Book Review: ‘TIS THE SEASON by Robyn Carr

TisTheSeason
Series: Virgin River, #8 & #12
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Released: October 28, 2014
Source: Review copy from NetGalley


Together for the first time in one volume, two classic holiday stories — plus a bonus novella! — from #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr.

‘Tis the season for family, friendship and the thrill of a holiday romance…

UNDER THE CHRISTMAS TREE

With snow falling over the redwood forests, secluded Virgin River is the ideal place to spend the holidays. Each year, the close-knit community gathers in the town square to decorate and light a massive tree. Carols are sung, hot chocolate is shared—and a surprise left under the Christmas tree is about to bring two special people together!

MIDNIGHT CONFESSIONS

Holiday kisses don’t end with Christmas—there’s still the New Year’s Eve party at Jack’s Bar to attend. Locals and newcomers alike find themselves eager for that special countdown…and that midnight kiss.

So join us in Virgin River this year, where Robyn Carr’s trademark humor, warmth and sincerity will have you celebrating the festive season in your favorite mountain town.the festive season in your favorite mountain town.


I always enjoy visiting the cozy mountain town of Virgin River, my favorite fictional place. ‘TIS THE SEASON is a compilation of two holiday stories from the series. If you’re new to the Virgin River series, I might not recommend jumping in with this book. But if you’re a regular, you’ll enjoy catching up with favorite characters and meeting some new ones.

Under the Christmas Tree: An abandoned box of newborn puppies brings Nate, the hot, young town veterinarian, together with a softhearted salon owner named Annie. Annie was recently burned by a real loser, and she doesn’t think guys like Nate, who used to date young Southern Cal beauties, would be interested in her. Luckily, they had the squirmy little puppies to keep bringing them together. I think Annie’s obsession with the puppies was a bit excessive, but overall this was a sweet, cozy Christmas romance. 3 Stars.

Midnight Confessions: Of the two Virgin River stories, this was my favorite. Nate’s niece, Sunny, is visiting for the holidays, and he takes her to the annual New Year’s Eve party at Jack’s bar. Yikes, Sunny has some major emotional baggage and wants to stay far away from men. Drew, a med student, is smitten with Sunny, even though she’s cold, cold, cold. He’s determined to use his charm to chip away Sunny’s icy exterior. I enjoyed this couple’s romance, and wondered if they ever got their own full-length book! 4 Stars.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: FOUR FRIENDS by Robyn Carr

FourFriends
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Released: March 25, 2014
Source: Review copy from the publisher through NetGalley

Gerri can’t decide what’s more devastating: learning her rock-solid marriage has big cracks, or the anger she feels as she tries to repair the damage. Always the anchor for friends and her three angst-ridden teenagers, it’s time to look carefully at herself. The journey for Gerri and her family is more than revealing—it’s transforming.

Andy doesn’t have a great track record with men, and she’s come to believe that for her a lasting love is out of reach. When she finds herself attracted to her down-to-earth, ordinary contractor—a man without any of the qualities that usually appeal to her—she questions everything she thought she wanted in life.

Sonja’s lifelong pursuit of balance is shattered when her husband declares he’s through with her New Age nonsense and walks out. There’s no herbal tonic or cleansing ritual that can restore her serenity—or her sanity.

Miraculously, it’s BJ, the reserved newcomer to Mill Valley, who steps into their circle and changes everything. The woman with dark secrets opens up to her neighbors, and together they get each other back on track, stronger as individuals and unfaltering as friends.

———

I’m a huge fan of Robyn Carr’s contemporary romances, so I was excited to give her women’s fiction a try. Like the title states, the book is about four friends who live on the same block, and how they support each other through the toughest times in their lives. The story addresses the challenges many 40-something women face, such as infidelity, divorce, raising teenagers, and depression, in a relatable, down-to-earth way. Though the subject matter is heavy, Ms. Carr is able to leave readers with a sense of hope when it’s all said and done.

