Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Harlequin MIRA
Released on January 29, 2003
Source: Kindle First
After falling in love with the world of Virgin River and the small town crew of characters, I was eager to press forward into the next story in the series featuring the big, taciturn Preacher, and the special woman who would break through to his quiet, lonely heart.
Shelter Mountain is the second in the Virgin River series and, because of ongoing plot threads, works best in order.
John ‘Preacher’ Middleton is closing up the bar early one quiet stormy night when a bedraggled woman and her small child blow in out of the rain. He sees quickly that she bares the marks of abuse and the woman is wary and skittish. He knows that as a big man with a formidable face that he is the last person she will trust or calm down around, but he makes the effort because his tender, protective instincts fire up and he just wants her to feel safe. Her little boy isn’t feeling well and she looks exhausted. He gently coaxes and gets Paige to let him help a little and eventually to stay and share her troubles with him. Never being with women much, he is the last person to understand what is happening to him and between them. But, that said, he knows that beyond keeping her dangerous husband from hurting her that Paige won’t consider a guy like him.
Paige grew up in a home with a father and brother as bullies and abusers and a mom who took it as her due. Paige got out and then no sooner got herself married to a more sleek and manipulative abuser. She’s tried to get free of him and to painful results. This is her last chance. She just knows Wes will kill her. Getting lost and finding Virgin River and John Middleton seem like only the latest frustration until she learns that her luck is turned at last. Big, former Marine John is intimidating, but not to her and her son Chris adores him. She lets John talk her into staying for a while and rethinking her mad dash to run with Chris and what she should do to be safe for good. At first, she is too busy surviving and being frightened, but slowly she is learning to love a worthy man. If only he would love her back. The shy man doesn’t seem to want more than friendship and doesn’t seem to notice her efforts to show him her attraction.
Meanwhile, Jack and Mel are expecting their baby and figuring out how to juggle pregnancy and newly married life with all else they have going on. Rick learns a shocking and life-changing secret from Liv who is back in town. And, Jack’s sister, Brie, discovers that the love of her life has left her for someone else while Jack’s Marine buddy Mike has a violent encounter leading to a restart on life. But, all come running when Preacher and Paige need them most.
Shelter Mountain introduces a couple who I loved instantly. My heart was in their tender romance and I was really cheering for Paige to work through her past life of abuse and that they would get the threat of her husband Wes off them. And, he was a nasty bit of crud for sure. But, surprisingly, this was not just Preacher and Paige’s story. I had to adjust to Jack and Mel, Rick, Brie, and Mike getting significant chunks of the narration and story, too. So, I loved it all because I’m a fan of sagas and multiple story lines, but I did have to adjust since I didn’t realize this series did that.
Again, Virgin River as a rustic Northern California town shines and offers the right ambience for romance. I love the close friends and family-feel as everyone pulls together to help each other out even a total stranger who is in need like Paige. Mel’s mid-wifery and medical work is still a big element as is Jack’s connection to all his Marine buddies.
Preacher is a big teddy bear of a guy with a bittersweet backstory. He is the perfect reliable man of quiet strength for Paige. Paige has a lot to sort out and, in truth, probably sorts it quicker than an abuse survivor in real life would. Most of the angst and conflict is external for this pair. They took their time, but they were a steady pair and not a lot of fireworks even when they did finally get together. I enjoyed them and I can see already that the author doesn’t cookie cutter her romances since this pair are different from the first who are both different from the pair getting their story next.
All in all, I am falling more deeply into this series and definitely want to keep going. Those who love small town Contemporary Romance with a bit of spice should give these a go.
COYER Community #32 Stay in Your Lane RAT
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