Series: Virgin River

Retro Review: Shelter Mountain by Robyn Carr

Posted May 10, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 12 Comments

Retro Review: Shelter Mountain by Robyn CarrReviewer: Rowena
Sheltering Mountain by Robyn Carr
Series: Virgin River #2
Also in this series: Virgin River, Whispering Rock, Temptation Ridge (Virgin River, #6), , , , , , , ,

Publication Date: May 1st 2007
Pages: 376
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five-stars

For the second time in a year a woman arrives in the small town of Virgin River trying to escape the past.

John “Preacher” Middleton is about to close the bar when a young woman and her three-year-old son come in out of a wet October night. A marine who has seen his share of pain, Preacher knows a crisis when he sees one—the woman is covered in bruises. He wants to protect them, and he wants to punish whoever did this to her, but he knows immediately that this inclination to protect is something much more.
Paige Lassiter has stirred up emotions in this gentle giant of a man—emotions that he has never allowed himself to feel.

But when Paige’s ex-husband turns up in Virgin River, Preacher knows his own future hangs in the balance. And if there’s one thing in the marines’ motto of Semper Fidelis—always faithful—has taught him, it’s that some things are worth fighting for.

******As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

Holly: Rowena and I used to love this series. I remember falling into Virgin River (book 1) and never wanting to leave the little mountain town.

This review was originally posted on October 4, 2007.
In the second book of the Virgin River trilogy, we follow John “Preacher” Middleton and Paige Lassiter on their adventure toward true love, a true love that will last forever and ever, Amen. We meet Paige Lassiter when she stumbles into Jack and Preacher’s Bar and Grill on a stormy night. She’s carrying her three year old son, Christopher and he’s sleeping and she’s in desperate need of …help. She’s very wary of Preacher, being the big bear of a man that he is and because she’s been badly beaten, Preacher does his best to help her, so his first order of business is to try to convince this young woman to stick around town for a little while so she can heal. She finally agrees and as the days pass, a love bond is formed between Paige and John and they slowly become a family unit, one that will go to the ends of the earth to help, protect and love the hell out of each other.

Now, I’m not going to lie and say that I was so looking forward to reading this book after reading the masterpiece (well in my eyes anyway) that was Virgin River. You see, in Virgin River, John “Preacher” Middleton is described as a big, bald motherbrother with bushy eyebrows, likened to Mr. Clean.

Mr. Clean? Yeah…not so my choice for Sexiest Man of the Year, if he’s yours, more power to you but for me? Not so much. So, being the shallow young woman that I am, I had a hard time getting excited about reading his book because, well…I wanted a hot stud of a hero and to me, Preacher just wasn’t it….but, I was happy when I started this book to learn that even though Preacher wasn’t the most hottest of heroes, he was still a very good and solid hero, one that I ended up loving (in a purely sisterly way of course) the hell out of, so that just goes to show you just how good, Robyn Carr is…I loved Preacher!

In this book, Jack and Mel are having their baby, Mike Valenzuela, their Marine friend is shot on the job and out on disability, Rick and Liz go through some really rough patches in their journey to adulthood and Preacher leans on the support of his friends to help Paige and her little boy fight the big bad monster that comes in the form of Paige’s evil ex husband, Wes Lassiter.

There was so much going on in this book and it should have left me feeling confused, miffed even because a lot of pages were dedicated to the townfolk of Virgin River and then to the setting up of the next book, Whispering Rock, which will star Mike Valenzuela and Brie Sheridan. The kicker of it all though, is I wasn’t mad, I didn’t feel cheated out of John and Paige’s story because I felt that Robyn Carr did a fabulous job of incorporating everything into this one book. I don’t feel that John and Paige needed more page time for their story because I felt that there was the right amount of EVERYTHING in this book.

I fell right in love with Paige and Chris for Preacher when I was reading this book and though I enjoyed the bits and pieces of their story that was laid out for me to read, I felt that the other parts of this book, the Rick and Liz parts, the Mike parts, the Jack and Mel parts were all creatively included in this story and made me feel like I was apart of the town of Virgin River, not merely reading about them.

