Friday, October 09, 2020

Vintage: Virgin River series by Robyn Carr

Recently I decided to occasionally share posts from the archives when something there catches my attention. Today, I am revisiting an old favourite series in honour of the fact that the next book in  the series comes out next week!


Earlier this year we were greeted with the news that there was going to be a new book in the Virgin River series by Robyn Carr. This was something of a surprise given that the last book to be published, the 18th entry in the series, came out 8 years ago. It's fair to say that I thought the series was well and truly done!

This series has a special place in my heart. I first read the first book in the series in early 2010, and then it wasn't until late in the year when suddenly I read the next 12 books in rapid succession. That's not something that I would usually do.

And then, it is also very unusual for me to start from the beginning of the series again, and reading the whole series again from beginning to end two years later.

The odd thing is that as much as I loved this series, no other series that Robyn Carr has written works for me in the same way, or the standalone books.

So, in honour of the release of Return to Virgin River, I am sharing parts of two posts that I originally posted in 2011 (part 1) and 2012 (part 2). There was some additional commentary in the original posts, but today I am just sharing the some more mini than others  review part of the posts.

Needless to say I intend to read Return to Virgin River as soon as I can!

Let's start from book 1 and work our way through!

Virgin River 

Mel Monroe needs a new start. After her husband is murdered in a robbery gone wrong, and burning out in her busy job as a nurse in a big city hospital, the idea of starting again in a small town as a midwife/nurse practitioner sounds very attractive, especially when you throw in a rent free log cabin as part of the bargain.

When she arrives in Virgin River she finds that the cabin is a dump, the doctor doesn't want help, and when a baby is left on her doorstep life is even more complicated. It gets even more so when she starts having feelings for Jack Sheridan, the handsome ex marine who owns the bar in town.

Shelter Mountain

When Paige Lassister arrives in Virgin River late at night with her three year old son in tow, she is looking for somewhere to hide from her abusive husband. John "Preacher" Middleton is immediately determined to protect Paige, no matter the cost.

The man can seriously cook, and when he fell for Paige, he fell completely. It was fun to watch a man who is so uncomfortable with women struggle with how to approach Paige as his feelings developed.

Whispering Rock

Mike Valenzuela isn't the kind of man that you would trust your sister with. Married twice, but with a long history of broken hearts behind him, Mike comes to Virgin River to recover after he was invalided out of the LA police department after being shot in the line of duty.

Also new to town, Brie Sheridan, Jack's baby sister. Jack knows that Mike is a player, after all he was present for many of Mike's adventures. But Brie is struggling after a brutal crime was committed against her, and she needs a friend more than anything, and Mike is that friend.

A Virgin River Christmas

Former marine Ian Buchanan lives in a remote cabin on a mountain away from civilisation, and away from people, and that's the way he likes it. At least, until Marcie Sullivan turns up on his doorstep. Marcie is the widow of Ian Buchanan, a man that Ian rescued when he was injured in battle. Marcie has spent the last three years looking after her badly injured husband, and now that he has passed on, it is time to find the man who saved him and say thank you. Ian has however chosen not to respond to her, and once she finds out where he is, she is determined once and for all to find him, so that she can move on with her life.  It could be though that through her actions, Ian is going to be forced to face both his past and his future.

Like all Christmas novels, there is a chance of being too sickly sweet, and there were elements of that, but for the most part Carr manages to avoid that.

Second Chance Pass

Paul Haggerty promised his best friend and fellow marine Matt Rutledge that if anything ever happened, he would look after Matt's wife Vanessa and their unborn child, never dreaming that he would be called on to honour that promise. The problem is that he has had feeling for Vanessa for a long time.

Vanessa is both rejoicing at the birth of her child, but grieving for the loss of her husband, but after a while it is time to move on. When she starts to show interest in the new doctor in town, Paul is going to have to either walk away from Vanessa once and for all, or tell her how he feels about her.

This book introduced some great characters that we then follow through the next few books, especially Vanessa's father! The biggest weakness in the book though for me was Vanessa, who I really didn't warm up to that much.

