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
This book is available from Mira. You can buy it here