As much as I enjoyed this instalment in the Virgin River series, the first four still remain my favourites. I just didn't care terribly much about She...moreAs much as I enjoyed this instalment in the Virgin River series, the first four still remain my favourites. I just didn't care terribly much about Shelby and Luke. Their relationship was mostly based on physical attraction and their conflict was pretty non-existent until near the end of the novel--and even then, it was based on a lack of communication, which is one of my least favourite relationship conflicts for a romance novel. And I'm sure this book had more than the usual three sex scenes that Carr usually churns out. I skipped forward so many times in this audiobook because I was getting bored of listening to sex scenes. I wanted more plot!
I enjoyed finding out about what the other members of the town were up to. The storyline about Vanni's dad and his movie star girlfriend is still one of my favourites, and the sub-plots about Doc and Art were also really interesting. The town is definitely starting to feel rather unrealistic--why do so many young, retired, single marines and army guys flock there, and why are all the women drop dead gorgeous?--but it is a fun location to read about.
The person I'm most looking forward to reading about is Camerone Michaels, the doctor who previously dated Vanni and has just moved to Virgin River. He wasn't in this book a lot, but I honestly found him more appealing than Luke. Finally, a hero who isn't an ex-serviceman! It's nice to see some variety. I hope he gets his own happy ending in a later book.
Although Shelby and Luke weren't the most compelling protagonists in this series, this was still a fun instalment, and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next in Virgin River. 3.5*(less)
Every time I read one of the Virgin River novels, I have to remind myself that I'm not reading a typical contemporary romance. In the case of this nov...moreEvery time I read one of the Virgin River novels, I have to remind myself that I'm not reading a typical contemporary romance. In the case of this novel, I was kind of glad that Vanni and Paul's story didn't encompass the entire novel. I felt a little weird reading about a romance between a woman who had just lost her husband, and her husband's best friend. I don't know if I could move on quite as quickly as Vannie did. Overall, I think Carr handled the issue of Vanni's deceased husband really well, and I felt like Paul and Vanni continued to honour him in their relationship. But it did take me a while to warm up to them, and there were some moments when I got annoyed at their stubbornness and lack of communication.
There were several secondary storylines going on, in addition to the main plot--Rick is being sent to Iraq, Vanni's father gets a love interest (probably my favourite subplot!), Mel and Jack are having a second child, Vanni's best friend has gone through a bad break-up and her little brother is going off to basic training after graduation, leaving behind his girlfriend. There are enough storylines that there's bound to be something to interest any romance reader.
As always, Carr's novels include a couple of detailed sex scenes, which are easier to skip over in an actual book rather than an audiobook. I think this book had two or three, which is pretty typical for this series.
I was going to rate this book a 3.5 because Paul and Vanni's romance isn't my favourite out of the books in the series that I've read so far, but I loved some of the subplots (especially the one about Vanni's father) and I just ate up the details about the town and the community. Maybe it's because I moved from the country to a city a couple of months ago, but I appreciated the small-town setting and community togetherness a lot more than usual. Virgin River is a little too perfect, but I still love it. 4*(less)
Devon McAllister has been a member of a closed, religious group living in a compound for nearly four years, but the community that once seemed so kind...moreDevon McAllister has been a member of a closed, religious group living in a compound for nearly four years, but the community that once seemed so kind and simple no longer seems quite so innocent. Not wanting to expose her three-year-old daughter to anything dangerous, Devon flees the compound one night, desperate to get as far away from the community as possible. She knows she’s taking a risk when an elderly man offers her a ride in his truck, but it ends up being the best choice she could have made. The old man, Rawley, has been down on his luck many times, and he can see that Devon is in need of help. Before she knows it, she’s settled in the small, coastal town of Thunder Point as Rawley’s “cousin” who has fled an abusive relationship. Little do the residents know that this story isn’t so far from the truth.
Spencer Lawson moved to Thunder Point so that he and his adoptive son, Austin, could be closer to Austin’s biological father, Cooper. Settling into his new job as athletic coach at the local high school and getting to know the locals are high on Spencer’s priority list, and he has no intentions of looking for love in Thunder Point. Spencer spent the last few years caring for his terminally ill wife, so starting a new relationship wouldn’t feel appropriate, even if his marriage wasn’t exactly typical towards the end. But he finds himself drawn to the newcomer, Devon, especially after he overhears her talking to Rawley about her escape from a nearby compound. He pitches in to help Devon decorate her new home and offers protection in case any of the men from the compound come after her.
Neither Devon or Spencer plan for their relationship to go beyond a platonic friendship, especially considering the difficult relationships they’ve both recently left behind. But Thunder Point has a habit of bringing unexpected people together...
By the time I got around to reading The Hero, there were already several reviews of the title on GoodReads, and I found myself scrolling through many comments and complaints while I was reading this novel. As such, I feel I should address some of the complaints I came across. This is not a conventional romance novel, so if you’re looking for a book which purely focuses on the hero and heroine and their journey to their happily ever after, you’re probably going to be disappointed. Just like the Virgin River series, the Thunder Point books focus on a much larger cast of characters than most romance novels, and they often revisit couples from previous books and let the reader know how their relationship is progressing. Personally, I like this. I’m a sucker for small-town stories and sometimes wish I could live somewhere like Thunder Point where all the neighbours help each other out. I also appreciate getting to see previous couple’s relationships. Sometimes what happens after the wedding can be a whole lot more interesting than what brought the hero and heroine together.
