Romance Grows In Arcadia Valley by Various

A Wonderful Collection

Romance Grows In Arcadia Valley by various is a wonderful set of six books, all set in the fictional Arcadia Valley. They all have similar themes including subsistence farming and preserving the earth’s resources for subsequent generations by shopping locally and buying or producing things locally. The stories all have a wonderful, warm community feel to them with likable and realistic characters who are easy to empathise with.

I loved how the stories reference characters and places in the other novels which adds to the feeling of familiarity. All the authors write delightful stories that will warm your heart.

Spring’s Blessing by Mary Jane Hathaway is a delightful contemporary Christian romance. It has a wonderful feeling of community, showing what happens when people live out their faith. It also explores subsistence farming within a town, as they plant not only with care but with love.

The story explores dreams and disappointments, family and the faithfulness of God. The characters are delightful and I particularly loved seven year old Elena.

Mary Jane Hathaway included references to other works of literature – Harvey, Narnia, Peter Rabbit and many more. I recognised all the books mentioned and found myself transported back to childhood memories.

Spring’s Blessing was a wonderful read and I cannot wait for the subsequent novels.

Loaves And Wishes by Elizabeth Maddrey is a wonderful, warm, feel-good contemporary Christian romance. It explores love and life, jealousy and hard feelings, friendship and the faithfulness of God. The characters are all well rounded. It was so easy to empathise with Ruth who loved baking. She put her heart and soul into all her creations. Ruth’s best friend was Naomi, and this reminds the reader of the Bible story of Ruth and Naomi and the Bible passage “where you go, I’ll go…” Their friendship bond was unbreakable. Farmer Corban reminded me of Boaz in the book of Ruth as he ploughed his field, I remembered God telling Boaz to leave the edges of the field for the poor.

Yet again there was a wonderful feeling of community as the townspeople pulled together to help each other.

The novella also dealt with the theme of loss. It showed how characters wanted to preserve and honour their loved ones memories. They were good stewards of their inheritance.

A delightful tale and I cannot wait for the next three books in the series. I love all Elizabeth Maddrey’s writings.

Sheltered Hearts by Lee Tobin McClean is another wonderful read. The story focuses on the main theme of identity – who we are and whose we are. Too often we let ourselves be defined by others, when really our identity is all about who we are in God. “It doesn’t matter what men think of me, it matters what God thinks of me.”

Appearances are another theme. The reader is reminded that God looks at our inward appearance which is of utmost importance. We are never to listen to the lies that we and others tell ourselves – that we are too fat/thin/ugly/unlovable. We are to listen to God’s truths – we are loved by Him and we are beautiful.

The story shows the importance of family and the gift of hospitality.

I really enjoyed Sheltered Hearts. It was a wonderful read that spoke to my heart.

Sow In Love by Valerie Comer is yet another delightful tale in this set. The story revolves around Ecclesiastes ‘a time to sow’ and Solomon’s love poetry in Song Of Songs. The theme of sowing is both literal and spiritually. We sow God’s seeds of love wherever we go. Sometimes we see the harvest, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes the harvest happens quickly, sometimes it doesn’t. It takes a lifetime of being connected to the vine, to bloom as God intends us to.

This all links to the themes of faith and trust in God. We need to trust His plans for our lives.

The theme of confidence is also present. We need to grow and blossom under God’s watchful eye and believe His truths and not what the world tells us.

There is the whole idea of subsistence farming and a wonderful community feel to the whole novel. A community that works together can achieve so much more than lone individuals. Having a generous heart for others is what God desires. This is lived out in the novel.

A wonderful tale.

The Scent Of Romance by Danica Favourite is another delightful offering. The story focuses on love, families and a search for a father’s love. Our earthly fathers are far from perfect but we have a heavenly Father who loves us unconditionally. “Love isn’t something you have to earn.”

The tale shows the importance of living well and preserving our earth’s resources for subsequent generations. We are stewards of our bodies and need to take care of ourselves and not eat junk.

The bond of families is shown. Sometimes families become fractured. It is never too late to build bridges and restore relationships.

A perfect afternoon’s read.

A Romance Rekindled by Annalisa Daughety completes the set of books and is another delightful story. Its themes include new beginnings and second chances, love, restoration and families. Once again there is the emphasis on subsistence farming and producing and buying locally.

There are a lot of building projects and restoration. The buildings can be used as a metaphor for our lives – God can restore and rebuild that which was broken.

A wonderful story to conclude the set.

Life in the fictional Arcadia Valley will continue – each author is writing three more books, to be released roughly six months apart. I cannot wait to catch up with all the residents of Arcadia Valley once more.

I received this book for free. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.

JULIA WILSON

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