This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Harlequin MIRA
Released on October 22, 2019
Several years ago, I read Bring Me Home For Christmas and was introduced to the world of Virgin River, a little community in the mountains of Northern California where the rugged terrain and people can be a challenge, but friendship and romance can flourish, too. I had every intention of going back and starting the series at the beginning, but got sidetracked. With the TV series adaption, I was reminded again that I wanted to read the books before seeing the show so I finally picked up book one to enjoy where it all began.
Virgin River opens with Melinda Monroe’s impractical car sliding into a ditch along a lonely mountain road in a rainstorm. She took the job sight unseen to be the midwife/nurse practitioner for a small community in Northern California as far as she can get from the big city emergency room where she once worked and the place where she was a widow and unable to heal from her husband’s death. But, one look at the dirty mountains, the horrific cabin, and the shabby little town has her cursing her impulsiveness and swearing she is out of there as fast as she can get.
But, the kindness of the bar owner, Jack Sheridan, fresh air, a good night’s sleep, the best food she’s had in a while, and a surprise bundle on the clinic’s doorstep followed by an emergency birthing has her softening toward the place and willing to give it a few days.
Jack has come to Virgin River for his own need for renewal after many long years in the Marines. He wants to fish, run his bar, and help his neighbors now and then. What he never thought he’d want is the beautiful and achingly sad, Melinda, to stick around and give him and Virgin River a chance. He wants it badly enough that he is willing to wait as long as it takes for her to get past what has her broken and sad and in the meantime fix up that dilapidated cabin she was given and showing her the best side of Virgin River while watching the city gal discover that this is no bucolic scene with no dangers and no challenges.
I was taken with the story right away. I grew up close enough to the settings in this story that I knew exactly how very different Virgin River was from Mel’s life back in LA. She gets quite the introduction and I had to laugh at it all. I fell in love with Jack long before she did, but I was on her side from the get-go. She was hurting so badly and I loved seeing her slowly heal as the community and the place slowly worked on her.
I was really into the description of Melinda’s midwifing work and her work with old Doc in the clinic and out in the rural areas around the community. They had to make do with what they had away from the conveniences in health care and other community services that a big city could offer. It was neat that since the author introduced her career into the story that Mel’s career got a lot of page time and there were several conflicts and exciting moments with it.
The friendships Melinda made had me feeling like they were my own new and lovely friends. I loved getting to know the people and the setting. I forgot how much the author could pull the reader inside the story that way.
But, best of all, was the gently-paced friendship and romance between Mel and Jack. The chemistry is there early on even when she is absolutely convinced she is dead inside. She is truly a grieving widow to a guy who was pretty special and the author doesn’t cut corners on that nor does she rush Mel’s grief recovery. Jack had to be oh so patient and understanding. It was hard on him and particularly when Mel kept her past to herself at first and he only had her emotional walls to go by. He was selfless and his actions showed his love so she couldn’t help falling in love with him particularly as she got interested in Jack’s past that she learned from meeting his friends and his family down in Sacramento.
Most of the book felt like the first in a series with the careful set up and introductions, but it didn’t lack for conflict and riveting moments throughout. It had a pretty heart-stopping climax in the end after some big relationship moments that were the perfect finish to an already fabulous book.
All in all, I was pulled inside a sensational story and world that I was reluctant to leave. I’m so glad there are plenty more books in the series and oh so many wonderful characters that I can’t wait to get their stories. Those who enjoy heartwarming yet spicy romance, an amazing setting and cast of characters in a small town contemporary romance need look no further.
I rec’d this book from Net Galley to read in exchange for an honest review.
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