That said, the romance in The Hero took a long time to get started. I was nearly halfway through the book before I realised that Spencer was going to be Devon’s love interest, since I hadn’t looked at the synopsis before I started reading. For a long time, I honestly thought that Devon was going to be pared with Scott, the widowed doctor. It took me a while to warm up to Spencer, and I think this is because he didn’t seem to have a lot of motivation behind his desire to be friends with Devon, or any conflict keeping him from being happy. Robyn does chuck in a conflict for their relationship towards the end of the novel, but it seemed to almost come out of nowhere. I absolutely loved Devon’s character and wanted her to be happy, but at times Spencer just felt like a cardboard cut-out love interest. Even though he’d featured in the previous book, I just didn’t know enough about him to care about whether or not he got the girl.
Although it took me a while to warm up to the idea of Devon and Spencer as a couple, the book itself doesn’t have a slow start. I was immediately sucked into Devon’s conflict—her escape from the compound, her desire to protect her daughter, her reinvention and attempt to regain control of her life. Devon was a fascinating character, and it was interesting to read about someone who ended up in Thunder Point entirely by accident, rather than because they got a job offer or had family living there. Sometimes having dozens of new characters appear in a tiny town (like Thunder Point or Virgin River) can seem a little contrived, but Devon’s story worked. Another reviewer mentioned that Devon’s situation reminded her a little of Paige from Shelter Mountain, and I think she was on to something there. If you liked Paige, you’ll probably love Devon. It’s impossible not to care about Devon and her daughter, Mercy, and I was rooting for them to beat the odds all throughout the book.
While the last book in the series had a fairly large sub-plot about one of the local teenagers, the additional storylines in The Hero weren’t quite so prominent. We finally get to witness Cooper and Sarah’s wedding, and Cooper begins building a new home for them. Lou decides it’s time to leave Gina and Mac to their new life and moves in with her boyfriend. Scott feels a little sad that Devon is interested in Spencer rather than him (seriously, when is this guy going to get his own book?! He needs a little romance in his life). I think the biggest sub-plot is about Ashley’s dad deciding to move to Thunder Point to be closer to the daughter he only just discovered. There weren’t a lot of storylines left hanging at the end of this book, presumably because the next instalment doesn’t release until February 2014. Hopefully the time will speed by as I’m intrigued to read the next book, The Chance, which apparently focuses on one of Devon’s friends from the compound.
Although The Hero could have been improved with a stronger romance and better characterisation of, well, the “hero” of the story, it’s still a great addition to Robyn Carr’s Thunder Point series. Fans of Robyn Carr will pleased with this latest instalment, and most likely counting down the days until the fourth book is released.
Disclaimer: This is a mainstream romance and contains one sexual scene and a few instances of swearing.
I fairly zooming through my audiobooks now that we're living in Edinburgh and I'm doing a lot more walking and housework. Although this book is a litt...moreI fairly zooming through my audiobooks now that we're living in Edinburgh and I'm doing a lot more walking and housework. Although this book is a little shorter than the other Virgin River novels, I didn't expect to listen to this one in a mere ten days!
I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy a Christmas novel in August, but I didn't want to wait a few months before reading the next book in the Virgin River series. And having just finished this book, I'm glad I didn't put it off. Marcie and Ian were such wonderful, real and sympathetic characters that I think I nearly loved this book just as much as the first one in the series. This story is a bit of a whirlwind romance, but everything seemed to fall into place so perfectly considering the circumstances. Both their backstories were fascinating, and I especially appreciated Marcie's experience of caring for her wounded husband and how how service in the Marines impacted her life. Ian's gradual coming out of his shell and integration into the local community was heartwarming. This would definitely be a great, encouraging, feel-good romance for Christmas, but I got all warm and fuzzy reading it in summer too.
I don't think there was a lot that I didn't like about this book. There was the requisite sex scene that I fast-forwarded through, but otherwise this book was pretty clean, much more so than the previous Virgin River books. If I had to complain about anything, it would be that the ending felt a little rushed, and I wished Marcie had dealt with her issues with her sister. She seemed so controlled by her older sister, and although she talked to Ian and Mel about why Erin was so protective over her, Erin was still freaking out and giving orders to Marcie when she was heading home at the end of this book. Apparently Erin has a book of her own later in the series, so maybe the issues will be dealt with then, but their relationship definitely wasn't healthy. But then again, I'm just not a big fan of family members controlling each other, so maybe others won't be so bothered by this.
All in all, an excellent addition to the Virgin River series and a great feel-good read for Christmas, or any other time of year. 4.5*
Also, the narrator of all the Virgin River audiobooks--Therese Plummer--is fantastic. I definitely recommend her. (less)
This was a sweet reunion romance, and the "secret child" concept was handled realistically, rather than coming off as cheesy and contrived. It seems t...moreThis was a sweet reunion romance, and the "secret child" concept was handled realistically, rather than coming off as cheesy and contrived. It seems that there are other books set in Cypress Landing, so I'll have to be on the look out for them. The main drawbacks about this book were that Cade's mother had a dramatic personality change in a very short space of time (which didn't seem at all believable, given how she'd been known to behave) and the reasoning behind the drug-smuggling plot felt a bit contrived. The ending of the book was a little rushed, as well. The romance itself was excellent, it was just some of the additional aspects of the novel that didn't mesh properly. 3.5*(less)