What I really enjoyed about this story, is the way it’s told. Robyn Carr writes her stories, making the reader (well, this reader anyway) feel as though she’s sitting on a bar stool at Jack’s at the end of the day, beer in front of them, while they watched everything going down around them. I felt what the characters felt, I grieved with the characters and I was steamed right alongside, Preacher, Jack and Mike when Wes came into town, interrupting their town life. I was scared right alongside Paige, when she walked out of the corner store, coming back from watching Soap Opera’s to find the one man that has the ability to render her scared out of her wits, Wes. I felt Jack’s rage when Wes pushed Mel down and I raged right beside Preacher…I could even taste the cookies that Preacher and Christopher made, RC is that good with a pen.

This book was more than just about Preacher and Paige finding love together. It’s about the small town that they live in and the people that surround them. It’s about unity and family and those are things that I really enjoy in a book. This book certainly does not disappoint. I fell right in love with this story as I did when reading, Virgin River.

Gosh, I’m hoping against hope that RC decides to write, Rick’s story because I have come to love the hell out of that boy. I got all teary eyed when all the crap went down with him and Liz, my heart broke right along with him and when he chooses to become a man and make Jack and Preacher proud of him, my heart swelled because I have fallen head over heels in love with this little boy who is growing up to be such a wonderful man. I’m rooting him on because I love him that much and I hope to high heaven that he gets his own story because I think he totally deserves one. Another man in this story that I fell like a rock for was, Mike Valenzuela. Goodness, even all sick and “weak dicked” this man to me is one sexy motherbrother. I already started his book and am counting the minutes until I can read the book again, that’s how much I loved Mike in this story, I already approve of his heroine choice and I’m soaking up the words as fast as I could because this series is just fantabulous!

I’m giving this book an A because I just loved it to pieces and thought RC did a fabulous job writing this, she’s totally going on my Auto-Buy list because of this series, kudos, Mrs. Carr, well done.

5 out of 5

five-stars


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Guest Review: Sunrise Point by Robyn Carr

Posted April 24, 2012 by Judith in Reviews | 2 Comments

Also in this series: Virgin River, Whispering Rock, Temptation Ridge (Virgin River, #6), , , , , , , , Sheltering Mountain

Judith’s review of Sunrise Point  (Virgin River series #16) by Robyn Carr

Tom Cavanaugh may think he wants a traditional woman, but in Virgin River, the greatest tradition is falling in love unexpectedly….

Former Marine Tom Cavanaugh’s come home to Virgin River, ready to take over his family’s apple orchard and settle down. He knows just what the perfect woman will be like: sweet, decent, maybe a little naive. The marrying kind.  Nothing like Nora Crane. So why can’t he keep his eyes off the striking single mother?

Nora may not have a formal education, but she graduated with honors from the school of hard knocks. She’s been through tough times and she’ll do whatever it takes to support her family, including helping with harvest time at the Cavanaugh’s orchard. She’s always kept a single-minded focus on staying afloat…but suddenly her thoughts keep drifting back to rugged, opinionated Tom Cavanaugh.  Both Nora and Tom have their own ideas of what family means. But they’re about to prove each other completely wrong.


