Virgin River, by Robyn Carr

>> Thursday, August 06, 2009

TITLE: Virgin River
AUTHOR: Robyn Carr

PAGES: 416

SETTING: Contemporary California
TYPE: Straight romance
SERIES: First in the Virgin River series.

REASON FOR READING: It came highly recommended

Wanted: Midwife/nurse practitioner in Virgin River, population six hundred. Make a difference against the 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 reenergize 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.
I usually run far, far away from any book described as "heartwarming", as that tends to be codeword for sappy and saccharine. But since the person who originally recommended Robyn Carr's Virgin River trilogy and called it heartwarming has as much of an aversion to sap as I do, I thought I'd take the chance. Good thing I did, because these books are the real thing and gave me warm fuzzy feelings without making me want to retch.

Amazing, really, because the plot includes a woman leaving the big city for a small town and a baby left on a doorstep. The woman is midwife and nurse Melinda Monroe. Mel doesn't hate L.A., but she's been recently widowed and the type of cases she's been seeing in her job is getting to her, so doing something completely different and getting away for a while definitely appeals to her. An ad requesting someone to do exactly what she does, in a small town in rural California seems like a godsend.

On arriving to the town of Virgin River, however, Mel doesn't find quite what she expects. Getting to the cabin promised to her is a scary experience in bad weather, but not as scary as the dilapidation she finds when she arrives. And given that the local doctor is not at all welcoming, refusing to admit he needs any help, Mel quickly decides she'd better cut her losses and just go back.

And she means to do just that the next morning, right until she finds a baby in her porch. Feeling she has some responsibility to care for it doesn't mean she immediately changes her mind and decides to stay, but it does mean she needs to postpone her leaving. This gives Virgin River a chance to work its magic on Mel, and for Mel herself to work hers on the town -and on Jack Sheridan, the owner of the town bar.

This is not a fast-moving story, but it's one that kept me turning the pages. The things that happen might be low-key, but they're certainly not lacking in human drama. Surprisingly, I especially liked the baby storyline, finding out what the story was behind that.

The romance was lovely, but only one of those many storylines. In a way, this is a bit of an ensemble story, as much about Mel and Jack as about their relationships with all the other townspeople, and the townspeople relationships among themselves. That worked well, because I really liked the town of Virgin River. I think Carr strikes the perfect balance with it. It's a good place, with good people, but it's also a place with real-world, modern problems.



Anonymous,  30 September 2017 at 02:27  

Ah, Virgin River, where men are men ( and usually veterans), women are women, and everyone must weight 300 lb, judging by the way they eat.

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