorry if that is a spoiler, lol. But the focus on the novella isn't February fourteenth per se. It's a romance that takes place in winter, and happens to include that date. Read the story anytime of year where you'd like a heartwarming tale with the scent of falling snow.
How will you spend Valentine’s Day this year (in real-life)?
Interestingly enough, our church youth group is hosting a fundraiser banquet, and my husband and I expect to attend. I'll be surprised if the menu and presentations are similar to the ones in Secretly Yours, though!
Thanks for the interview, Val! Thank you for offering a free, Kindle e-book copy of your book Secretly Yours! Please leave a question for my readers which will automatically enter their names in the random drawing after they answer your question in the comment section. In order to qualify, the readers must leave their e-mail address with their comment so Valerie can contact the winner and send their e-book. The contest starts Feb. 15 and ends at 11:00 p.m. EST on Feb. 22. The winner will be announced on Feb. 23 and will receive the e-book from Valerie soon after.
Valerie’s question: In what way has God revealed His passionate and personal love to you?
Valerie Comer’s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local foods movement as well as their creation-care-centric church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.
Valerie writes Farm Lit where food meets faith, injecting experience laced with humor into her award-winning Farm Fresh Romance stories.
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Buy Valerie's books:
Secretly Yours: A Christian Valentine's Day Romance (Riverbend Romance Novella Book 1)
Raspberries and Vinegar: A Farm Fresh Romance (Farm Lit) by Valerie Comer
Wild Mint Tea: A Farm Fresh Romance (Farm Lit) by Valerie Comer
Sweetened with Honey: A Farm Fresh Romance (Farm Lit) by Valerie Comer
Snowflake Tiara: 2-in-1 Christmas Collection by Angela Breidenbach, Valerie Comer