Harvest Moon by Robyn Carr
Series: Virgin River #13
Also in this series: Virgin River, Whispering Rock, Virgin River, A Virgin River Christmas, Second Chance Pass, Second Chance Pass, Second Chance Pass, Temptation Ridge, Paradise Valley, Forbidden Falls, Forbidden Falls, Angel's Peak, Forbidden Falls, Promise Canyon, Wild Man Creek, Promise Canyon, Bring Me Home for Christmas, Redwood Bend, Sunrise Point, Shelter Mountain, Moonlight Road, Moonlight Road
Publisher: Mira Books
Publication Date: February 22, 2011
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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Rising sous-chef Kelly Matlock's sudden collapse at work is a wake-up call. Disillusioned and burned out, she's retreated to her sister Jillian's house in Virgin River to rest and reevaluate.
Puttering in Jill's garden and cooking with her heirloom vegetables is wonderful, but Virgin River is a far cry from San Francisco. Kelly's starting to feel a little too unmotivated…until she meets Lief Holbrook. The handsome widower looks more like a lumberjack than a sophisticated screenwriter—a combination Kelly finds irresistible. But less appealing is Lief's rebellious stepdaughter, Courtney. She's the reason they moved from L.A., but Courtney's finding plenty of trouble even in Virgin River.
Kelly's never fallen for a guy with such serious baggage, but some things are worth fighting for. Besides, a bratty teenager can't be any worse than a histrionic chef…right?
Readers encountered Kelly briefly in the previous novel, Wild Man Creek as Jilian’s award-winning San Francisco chef, a woman who really knows her way around a professional restaurant kitchen and who knows what she has to do to succeed. She has made some important friends, not the least of whom is her boss, a popular, suave, European restaurant owner who has convinced Kelly that she is on the fast track and in line to be head chef at one of his popular restaurants. Few non-restaurant people realize the intense pressure and jeolousy that permeates the professional cooking scene. And in Kelly’s case, there were people in her kitchen who had it in for her–all at the instigation of her boss’s wife.
Kelly knew he was married but he had been estranged from his spouse for years. That was the rumor, and that is what he told her. It would appear that wife-dear needed Kelly out of this kitchen and off her husband’s radar screen. The pressure gets to be too much, and boom . . . Kelly goes down for the count . . . literally. She leaves San Francisco for Virgin River. But her life is in shambles and while she is living in her sister’s house and getting lots of rest and down time, she knows that she cannot stay there forever. What about her future? Into her life comes Leif Holbrook, a man who is in Virgin River for the sake of his step-daughter, Courtney. Her mother is dead–Leif is still grieving over the death of his wife–but she resents him, resents the move to Virgin River, resents her father, resents her step-mother, resents Kelly . . . you mention it and Courtney is sure to resent it. So once again, Robyn Carr brings together people who need to find direction in their personal journey, who have been either overwhelmed or shot down by circumstances, who find themselves without significant support systems and who just plain don’t know what’s coming next.
That Kelly and Leif begin to act on their attraction is a given. After all, this is a romance. But there are some fairly large “flies in the ointment” and it is those complications that make this an interesting story. As always, it is the human component that makes the story. I think this is every bit as good as any of the Virgin River novels that preceeds it. In fact, I think it is truly a compelling story. The issues between Courtney and Leif, between Courtney and her dad, the genuine caring Courtney needs to acknowledge in both Kelly and Leif, and the healing power of love are all the spice that makes this novel intriguing. It isn’t that Kelly & Leif’s story isn’t primary; it is. But all the swirl of human drama that surrounds them and the push-pull that drama creates is what gives this novel its own signature place in the series. And in Kelly’s case, it is also an opportunity for her to back away from the self and power driven food service profession, to evaluate the people, her own dreams, her desires for the future, and whether the people who have always seemed important are truly genuine and necessary to her future happiness.
In this novel there are lots of things going on inside the people as well as in the external context. What I have continued to prize about this series and about this particular novel is that there are so many layers to the story. In addition, there are the continuing stories of the residents of Virgin River who have been introduced in previous novels. Their personal journeys continue on and some face old problems with new solutions while others encounter new problems which appear to have no solution. In other words, real and messy human living. Ms Carr has written what is, in my opinion, one of the best continuing sagas about a town and its people, and in so doing, has given her readers opportunities to face some of their own situations through the eyes of these fictional characters.
I have loved all the Virgin River novels I have read so far, but in honesty, this is one of my favorites. Together with the previous novel about Kelly’s sister, Jillian, they are two of the best.
Rating: 5 out of 5.