Those Virgin River characters just keep coming!!  And for readers like me who look forward to every single book in this series, this latest novel is another romp through a community that has enthralled me from Book 1.  Here our heroine, Nora Crane, continues to seek some way of putting herself and her two children in a better circumstance, and she is willing to do whatever it takes.  We first encounter her in the Christmas story when members of the community, namely Pastor Noah, discover her living in an abandoned cabin, nearly freezing to death, ill and with two small kids who are nearly starving to death.  Through the generosity of the community, Nora has done better than she ever expected after being abandoned by her kids’ father.  Yet she is fiercely independent and any future for her must be forged through her own efforts.  She is willing to work hard and she proves it as the newest employee of Cavanaugh family as a fruit picker during their apple harvest.
Unlike some reviewers, I have come to view the residents of Virgin River as good friends and as their number grows I am once again delighted to visit this unique community filled with people who come from lots of backgrounds, whose varied circumstances include some real struggles to not only survive but to thrive.  Somehow they have found their way to Virgin River and there they have found people who are accepting and generous to a fault, who will share very limited resources in order to live out a code of caring and friendship that is becoming increasingly rare in today’s world.  One of the most generous is Tom’s grandmother, a woman who was struggling with a less-than-stellar background and who was facing starvation and homelessness when Tom’s great-grandmother hired her, much the same was as Nora was hired over Tom’s objections.  This a woman who stands out as a person of wit and wisdom, seeing the value in people that may be missed by those looking only on externals, and not afraid to speak up when she encounters a person whose values are rooted in materialism instead of people.  Her encounters with the widow of one of Tom’s fellow soldiers are really funny, and the fun just grows when she brings in her best friends and cronies to assist her in slowly stripping away the facade of this woman who really only wanted Tom for any wealth he might realize if she could convince him to marry her and then sell the orchard.  I guess she found out!!
This is another wonderful story about authentic people and their ways of inter-relating to one another, of dealing with struggles and issues from the past, and never missing an opportunity to “be there” for one another.  There is authenticity in the way the care about each other, gentle loving and fierce loyalty, and the kind of friendship that won’t allow anything to come between people about whom they care deeply.  Even Tom’s prejudice against Nora as a single, unwed mother and his rejection of her because of her children had to be re-examined as he was caught between two very different women and how each affected his plans for the future.  
Perhaps the most heart-tugging part of Nora’s story was her reconnecting with her father, a man who had been a tenured professor at Stanford University and whose presence in her life had been snuffed out by a mother whose insecurities and emotional illness insured that Nora never knew her dad.  Her mom even tried to convince her that her memories were false.  I found myself tearing up as I read of their tentative efforts to once again come to know one another and perhaps the biggest of Nora’s struggles to finally be able to call him “Dad.”  And those of us who have really had to deal with some fairly hefty financial challenges in the past can understand Nora’s joy at having her own car after almost dying a year earlier because she didn’t even have clothes and food for herself and her kids.
Lots to like in this story and getting to know Nora better and being a part of a cast of characters who cheer her on is delightful.  An entertaining and enjoyable novel, beautifully written with characters who are able to hold their own in this ensemble of friends and relatives.  I have gone back and re-read a number of the Virgin River stories and enjoyed them as much or more the second time around.  I think this is going to be one that will be a joy during future “visits” and will be one of the favorites in this series.

I give it a rating of 4.25 out of 5

You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.
This book is available from Mira. You can buy it here or here in e-format.


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Guest Review: Redwood Bend by Robyn Carr

Posted February 21, 2012 by Judith in Reviews | 2 Comments

Also in this series: Virgin River, Whispering Rock, Temptation Ridge (Virgin River, #6), , , , , , , , Sheltering Mountain

Judith’s review of Redwood Bend (Virgin River #18) by Robyn Carr.

 

Katie Malone and her twin boys’ trip along the beautiful mountain roads to Virgin River is stopped short by a tire as flat as her failed romance. To make matters worse, the rain has set in, the boys are hungry and Katie doesn’t have the first clue about putting on a spare. As she stands at the side of the road pondering her next move, she hears a distinct rumble. The sight of the sexy, leather-clad bikers who pull up beside her puts her imagination into overdrive.

Dylan Childress and his buddies are on the motorcycle trip of a lifetime. But the site of a woman in distress stops them in their tracks. And while the guys are checking out her car, she and Dylan are checking out one another. In one brief moment, the world tilts on its axis and any previous plans Katie and Dylan might have had for their futures are left at the side of the road.

WELCOME BACK TO THE RIVER.

There are those who really and truly believe that there are no coincidences, no acts of fate, no accidental meetings that prove to be fortuitous in a scary sort of way. And there are others who just can’t seem to get away from the fact that some encounters really do seem to be the result of some sort of cosmic planning. Whatever one’s belief or mindset, the meeting of Katie and Dylan in this story does seem fortuitous if only because this widowed mother and her 5-year-old twins are stranded on a narrow mountain road in Northern California with no cell phone connection and a really destroyed tire. The appearance of Dylan Childress and his biker friends certainly got Katie and her kids back on the road, but when the meetings between these two keep on happening, there does enter a sense that perhaps this odd kind of connection between these two was meant to be.

