Get ready for another plot-twist book! Perfect and posh Emily and stay-at-home mom blogger Stephanie become best friends after their young sons form a bond at school. They drink wine and share secrets…but not every secret. It’s commonplace for Stephanie to watch Emily’s son at times, so when the phone call asking for a simple favor due to a work emergency comes in, nothing seems out of the ordinary. However, Emily doesn’t show up that evening to get her son, can’t be reached on her phone and no one knows where she is. Days pass and there is still no sign of Emily. Stephanie and Emily’s husband, Sean, begin to fear the worst. But things aren’t always as they seem…
Virgin River by Robyn Carr is the first book in a 21-book series with the same name. Melinda (Mel) Monroe is a nurse practitioner and midwife living in Los Angeles. Mel is ready to escape the stress of her job at a dangerous inner-city hospital and more importantly escape the pain of tragically losing her husband almost a year ago. Without so much of a thought, Mel accepts a job offer in Virgin River; population 600, beautiful, remote scenery, and housing included. Upon arriving in Virgin River, Mel realizes she may have jumped too quickly. The free housing is not the beautiful cabin she was promised, but one that is unlivable; and the local doctor does not welcome her help. Realizing this was a bad decision Mel plans to leave, but the pouring rain and muddy backroads keep her for one night. She plans to leave the following morning, but fate has other plans. A baby abandoned on the doorstep of Doc’s office causes Mel to stick around a little longer. The bar owner and former Marine, Jack Sheridan may be the one to make her stay.
Jack Sheridan came to Virgin River for some good fishing after retiring from the Marines and never left. He opened a bar where his friend Preacher is the cook. That first night Mel walks into the bar, soaking wet from the rain Jack immediately feels drawn to her and wants to do what he can to persuade Mel to stay. Quickly Jack becomes the rock Mel relies on while she struggles with her grief.
Virgin River is located in the middle of nowhere California. The closest hospital is a few hours away. There is a small town feel, but it is not picture perfect. While there are characters that are quirky, they are also flawed. There are groups of illegal pot growers that live in the woods and some people who are up to no good. This made the book feel more realistic. There are other smaller storylines throughout the book including a budding teenage love story between Ricky, the 16-year-old employee Jack has taken under his wing, and Lizzie, the promiscuous 14-year-old sent by her parents to stay with her aunt because she is out of control.
This is not a fast moving book. You get to know Mel and Jack, as well as a number of other residents of Virgin River. While this is a contemporary romance novel, it borders on a women’s fiction genre. You see the growth in Mel as a character. She finds herself on the other side of her grief, and finds love along the way. As a first book in a series, many characters are introduced and focused on in later books. This book discusses hard topics including death, infertility, and teen pregnancy.
Virgin River became a Netflix Original Series in 2019 and currently has three seasons and has been signed for two more. The Netflix series shows off the scenic area of Virgin River. Season one takes stories from the first two books in the Virgin River series: Virgin River and Shelter Mountain. Several characters take on bigger roles in the show. There is the addition of a character in the show who plays a big role in the show, who is only briefly introduced in book one. The show is very entertaining, but is much more like a soap opera/drama with a bit of romance than the other way around. As a romance novel, each book ends with some form of a happily ever after, whereas the show continues to build and build. Mel’s husband dies differently between the book and TV series. There are also differences between Mel’s personal fertility background and a bigger focus on the illegal pot growers and crime in the show compared to the early books in the series. I personally found this to be a bit too dramatic. Overall, it is a good TV series, but does differ quite a bit from the books. I recommend both the book and the TV series, but be aware that they do differ quite a bit.
Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd has fought in three wars, starting with the War of 1812 when he was just barely 16. Now, in 1870, he travels across Texas bringing the inhabitants news of distant places. He reads from newspapers from Philadelphia to India to London, and steers clear of politics as best he can.