Temptation Ridge

Shelby McIntyre is a young woman who has carried a heavy burden for many years, caring for her terminally ill mother. Now that her mother has passed away, she is determined that she is going to take the chance to live - to travel, to study. First stop, Virgin River. She is coming to town for a short visit with her Uncle Walt and her cousin Vanessa. Virgin River is however just the first stop for her, until she meets Luke Riordan, former helicopter pilot and now co-owner of some cabins along Virgin River that he is renovating with a view to renting out to tourists. Luke is jaded after many years in the military, a checkered romantic historic, and now he is all for a good time. Just don't ask him for a commitment.

Luke and his family, including a whole bunch of very yummy brothers, all start to feature in Virgin River books now. I really loved his mother's storyline too!

Paradise Valley 

We met Rick Sudder in the first Virgin River series. Rick was a young man that Jack and his friends had taken under their wing. He found himself in trouble early on and dealt with issues that many older people never had to deal with. Jack was proud when Rick chose to join the Marines and he served with distinction. However, when he comes home a shattered man, having lost part of his leg, the man who returns is nothing like the boy that went away. He is damaged both physically and emotionally, and he is taking it out on everyone around him, especially his girl who has been waiting at home patiently for him. 

Under the Christmas Tree (novella in That Holiday Feeling anthology)

When a box of puppies are found under the town Christmas tree, Annie McCarty is determined to look after them, with or without the help of the new town vet, Nathaniel Jensen.

Annie is a local girl, and Nathaniel is returning to Virgin River to take over the local veterinary practice after many years away.

This Christmas story was a little more treacly than A Virgin River Christmas but I did like Nathaniel and Annie together, and could have done with seeing more of them as a couple in future books. They do appear a bit in one, but not as much as I would like.

Forbidden Falls

Reverend Noah Kincaid has no idea what he is let himself in for when he buys an abandoned church off of eBay in a small town called Virgin River.

He has even less idea of the upheaval it will cause in his life when he hires Ellie Baldwin as his assistance.

Ellie is a former pole dancer who is desperate for work. She needs to prove that she is a responsible mother so that she has some chance of getting custody of her kids from her creepy ex husband.

Angel's Peak

When Sean Riordan comes to Virgin River to visit his brother Luke, the last thing he expects is to run into his ex. It seems that Franci Duncan has well and truly moved on, but it does appear that she may have chosen to not tell him something very important.

Franci and Sean still have really strong chemistry. Can they move through the issues that drove them apart in the first place, can Sean forgive Franci for her deception, and can they find a way to be together in the future knowing full well that Sean is due to go back to his job in the Air Force soon, and could be posted anywhere in the world?

Another delicious Riordan brother.

Moonlight Road

Erin Foley is the sister of Marcie who we met in Virgin River Christmas. She has been the rock for her brother and sisters for many years, all the while studying towards a career in law. She is a very successful lawyer, but she needs a break, and so she heads to the cabin in Virgin River that belonged to Ian Buchanan, after a significant upgrade of course. Erin is not the kind of girl who enjoys roughing it. She meets Aiden Riordan when he scares her due to his shaggy, mountain man appearance, but once they learn to trust each other there is definitely a strong attraction.

There are a few things that could stand in their way though. They are very different people, and Aiden comes with a history in the form of his crazy ex wife.

Midnight Confession (from the Midnight Kiss anthology)

Jack is throwing his first ever New Year's Bash at Jack's Bar. Amongst the crowd are two lonely hearts. Drew (brother of Erin and Marcie) has come to Virgin River to study in the peace and quiet of the cabin. Sunny has come to visit her uncle Nate, still nursing the humiliation of being jilted at the alter a year before.

This story didn't work for me as well as a lot of the others as there was too much baggage to really be explored without sounding maudlin, and too many other characters showing up in the narrative. The novella felt crowded and rushed.

Promise Canyon

I was very excited when I read the set up for this novel. Both the hero and heroine are Native American and I was interested to see where Carr would take their storyline. Unfortunately it didn't live up to my expectations.

Clay Tahoma is a well known horse whisperer type. He has spent the last few years with his now ex wife in LA, but he is ready to get back to his roots with a much less glamourous and stressful lifestyle by working as an assistant to the town vet. Everyone in town has made him feel very welcome, except for Lily Yahzi who has sworn off good looking native men after having been burned when she was a very young woman.