Reading FOUR FRIENDS stirred up all kinds of emotions for me. I got attached to this group of friends quickly, and though I might not have had their experiences personally, I could sympathize with them. The book starts with Andy throwing her husband’s things out on the front lawn, and within a couple of weeks, Sonja and Gerri are facing marital crises too. Gerri’s problems are particularly surprising because her marriage seemed unbreakable. BJ, the quiet neighbor on the block with her own dark secrets, comes out of her shell when the trouble starts and joins the group, saving Sonja’s life in the process.

Most of the men in this book were just awful, but there was one gem in the bunch – Bob. He’s the complete opposite of the selfish, egotistical jerks who Andy usually attracts, and I enjoyed watching their romance bloom. Thank goodness for Bob!

The constant throughout the book is friendship. It’s the strong bond between the four women that sees them through and makes them stronger in the end. I greatly enjoyed meeting these four friends, and I’d recommend their story to fans of poignant women’s fiction.

Rating: 4.25 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: A VIRGIN RIVER CHRISTMAS by Robyn Carr

VirginRiverChristmas
Series: Virgin River, #4
Publisher: Mira
Released: November 1, 2008
Source: Borrowed from the Library

Last Christmas Marcie Sullivan said a final goodbye to her husband, Bobby. This Christmas she’s come to Virgin River to find the man who saved his life and gave her three more years to love him. Fellow marine Ian Buchanan dragged Bobby’s shattered body onto a medical transport in Fallujah four years ago, then disappeared as soon as their unit arrived stateside. Since then, Marcie’s letters to Ian have gone unanswered.

Marcie tracks Ian to the tiny mountain town of Virgin River and finds a man as wounded emotionally as Bobby was physically. But she is not easily scared off. As Marcie pushes her way into his rugged and reclusive life, she discovers a sweet but damaged soul beneath a rough exterior.

Ian doesn’t know what to make of the determined young widow who forces him to look into the painful past and, what’s worse, the uncertain future. But it is, after all, a season of miracles and maybe, just maybe, it’s time to banish the ghosts and open his heart.

———

In honor of my birthday today, I’m posting the review for my FAVORITE romance read in 2013. A VIRGIN RIVER CHRISTMAS was ahh-mazing. This is the fourth book in the Virgin River series, and timeline-wise, it takes place at the same time as the third book, WHISPERING ROCK. Sure, you can read this one as stand-alone, but why would you want to miss out on the first three books filled with Virgin River goodness?

A VIRGIN RIVER CHRISTMAS begins with recently widowed Marcie Sullivan trying to find the man who saved her husband’s life in Iraq four years earlier. Ian Buchanan pulled severely wounded Bobby Sullivan to safety, but once stateside, Ian disappeared. The two Marines were close friends, and even Marcie developed a friendship with Ian through letters after Bobby’s injury, but then his letters stopped. But hers didn’t. She continued to write him at a general delivery address in the mountains of Northern California, so that’s where she begins her search.

Ian has become a reclusive, mountain man-type, with a bushy red beard on his face and an outhouse in his yard. He’s just fine being shut off from the rest of the world, even if it means living in a one-room cabin with no plumbing or electricity. On top of a mountain just outside of Virgin River is as good a place as any to hide from his demons, until stubborn and determined Marcie Sullivan shows up and forces him to face his past.

A VIRGIN RIVER CHRISTMAS is a tender and moving love story that had me tearing up a few times. The characterizations of Ian and Marcie were perfect – Ian as the emotionally scarred ex-Marine and Marcie as the young widow trying to find the strength to move on. I know it sounds like a sad tale, but it was also heartwarming and uplifting and even funny at times. I’m very curious to see what becomes of Ian and Marcie, and I’m hoping they make an appearance in future books.

Loved it! I highly recommend this book and this series!

Rating: 5 Stars

Book Review: WHISPERING ROCK by Robyn Carr

WhisperingRock

 

Series: Virgin River, #3
Publisher: Mira Books
Released: June 1, 2007
Source: Borrowed the eBook from the Library

Virgin River has sheltered more than a few lost souls over the years—and there’s always room for more….

Virgin River became a safe haven for Sacramento prosecutor Brie Sheridan after she nearly lost her life at the hands of a crazed criminal. Though she still has fears she can’t escape, she also has someone who wants to show her just what it means to trust again.

