Shelter Mountain, by Robyn Carr

>> Wednesday, August 12, 2009

TITLE: Shelter Mountain
AUTHOR: Robyn Carr

PAGES: 384

SETTING: Contemporary rural California
TYPE: Straight romance
SERIES: Second in the Virgin River series (see review of the first here).

REASON FOR READING: I loved the first one.

For the second time in a year a woman arrives in the small town of Virgin River trying to escape the past

John "Preacher" Middleton is about to close the bar when a young woman and her three-year-old son come in out of a wet October night. A marine who has seen his share of pain, Preacher knows a crisis when he sees one—the woman is covered in bruises. He wants to protect them, and he wants to punish whoever did this to her, but he knows immediately that this inclination to protect is something much more. Paige Lassiter has stirred up emotions in this gentle giant of a man—emotions that he has never allowed himself to feel.

But when Paige's ex-husband turns up in Virgin River, Preacher knows his own future hangs in the balance. And if there's one thing in the marines' motto of Semper Fidelis—always faithful—has taught him, it's that some things are worth fighting for.
John Middleton is a former Marine, now running a bar in the town of Virgin River. Nicknamed "Preacher" for his ascetic behaviour, he's a scary looking man who's actually a sweetie underneath the brawn, and is shy and retiring with women.

Paige Lassiter is running away from her husband, after years of abuse. She's got her young son with her, and on the way to a safe house, she needs to make a stop after the weather turns nasty. As luck would have it, she decides to make that stop in Virgin River, and the only thing she finds still open is Preacher's bar.

After her experiences with her husband, Paige has become a bit nervous around men, and at first, Preacher scares her. She has no choice but to accept his help, though, and she soon begins to realise that this is a wonderful man, as different from her husband as a man could possibly be.

Their romance is a very sweet one. Paige soon flourishes in Virgin River, recovering from her abuse, and she starts developing feelings for Preacher. Preacher returns those feelings, in spades, but being quite inexperienced and possibly even more traumatised than Paige by what she suffered, he can't bring himself to do anything about them. So most of their relationship is about Paige positively seducing Preacher, and him being torn between wanting Paige like crazy, and not wanting to hurt her. The result is a romance that's surprisingly hot, as well as sweet.

Like Virgin River, the book is very much an ensemble piece, with the other townspeople as much the protagonists as Preacher and Paige. I thought this didn't work quite as well here as it did in the previous book (I wished for a bit less of Mel and Jack, the protagonists of Virgin River, as much as I liked them in their own story), but there's no denying that they're all interesting people, with interesting stories of their own.

MY GRADE: A very solid B.


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