Wild Man Creek

Yay, another Riordan brother.

Colin has come to Virgin River to recuperate from horrific injuries sustained in a helicopter crash. He loves his family, but he feels suffocated by them. What brings him joy is his art. The area around Virgin River provides him with lots of inspiration, and the solitude is refreshing.

When he meets Jillian Matlock, he knows he is attracted but he does not want to be tied to anyone or any place. Jillian has just bought an old house with a view to renovating. Other than that she doesn't know what she wants. She was a high flying PR exec who got burned as a result of an unwise affair, and she now really needs to find out what it is that she wants to do with her life.

Harvest Moon 

Phew! Made it to the end.

Kelly Matlock is a chef in a famous restaurant. She is driven and passionate, but when she collapses at work she knows she needs to make some changes. She comes to Virgin River to stay with her sister, and to work out what to do next, knowing that she can't go back to the restaurant she left.

She meets Leif Holbrook in town and is interested, but Leif is dealing with his rebellious young stepdaughter. She has been acting out for a while now, after the death of her mother and rejection by her real father, but Lief is losing hope that he will ever be able to break through the rebelliousness to find the daughter that he used to know.

If Lief lets Kelly into his life, will Courtney find even more reason to break away from him?

Bring Me Home for Christmas

When Denny Cutler shipped out for his second tour of duty, he left behind an ex girlfriend that he had broken up with more as a reaction to a number of emotional factors rather than the fact that he didn't love her anymore. Becca Fitzpatrick had tried to move on to a new relationship with a much more socially suitable man (in her mother's eyes at least) but she couldn't get Denny out of her head.

Denny is still friends with Becca's brother Rich, so she invites herself along on a boy's weekend to Virgin River in the hope that she could get some closure in relation to Denny, which obviously doesn't necessarily work! When she injures herself she is forced to spend an extended period of time in the town, and in close proximity to Denny.

I liked this one a lot, but it did take a long time to work through the back story their original relationship (how they met, how in love they were and why exactly they broke up).

Hidden Summit

Connor Danson witnessed a shocking crime and as a result is in a kind  of witness protection program. He has been placed in small town Virgin River where he gets a job with Haggerty Construction. He is happy to work hard, keep a low profile until the trial is over and then he can be reunited with his sister, Katie, and her kids who he misses desperately.

Leslie Petrusco is also new to town having transferred to Virgin River to becomes the office manager at Haggerty Construction's Virgin River branch. She is after a new start too, and a life away from her sleaze ball ex-husband who is now parading his pregnant new wife in their home town.

Connor and Leslie have both been hurt by love in the past, so they are happy to keep things casual, but sometimes life has other plans.

Aside from a few small issues, like the fact that Connor's new identity is to merely change his name around (his real name being Danson Connor), this was another satisfying entry in the series. It was great to see Brie Valenzuela gets some page time too!

Redwood Bend

Katie Malone has a lot to deal with over the years. Her husband was killed in combat, her brother Connor witnessed a violent crime and as a result moved Virgin River and she moved as far away from Sacramento as she could to ensure that both her two boys and herself were safe. But the move to Vermont hadn't quite worked out as planned and after a brief and unfulfilling romance, she is heading to Virgin River to see her big brother and his new love Leslie.

When she breaks down on the mountain side roads, she is at the end of her tether. The kids are tired and hungry, she is tired and hungry and she can't change the flat tire. When a group of bikers stop on the way to help her she is initially scared but then very grateful.

Dylan Childress and his buddies are on the biker holiday of his dreams. Good company, riding their motorbikes and the open road are all he has in mind, but when he meets Katie he is immediately attracted to her, and she to him. It is difficult not be for her. After all, he is a former teenage TV heartthrob but he has been out of the limelight for a while now. Now he runs a charter plane business but the economic downturn is really biting and he is looking at what his next options might be.