One could say that these two were hurting individuals. In some ways that is true. But Dylan was deeply wounded by parents, step-parents, half siblings and step siblings, the affluence of Hollywood that had been heaped on him as a successful child TV and movie actor, and the sense that everyone and everything in his parents’ lives took precedence over him. He has grown out of the laziness and self-centered approach to living and is not a successful business owner of a charter air service in Montana, thanks to a grandmother who refused to see her grandson walk down the same path his dad did. But one serious residual effect remains: Dylan is convinced that there is something in his family’s DNA that prevents him from ever being a successful husband and father. He carried around those old memories, the realization that he really wasn’t important to his mother, and the fear that was at the core of it all that he would ultimately be the same kind of relational failure as everyone else in his family.

Katie certainly wasn’t doing emotional handstands as she journeyed toward Virgin River where her brother lived. She was lonely–the kind of loneliness that seeps into the heart and soul like a cold, wet wind. Her Medal of Honor winning husband had died in Afghanistan before her twin boys were born but she would be the first person to tell you that she wouldn’t give up one second of her short-lived marriage to a man who truly loved her with a passionate heart. She will freely admit that she doesn’t want to be alone the rest of her life, but her main concern is her sons. All else pales in importance.

This novel brings a heavy dose of family connections to the story through the relationship between Katie and her brother and her brother’s significant other. It is also a curious look at a grandmother/grandson relationship that is respectful and loving, but each is living according to their personal dictates. Yet throughout there is that sense that Dylan has encountered a woman unlike any he has ever met, one who is confident, sassy, independent, loving to a fault when it comes to her children, her brother, and her friends. She is a woman who has developed the skills to live her own particular way according to the demands made on her and readers of the female persuasion will greatly enjoy the parts of the story that describe her mothering behaviors and if they are like me, will absolutely delight in the actions and words of those 5 year old twin boys–full of life and, as my mother-in-law would say, were full of pee and vinegar. They could get into more trouble in five minutes than any adult on the planet.

I am a confirmed fan of the Virgin River series and have been going back and reading some of the first novels in order to get a fuller picture of the characters that keep showing up in so many of the subsequent stories. I know there are readers who have grown weary of the series but I am not one of them. I don’t think they are at all stylized or formula stories any more than any other romance novel. Yet I find that I still want some of these people as my friends and neighbors. They are just really good people. It is always a joy to read about a community that is filled with realistic, life-like, just-as-troubled-as-we-are kinds of characters. They make the stories come alive for me. I hope you will get this book and enjoy it as much as I did.

I give it a rating of 4.5 out of 5

You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.

This book is available from Mira. You can buy it here or here in e-format.


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Guest Review: Bring Me Home For Christmas by Robyn Carr

Posted January 27, 2012 by Judith in Reviews | 1 Comment

Also in this series: Virgin River, Whispering Rock, Temptation Ridge (Virgin River, #6), , , , , , , , Sheltering Mountain

Judith’s review of Bring Me Home For Christmas (Virgin River #16) by Robyn Carr

This year, Becca Timm knows the number one item on her Christmas wish list—getting over Denny Cutler. Three years ago, Denny broke her heart before heading off to war. It’s time she got over her silly high-school relationship and moved on.

So she takes matters into her own hands and heads up to Virgin River, the rugged little mountain town that Denny calls home, as an uninvited guest on her brother’s men-only hunting weekend. But when an accident turns her impromptu visit into an extended stay, Becca finds herself stranded in Virgin River. With Denny. In very close quarters.

As the power of Christmas envelops the little town, Becca discovers that the boy she once loved has become a strong and confident man. And the most delicious Christmas present she can imagine.

