Reverend Elsa Montgomery has turned away from God for the third time. Can she find her way back?
Multiple RITA award-winner O’Neal (How to Bake a Perfect Life, 2010, etc.) offers this warm, comfortingly predictable romance about the healing powers of nature, love and community. After tragedy strikes her Seattle-based church community, Reverend Elsa finds herself sinking into a deep depression, grieving not only the death of a parishioner but also her own faith. Tamsin, Elsa’s sister, is worried, her own congregation insists she take a sabbatical and her oldest friend, Joaquin, drags her back home to Pueblo. Years ago, Elsa and Joaquin had nearly married, but a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago had convinced him to become a priest. Now Joaquin, better known as Father Jack, plans to help Elsa heal by convincing her to spearhead a community garden in his impoverished parish. Yet both Elsa and Joaquin have some lingering feelings for each other to work through—feelings that can no longer be ignored when the ruggedly handsome (and tellingly named) Deacon McCoy turns up as the landscaping expert. Meanwhile Tamsin has troubles of her own. Her husband has disappeared, the feds have indicted him for financial shenanigans of international proportions and her daughter just might be engaged to an Italian count. Joaquin, Elsa, Deacon, Tamsin and the community come together to clear the land, plant seeds and nurture the garden that begins to heal all of their hurts. The forces of good in this novel are well developed through the ministries of Father Jack and Elsa, as well as the many communal acts of goodness, such as the soup kitchen, the quilting circle and the garden itself. Darkness looms with gangs intent on destroying the garden and the memories of what happened in Seattle. Yet those forces of evil offer only glancing blows.
A book that offers happy but not believable endings.