Both Katie and Dylan are up for a fling, but for different reasons. For Dylan, his past is a litany of broken relationships. His parents have both been married numerous times and there are half siblings and step siblings, some of whom are only interested in what Dylan can do for them. He also knows what it was like to have various men floating in and out of his life when he was a kid and he is determined not to do that to Katie and her kids.

Sunrise Point

Nora Crane has always had to fight hard just to survive. A tough childhood, a romance with a drug addicted loser who dumps Nora and her two kids in a dump of a house in Virgin River before he skips town. What Nora needs is a chance - a chance to hold down a job and to prove that she can support herself and her children and do a great job of it.

When she applies for a job at Tom Cavanaugh's orchard, he is extremely doubtful at her ability to do the physically taxing work, and really is only convinced to take her on by his grandmother who recognises her situation. Nora is determined to take this chance and prove him wrong even if that means having to work to each day and leave her kids in the hands of her new found friends and neighbours.

Tom is a former serviceman who has returned home to Virgin River after a long time away and has taken over the orchards that his grandmother has capably run for years. He knows that in order to keep a family run business in the family you need ... well... family so he has decided that it is time for him to marry. He has a woman in mind, and it most certainly isn't a single mother with a bad past like Nora Crane. Now if only he could get her out of his head.

Nora was a really good Virgin River heroine. Yes, she had a past, but she was trying her best to put her past behind her and to make a good future for herself and her kids in a town that she is beginning to love. Tom was a bit of an idiot at first, particularly in relation to the woman who he was dating and some of his reactions to Nora  but he came round in the end.

My Kind of Christmas

After some time away from the main families in Virgin River, the focus swings firmly back on them in this book.

Jack Sheridan was the first Virgin River hero and there has not been a book since where he hasn't made an appearance, usually as a pillar of the small community that he is at the heart at. When his niece Angie LeCroix comes to stay for the holidays, she just wants a chance to decide what she wants to do with her life. Everything has always been very clear to her - study hard and become a doctor - but after being involved in a serious car accident which nearly killed her things are not quite as clear cut as they used to be. However her overbearing mother can't accept that just because Angie is less driven than she used to be that it doesn't mean that she is not still suffering mentally from the trauma of the accident.

Patrick Riordan (the last remaining single yummy Riordan brother) is also in Virgin River trying to clear his head. He is on an extended period of leave from the Navy after his best friend Jake was killed in combat and he needs to decide if he is happy to go back to the Navy of if it is time for him to move on. He is also very much conscious of a responsibility to his friend's widow, Marie and her small child. He has promised that he will visit them for Christmas and so he is only in Virgin River for a short time and then, well let's just say he has a very odd idea of what it means to look after his friend's widow.

When Patrick and Angie meet and it becomes obvious that there is something between them, Jack does his best to warn her away from him. He is too rough around the edges, he is too much a warrior, too old for her....too everything really. For Angie though, he is someone who seems to see her for who she is and is accepting of the questions that she is asking of herself. Part of the charm of these books is the humour and depth that Carr manages to inject around serious subjects. For example, at one stage Jack tries to warn Angie away from Patrick by saying he has PTSD and Angie looks at him and basically say 'so do I. Did you think only vets could have it?'  (paraphrasing of course!)

With both the whole Sheridan clan sticking their noses in and the Riordan brothers as well, there are plenty of people to tell Patrick and Angie what they should and shouldn't be doing, but when it comes down to it these two need to decide what it is that they want out of life, and whether they can do that together. And their strong family groups are there to interfere and support them every step of the way.

One thing I did like is that whilst there are definitely patterns of behaviour for her characters throughout the series (like the fact that there are so many ex servicemen, so many people who are just in town for a short time, people only making it so far out of town before they have to come back to declare their true and forever lasting love etc) Carr recognises that and even at one point in this book even has the other characters placing bets on one of these aspects.


  1. I'm a big fan of this series, too, although the last book I read in it was PROMISE CANYON, so I've still got a ways to go. I also enjoyed the Grace Valley trilogy. Carr's other books haven't charmed me as much as these two series. Glad I'm not the only fan out there!

    1. I did enjoy Grace Valley too. It's the books after it that I haven't connected with as much!

  2. look at all those pretty covers. i have read robyn's work before and enjoyed it
    sherry @ fundinmental