Monday, July 23, 2007

Well, Dang!

My precious boxes o' books weren't here when I got home. So instead of a list of them which will make everyone turn green with envy, I'm doing a review - or a series of reviews - I'm not sure exactly what it is.

I haven’t managed to read a book since I got back from Dallas. I started one, but it wasn’t working so I started another one last night and the light bulb struck. I was trying to read a paranormal when I was in the mood for a western!

But I did read a few books before I left for Dallas and was in the midst of one while there.

First off, I don’t think these books can be read out of order. In order to understand and appreciate each one, you need to have read the preceding one. It’s not often I say this and I’m constantly reading series out of order and it never bothers me, but this is more of a story arc that starts in Virgin River and continues through to Whispering Rock.

Title: Virgin River

Blurb: 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.

Level of Steam: Pretty Hot

My Thoughts: I really liked this one. It was the only one in the series I bought at the time and it wasn’t long before I picked up the second two.

Although I did find a few things odd, for example I don’t think the writer did transitions very well – see – I did learn something in my writing classes, still the characters really seemed to come to life.

Jack at first seemed like a very laid-back almost beta type hero. But it wasn’t long before we discover that in his case still waters run deep. He was patient with the heroine, Mel, and let her work through her grief.

This book was rather close to my heart, in being able to identify with the heroine. I thought she was well done too. I also thought the author did a good thing in not demonizing her husband. He really was a good man and that was refreshing.

Grade: 4 out of 5

Title: Shelter Mountain

Blurb: Shelter Mountain continues the story introduced in the author's [Virgin River], and introduces Paige, who, after fleeing her battering husband, arrives at Jack's bar in the midst of a downpour with her three-year-old son, Christopher. Preacher, big and scary looking, shows his tender and nurturing side as he and others protect Paige from her drug-crazed husband.

Level of Steam: Again nice and steamy

My Thoughts: I thought this was another good book. I read this series back to back to back with no books in between and the second story was just a natural extension of the first book. I enjoyed Preacher and Melinda's story. I did have a few reservations though about a secondary story that was going along with it. I just couldn’t buy into the young teenager Rick’s story-line. He just seemed to good to be true and I may be wrong but somehow he seemed to age just a tad too quick and it drew me out of the story. Maybe part of it was because we didn’t see a POV from his young love, but this just didn’t work for me. But I did enjoy seeing John and Mel again and they were an integral part of the story.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

Title: Whispering Rock

Blurb: In Carr's third Virgin River novel, Mike Valenzuela is on his way to visit family in L.A. when he learns that Brie, Jack Sheridan's youngest sister, has been raped and beaten by the defendant in a high-profile rape case she had unsuccessfully prosecuted. Mel, Virgin River's midwife, begins to suspect that a serial date rapist is preying on the girls of the community after plying them with drink and drugs, and soon Mike is on the case as Virgin River's constable.

Level of Steam: Not as steamy as the first two

My Thoughts: I don’t know if it was because I read them all together or not, but I had a lot of issues with this one. There wasn’t nearly enough time spent with the two main characters. Instead the story jumped here, there and everywhere - all over the place with way to many characters set up as sequel bait. In addition, we also had another young teenager in love and I had even more issues this time. The dialogue he had just didn’t work at all. Being the mother of two young men myself, I found myself rolling my eyes at many of the lines.

By the time I came to the end of this one, I was real ready to move onto something else where the men weren’t so perfect and the heroines weren’t all so wounded one way or another.

Grade: 2.5 out of 5

Series overall: I took the 3 grades, added and then divided by 3. See - I still remember a bit of public school math. The final grade: 3.333333 (and so on)

For those who like Catherine Anderson, these will probably work very well. They are Catherine Andersonish without the overabundance of sweetness.

I liked them, I’m glad I read them, but they aren’t keepers for me, although I can see the appeal for others.

I’m just too jaded I think to buy into this almost perfect Utopia that is Virgin River.

'til later


CindyS said...

I'm glad you wrote these up. I am currently reading Whispering Rock without having read the other books. The good news is that I'm not feeling overwhelmed but I have been wondering about the focus of the story. I know Mike and Brie are the H/H but there are many parts where these two aren't even present! I'm thinking I can call my slump over because the story is keeping me reading (I do like stories of women over coming rape and the men who fall in love with them). All the same, I may still be reading it on Friday ;)

Good news is this one isn't the best and it's working for the most part so I think I will enjoy the other two in the series.


Margaret said...

..........I’m just too jaded I think to buy into this almost perfect Utopia that is Virgin River................

By the 3rd book this really bothered me too.

And my grades mirror yours.

Hope your books arrive soon.

Kristie (J) said...

Cindy: I'm glad it's working for you. I'm not sure if it's because I read them all so close together or what. But then I don't like books where different stories jump all over the place at the best of times. This happened in the first two books but just a tad. It seemed overwhelming by the third one.

Margaret: I hope the books get here soon too! I'm starting to forget what some of them are!
And too much perfection get's to me after a while. I like edgy and these ones aren't that. Still, I liked them well enough and can see why they are so popular. But I don't think this author is right for me.

nath said...

Hey Kristie :D sorry you didn't enjoy the series as much as I did :D I guess yeah, it's pretty "perfect" at the end of the series... but you need some books like that sometimes :D hey, do you have Down by the River by Robyn Carr in your library? :P

Kristie (J) said...

Nath: nope - don't have that one. I'd never read Robyn Carr until this series. And like I said - I quite liked the first two. The third one may have suffered from twomanytoosoonitis.