Thursday, January 19, 2012

Deep in the Valley by Robyn Carr

Welcome to Grace Valley, California---where blood runs thicker...ties bind stronger...and love is all the more sweet. 

Visitors to the town often remark about the valley's peace and beauty---both of which are plentiful. Unlocked doors, front porches, pies cooling in the windows---this is country life at its finest. But visitors don't always see what lies at the heart of a community. Or just beyond... 

June Hudson grew up in Grace Valley, the daughter of the town doctor. Leaving only to get her medical training, she returned home and followed in her father's footsteps. Some might say she chose the easy, comfortable route...but June knows better. 

For June, her emergency room is wherever she's needed---or wherever a patient finds her. Always on call, her work is her life, these people her extended family. Which is a good thing, since this is a town where you should have picked your husband in the ninth grade. Grace Valley is not exactly the place to meet eligible men---until an undercover DEA agent suddenly starts appearing at all sorts of strange hours. 

Everybody has secrets down in the valley. Now June has one of her own.

Today, I am bringing the first half of a buddy review that I have done of Deep in the Valley by Robyn Carr with Bree from All the Books I Can Read. As I have mentioned before, Bree lives about ten minutes from me, so we meet up semi regularly and always have a lot of fun chatting about the books we are reading, and giving each other recommendations! It was fun to have a written conversation about a book too, even though the post took much longer to complete than it should have as a result of my unexpected hiatus! Sorry about that Bree!

Bree's thoughts are in italics. Don't forget to head over to her blog to check out the second part of the discussion too!

M: The obvious place to start really is with a comparison to the Virgin River series that we both enjoy reading a lot. For me this was almost as if all the drama of three or four Virgin River books was crammed into one book, and then mixed with half a relationship. What did you think?

B: That certainly did seem the case. This book seemed longer but with...less of a main romantic storyline at the front. It’s obviously going to span out over a couple of books rather than 1 couple hooking up in 1 book, VR-style. But there are many characters and situations in this novel that seem straight out of of VR - almost as if Grace Valley IS Virgin River and vice versa. They could easily be the same town actually. We get the same issues, the same population basically doing the same things. All that’s missing is Jack’s Bar!

M: It is interesting to see that there is no Jack type of character, although June, the town doctor certainly came close to being that unifying character that the town looks to for leadership and for direction. Did you like June? Did you relate to her? I could relate to some of her feelings, particularly those relating to being single and having people suggest that the life that you have should be enough, when there is still a big whole in your life.

B: I didn’t -not- like June. But I’m not entirely sure I liked her either because I think that she came off as just a little too condescending at times. The way in which she reiterates that she chose to come back to Grace Valley, that she knows the town, that she knows the way in which things work and her judgement of poor John Stone, the city doctor looking for a change. She really did not handle the situation that arose with him very professionally, or confidently at all. I did like her relationship with her father and her aunt (although I see similarities again between those two characters and town icons in Virgin River) and her friendship with the local sheriff (who you’ll remember from his cameo in a Virgin River book!). Do you think this book is different enough to warrant being another series? Or should it just have been incorporated in as a Virgin River book or special edition?

M: I guess the thing to remember is that Deep in the River was actually written a number of years before the first book in the Virgin River series and so if anything, it should have been the other way around! It seems to me, without having actually read the other two books in the trilogy, that this book provided the blueprint for Virgin River with the common themes, but the Virgin River books are more romance focused and tend to be mainly dealing with one major issue at a time rather than the several that we had in this book.

This is a purely hypothetical question seeing as we both did read VR first, but if you read this book before the Virgin River series, could you see yourself becoming as hooked on Robyn Carr’s books in the way that we both have become?

B: See, I’m so ingrained in VR that I forgot this was published first! It felt a little weird reading about characters who play bit parts in that series, as being full on MC characters in this series. I think that if I had of read these first, I may never have read the Virgin River series although I think her writing and storytelling has improved immensely between these books and the VR books, so I’m glad I read those first, and not this one. This book for me, was too long and a bit too rambling. It could’ve been trimmed down to 300-350p and not lost anything. Ok I’ll reverse my question - having read THIS one, do you now think that Virgin River series loses a little something that made it special? The small town feel, the community spirit, the ways of getting things done (ie doctors etc being paid in produce by the less well off farming folk, the benevolent wealthy resident who donates money/services that the town needs) seemed really different and original to me at first, but now I realise that it’s all been done before in this series! Grace Valley felt like a rehashing of Virgin River, because I’ve read all the VR books first...but is VR just a better written rehashing of Grace Valley?

M: If I had of read the Virgin River series which is possibly a big if if I had of read this book first because I may not have actually picked those up, then you still would have read it because I would have nagged you until you did! *grin*.

I don’t know that this impacted my feelings about the Virgin River series, although I guess I was a little surprised to realise how much some of the Virgin River books were a rehash of this series. The VR books are definitely better written than this one which was just so crammed with people and events that there wasn’t any space to relax into the story in the same way I do with a VR book! I think it helped that June and John haven’t appeared in many of the recent VR books. If they had of been in the most recent ones I read it might have been a bit more of a shock. Tom, the town policeman did appear in a later book but it was one that I wasn’t as keen on as usual in the series so he kind of wasn’t on my radar as such.

Shall we talk a little about the story itself?

Head over to Bree's blog to see part 2 of our thoughts


  1. Great book, I think this is the first of the three in this particular series. I did read, or at least I think I did that there is now a 4th book in this series,meh inch is excellent.

  2. As far as I know the Grace Valley series is a trilogy and then some of the characters appear in the Virgin River series. Have you read those?

  3. No, I haven't Marg. I'll have a look on Amazon. Why does typing with iPad result in my first post ending in gobblygook? That last bit should say, which is excellent!

  4. Nope, must be dreaming! Just checked the author site - no mention of more in the Grace Valley series. So I'll perhaps start with Virgin River!

  5. I would strongly encourage you to start at the beginning of Virgin River and then inhale all the rest! so good!

  6. This author is on my radar because of you Marg. As lovely as this one sounds I think I'll start with the VR books. Thanks for the intro to Bree.

  7. I had not ever heard of this book, but I did enjoy the conversation, and think that I might also enjoy the book. It's so nice to have a reading buddy, and since Aarti and I do a lot of joint reads together, I know how wonderful it can be to get together and talk books!

  8. As a Texan writer who has adopted California as my home state, I'm always happy to hear of this beautiful place being used as the setting for a novel. California is its own world!