I feel it important to state right off the bat that I am a confirmed Virgin River lover.  Every time I finish one of these books I have this persistent desire to find a place where these characters actually exist so that I can be a part of their lives.  For whatever reason, these novels really speak to my heart.  This holiday story is no exception.

 Both the main characters are people who have endured pain and brokenness in varying degrees.  Becca has struggled for three years to move past the broken heart, the questions, the sense of not really knowing how this all came about when Denny moved away from her emotionally and without her even knowing it, re-enlisted in the Marine Corp and was almost immediately sent to Afghanistan.  Yes, his mother’s death was terrible and ripped his heart out.  But the one person he didn’t turn to was Becca, the woman he claimed to love and wanted to marry.  Instead, he shut down and then he was gone, without a word for over two years.  When he returned Becca’s anger was significant and she told him to get lost.  Enter Doug, a UCLA law student who is smooth, good looking, from old Boston money, and he wants to marry her.  Yet the old love, the old hurts, the old memories of Denny just won’t go away.

There there is Denny, a young man who took Becca at her word and “got lost” as ended up in Virgin River, largely because his mother had told him that Jack Sheridan was his dad.  As it turns out (and you can read about that in a previous novel), Jack was not his dad, but Denny found in Jack the kind of man he would have wanted as a parent and their relationship was strong and close.  He has made a place for himself and is on his way to putting down even deeper roots when Becca shows up with her twin brother–Denny’s best friend–and two other guys with whom Denny had been planning an all-guys week of hunting and fly fishing.  Their initial encounter didn’t go well, neither did the following day as which time Becca jumps out of Denny’s truck, twists her leg, and ends up with a shattered ankle which required surgical pinning.  The added time she was required to spend in Virgin River was initially upsetting and yet, whose to know if it was providential.

This is a story that will seem “sappy” to some and yet it has about it the kind of sense that these two people really needed to talks out their break-up and resolve the questions that were in both their heads.  It is also an in-depth look at a community that is striving to survive and thrive in the midst of a very harsh economy and which is already the kind of town that looks out for everyone.  By virture of their remote location, they must rely on one another more than many communities, and as Christmas is approaching, their sense of needing to “be there” for one another is even more keen.  It is also a look into Becca’s family dynamic, her relationship with her twin brother, her need to be a person in charge of her own destiny, and how she deals with the pressures from family and friends over the issues in her personal life.  There is also the sense that the needs of the Virgin River family begin to help both Denny and Becca to sort out who they really are and to identify the path they must each travel in the future.  Sappy it may seem on the surface, but I think there are some weighty issues involved in this novel that are relevant to how we all live and how we perceive ourselves and others.

This may be a story that is wedded to the holiday season as its context, but I think it is one that is timely no matter the time of year.  It is one that I really enjoyed and think it is full of value and substance.

I give it a rating of 4.5 out of 5

You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.

This book is available from Mira. You can buy it here or here in e-format.


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Guest Review: Harvest Moon by Robyn Carr

Posted March 23, 2011 by Judith in Reviews | 3 Comments

Also in this series: Virgin River, Whispering Rock, Temptation Ridge (Virgin River, #6), , , , , , , , Sheltering Mountain

Harvest Moon (Virgin River)Judith’s review of Harvest Moon by Robyn Carr.  

Rising sous-chef Kelly Matlock’s sudden collapse at work is a wake-up call. Disillusioned and burned out, she has retreated to her sister Jilian’s house in Virgin River to rest and re-evaluate. Puttering in Jill’s garden and cooking with her heirloom gourmet vegetables is wonderful, but Virgin River is a far cry from San Francisco. Kelly is starting to feel a little too unmotivated–that is, until she meets screen writer Leif Holbrook. The handsome widower looks more like a lumberjack than a sophisticated screen writer–a combination that Kelly find’s irresistible. But less appealing is Leif’s stepdaughter, Courtney. She is the reason they moved to Virgin River from Los Angeles, but Courtney is finding plenty of trouble in her new home. Kelly has 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 . . . can she? 

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. I have no problem in giving this novel a rating of 5 out of 5.

This book is available from Mira. You can buy it here or here in e-format.


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