Today I thought I’d take a trip down Memory Lane to 2015 and revisit a few of my favorite Valentine’s contemporary romances by Inspy Romance authors.
Secretly Yours is set in the small fictional town of Riverbend in British Columbia, Canada. Lindsey Solberg hasn’t had an easy life. She returns to Riverbend to help her stepfather care for her stepsister, Madison, following the tragic loss of their mother. Pastor Nick is the reformed bad boy who messed with Lindsey’s heart when they were in high school. Lindsey struggles to believe that he’s a changed man, and she is reluctant to trust him. She’s not looking for romance, and her mother’s relationship history has turned her off the whole concept of marriage.
Lindsey agrees to be the chef for the church youth group’s Valentine fundraising dinner, and she’s drawn into an easygoing friendship with Nick. I have a soft spot for reformed bad boy heroes, and Nick didn’t disappoint me. Nick regrets his actions in high school and comes up with his secret admirer plan to win Lindsey’s heart. His faith is strong and he gently encourages Lindsey to explore her own lukewarm faith.
I was intrigued by the story premise for Forget Paris. Zoe is different to the typical romance heroine. Not only is she cynical about romance, she’s doing post graduate psychological research to prove her theory. Zoe is not afraid to share her opinion of romance, and it’s kind of like the author has cast one of the real life female critics of the romance genre as the heroine in her own story.
Zoe meets Gabe in Paris on Valentine’s Day and she asks him to join her in completing her research test. Her theory is they’ll spend the day together and develop romantic feelings due to forced proximity. But, those feelings won’t be real. Instead, they’ll be based on an illusion of romantic love.
Complete strangers when they have a chance meeting on a Parisian bridge, Gabe is fascinated by Zoe and her interesting ideas about romance. His loving parents recently passed and he’s alone in Paris to fulfil his mother’s long held dream. Meeting Zoe is a pleasant distraction from his grief. They spend Valentine’s Day together, working on the assumption they’ll never meet again.
Zoe is a complex and, at times, prickly character who has trust issues. Gabe reappears in her life and she struggles to process her developing feelings for him. I liked Gabe and I thought he was very sweet and patient with Zoe. In one scene her twin sister, Tiff (the heroine in Book 3, A Model Bride), gives Zoe a lecture, and I’m cheering for Tiff, hoping Zoe will finally listen to her twin rather than hiding behind her fears and assuming she knows best.
Zoe and Gabe grow in their love and faith during the story. Zoe’s big spiritual ‘aha moment’ brings the story together, which leads to satisfying and romantic ending. I finished the story believing that Zoe and Gabe’s love was for real and that their relationship would last the distance and survive the challenges of life. I loved the urban setting in Paris and London, and the colourful backdrop it provides for the story.
I first read this book back in 2015 when it was published under a different title. Kayla Russell made the decision many years earlier that she wasn’t going to settle and marry a man who didn’t meet most, if not all, of the items on her potential husband criteria list. She’s single and the co-owner of a flower store and it’s Valentine’s Day – her least favorite holiday.
Derek Parker is a musician who’s hiding away from the paparazzi in the small Oregon town where his mother lives. He is caring for his mother who’s recovering from a stroke, and he wants to simplify his life. His fame and successful music career has made him financially wealthy but it hasn’t brought him happiness.
Kayla meets Derek and she starts falling for him, despite her trust issues and without realizing Derek’s true identity. Derek holds back on sharing his former life with Kayla, and he regrets his decision when his past catches up with him and complicates his life.
Their growing relationship is tested as secrets are revealed and difficult circumstances place obstacles in their path. A fun and satisfying romance develops as Kayla and Derek are challenged by their faith and learn that God’s plan for their lives may differ to their own.
That’s it – my Top 3 Valentine’s Reads from 2015. All three romances are fun and light-hearted and, at the same time, have a spiritual thread in the story which means the characters are challenged to grow in their faith.
Have you re-read any Valentine’s romance stories this year? Or discovered any new Valentine’s romance books? I’d love to hear your thoughts.