Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Review: Virgin River

Title: Virgin River
Author: Robyn Carr
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Virgin River/Book 1
Published: April 2007

Contemporary Romance Challenge 2009

WANTED: Midwife/nurse practitioner in Virgin River, population six hundred. Make a difference against a backdrop of towering California redwoods and crystal-clear rivers. Rent-free cabin included.

When the recently widowed Melinda Monroe sees this ad she quickly decides that the remote mountain town of Virgin River might be the perfect place to escape her heartache, and to re-energize the nursing career she loves. But her high hopes are dashed within an hour of arriving: the cabin is a dump, the roads are treacherous and the local doctor wants nothing to do with her. Realizing she’s made a huge mistake, Mel decides to leave town the following morning.

But a tiny baby, abandoned on a front porch, changes her plans...and a former marine cements them into place.

Melinda Monroe may have come to Virgin River looking for escape, but instead she finds her home.

Why didn't you guys tell me how amazing this series is?! Oh, sure I heard comments like, "I really love this series" and "I can't wait to read the next Robyn Carr book". But no one actually said, "Leslie, stop being an idiot and read the darn series already". Can I just say how thankful I am to have finally dug into this series? I read the first three books in about a week. I love this little world that Carr has created. How many of you that have read it haven't at some point wished you could go to Virgin River? Maybe not to live but just to visit for a little while? Yeah, it's that type of place filled with those kind of characters. Notice I said characters. I do realize this is a fictional place but man, Carr really knows how to bring it to life.

I'll start with Melinda Monroe or Mel as she's called. She makes the choice of drastically changing her life after her life was drastically changed. Make sense? When Mel's husband was killed everything she took for granted was swept away. Her sense of safety and security was gone. She began to see danger around every corner. She gets to her breaking point and decides a big change is what she needs. That's how she ends up in Virgin River. When she gets there things are not as promised and Mel's ready to head out of town. She's delayed by a new patient and decides to stay for a few days. This gives a certain bartender time to convince Mel to stay for good.

Jack, Jack, Jack. I love Jack! Carr writes the male perspective with heaps of wit and loads of sinful sexiness. Jack has four sisters and it shows in his interactions with the women of the town. He's very nurturing and enjoys taking care of people. It like it's his mission in life to help those who need it. He's a former Marine and still maintains that air of command and the ability to get things done. Jack settled in Virgin River after leaving the Marine Corps and opened up a bar that also serves some of the best food around compliments of Preacher, one of Jack's Marines. The interactions between these men and the other men in town are such fun to read. It's like listening in to when my brothers and other male members in my family sit around talking about sports, current affairs, family etc.

Jack and Mel ~ there were times when I wondered how the heck Carr was going to get these two together and make it believable. Mel was still grieving the death of her husband and Jack had always enjoyed the company of women but not enough to settled down with one in particular. He still doesn't consider himself the marrying type but has a strong attraction to Mel so he wants her to stay. Not just for him but for this town that he's come to care deeply for. Mel loved her husband very much and it's a daily struggle for her to keep going. She focuses her attention on her work, it's what gives her a purpose in life.

The working environment Mel finds in Virgin River is vastly different from Los Angeles but she finds it's just as important and just as rewarding. Working in an E.R. in a large city like LA and working in a small town where many of the births are home births gives Mel a new perspective on her role as midwife. We get to see Mel become rejuvenated and begin to enjoy life once again. The change is slow to come and Jack certainly does some encouraging. While not exactly pressing Mel to stay he doesn't miss any opportunity to show her how much the town needs her and he eventually shows her how much he needs her.

Mel and Jack's relationship started out as friends and turned into a beautiful love story. There's not a thing I can't think of that I would change about it. When Jack and Mel are together the chemistry is so strong and so natural that everyone in town sees it. And when they are alone together they have a hard time resisting each other. I didn't mind some of the disagreements and difficulties they had. The difficulties played into the role of grieving widow and confirmed bachelor that Mel and Jack start out as.

The secondary characters are what make this book complete. Yes, I totally loved Jack and Mel's story but it wouldn't have been the same without the other residents of Virgin River. Preacher is the first to come to mind. Quiet and soft spoken, he's the gentle giant and an amazing cook. Then there's Rick who Jack and Preacher have taken under their wing. The interactions with these three showed a side of Jack and Preacher we might not have seen. Hope McCrea and Doc Mullins are the cranky old folks that you can't help but like even while they're irritating the heck out of everyone. All of the secondary characters were well written and had a purpose in the story line - no filler here. :)

Wonderful, amazingly beautiful story. I can't recommend this book enough. So if you're in the mood for a great contemporary read then look no further than Virgin River. Robyn Carr has also written another series as well as some stand alone novels. All books and author info can be found here.

Rating: A+


  1. LOL, the love for this series has just been plastered on almost every blog, Leslie!! :)

    So glad that you enjoyed it as well! :) It is a great place to escape, Virgin River :) Are you planning to give her Grace Valley trilogy a try?

  2. Leslie, Leslie, Leslie... you must NOT have been following the HUMONGOUS posts and conversations between "Nifty" and myself about this series, then... lolol! (Phade talk). Because, we BOTH just LURVED this series and went nuts posting for about a month... ;P

    I am so glad you loved it! Jack, yes JACK! And who the heck doesn't want to go to Virgin River? :)

  3. nath ~ I know. I kept seeing it mentioned so I finally gave in. :)

    I still have the next 4 in the VR series then I'll read the GV trilogy.

    Hils ~ I must have been in my "only PNR/UF" stage when you Nifty posted but I do remember reading those post. :)

    Road trip to Virgin River anyone?

  4. Okay, okay, you and also Kati (katidom) is wild about this book! Officially on my radar. I wonder if it's just that I never liked the title or something.

  5. I'm still not crazy about the title but I do love the book. :)

  6. Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes!! I wonder what took me so long to read this series too! I am only on the third one, so you are ahead of the curve - or at least me!

  7. Jill ~ Once I started it was hard to stop. I'm saving the others to space out through the rest of the year, maybe. :)

  8. Leslie, I'm pretty sure I said, at some point, GO READ THIS SERIES RIGHT NOW!" I'm almost positive, in fact. I think you just didn't want to listen. :P

    I'm very jealous of you getting to read it for the first time. If only I could go back..

  9. So it was your voice I heard screaming in my head to read this series. LOL