A decorated marine reservist, LAPD officer Mike Valenzuela was badly wounded in the line of duty. Twice divorced, he secretly longs for the kind of commitment and happiness his marine buddies have found—a woman who can tie up his heart forever.

Mike will do anything to help Brie free herself from painful memories. Passionate, strong and gentle, he vows to give back to her what she’s so selflessly given him—her heart, and with it, a new beginning.

———

It was good to be back in Virgin River! WHISPERING ROCK is the third installment of the series, and it continues the stories of Jack & Mel, Preacher & Paige, and other residents of the tiny California mountain town readers have met in the previous books, plus some new faces arrive in town.

The featured romance this time was between Mike Valenzuela (Jack’s friend) and Brie Sheridan (Jack’s little sister). Virgin River is known as a place that troubled souls come for shelter and healing. This is true for Mike and Brie, both victims of violent crimes. I loved watching their causal, flirty friendship from the last book developed into a serious relationship based on patience, understanding, and trust. Even though Mike was his Marine brother and very good friend, Jack wasn’t too happy about him hooking up with his baby sister! Ah, well. Poor Jack.

I was also intrigued by a side story involving Mel, the town’s nurse practitioner and midwife, finding out there’s a predator putting area teenage girls in danger. She teams up with Mike to figure out what’s going on.

I enjoyed WHISPERING ROCK as much as the first two books – 5 stars all around! Emotional stories, complex characters, romance, and a touch of suspense. Highly recommended! Next up: A VIRGIN RIVER CHRISTMAS.

Rating: 5 Stars

Book Review: THE WANDERER by Robyn Carr

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Series: Thunder Point, #1
Publisher: Mira
Released: March 26, 2013
Source: Review copy from NetGalley

Nestled on the Oregon coast is a small town of rocky beaches and rugged charm. Locals love the land’s unspoiled beauty. Developers see it as a potential gold mine. When newcomer Hank Cooper learns he’s been left an old friend’s entire beachfront property, he finds himself with a community’s destiny in his hands.

Cooper has never been a man to settle in one place, and Thunder Point was supposed to be just another quick stop. But Cooper finds himself getting involved with the town. And with Sarah Dupre, a woman as complicated as she is beautiful.

With the whole town watching for his next move, Cooper has to choose between his old life and a place full of new possibilities. A place that just might be home.

———

I’ve recently read the first couple of books from Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series and absolutely loved them, so I was excited to get started with her new series on the ground floor. It did not disappoint! Once again, Ms. Carr delivers strong characters who draw you into the story with their depth and emotion, and an amazing small-town setting that is an engaging character in and of itself.

The story takes place in Thunder Point, a remote community on the rocky coast of Oregon. Hank Cooper comes to town after his friend Ben dies and leaves him an old run-down bar/bait shack and a huge chunk of beachfront property. I enjoyed how the book started out with a mystery – even though there was no evidence found, Cooper suspects there was foul play involved in Ben’s death. He befriends Mac McCain, the town’s deputy sheriff, and together they look for clues as to what really happened to Ben.

Cooper is a loner-type who doesn’t like to stay in one place long, but he owes it to Ben to fix up his place and decide what’s best for the property. Along the way he meets Sarah, a Coast Guard helicopter pilot raising her teenage brother, Landon. There is a strong attraction between Cooper and Sarah, but Sarah’s been burned by men in the past, and doesn’t want to risk she and Landon being abandoned again. How can an emotionally unavailable man and an emotionally scarred woman overcome their hurdles and make it work?

This book seems to have set the foundation for the series, and much like Virgin River, the secondary characters in Thunder Point have their own stories too. There’s Mac, the deputy sheriff, and Gina, a single mom and waitress pursuing a Social Work degree. There’s also Landon and Eve, Mac’s 16-year old daughter. A big part of the story was Landon’s troubles in school, and I loved the bond that formed between Cooper and Landon as a result.

Maybe the only thing I didn’t like was that Sarah and Cooper didn’t actually meet until the book’s half-way point. There was a lot of introducing the town that happened before, which I understand as a first book in the series. But still, I wanted them to get together sooner. 🙂

THE WANDERER laid a strong foundation for the Thunder Point series, and I really enjoyed it. Eagerly waiting for more!

Rating: 4 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.