Source: we received an e-ARC of the book through NetGalley for review purposes.
To me the Virgin River books are a bit like comfort food, you know what you are going to get, they make you feel good and you always come back for more. This is the 17th book in the series but Robyn has reinvented it by infusing it with new characters, which allows new readers to jump right in, even if you haven’t read the other books.
Hidden Summit is the story of Conner Danson. After an unfortunate event where he ended up the only witness of a murder he enters the witness protection program and the DA sends him to Virgin River to lay low while they wait for the trial to start. He has to leave everything behind, including his sister and twin nephews and get a new job working for Haggerty Construction. Needless to say he isn’t happy about it.
On the other hand we have Leslie Petruso. After a bitter and humiliating divorce where she was forced to make nice with his ex and his new pregnant wife, she decides that she’s had enough and moves to Virgin River to work for -you guessed it- Haggerty Construction, whose owner, Paul Haggerty, is the son of her boss and an old friend.
Conner is the first to notice Leslie but at first he thinks that she’s having an affair with Paul which he thinks is for the best because a romantic relationship would only complicate things even more. He feels strongly attracted to her and the feelings are mutual so they end up together. But their lives are anything but normal, Conner’s life is at risk, as well as everyone’s close to him, and Leslie’s ex is back to cause trouble, so they have a difficult road ahead of them.
I will be the first one to admit that at one point I considered quitting the series, but then we started getting new books that focused on new characters instead of the old ones. Is not that I didn’t like the original Virgin River cast, but it was getting old. For the past six or seven books things have been different in this town, and I’m very glad, not only because the new characters brought new life to the series, but also because it’s easier for new readers to get into the series without having to read the previous books. A series with 17+ books can be daunting for any reader.
Hidden Summit was interesting because the main focus of the book was the leading couple. The town and the secondary characters are part of it but they don’t overshadow Leslie and Connor’s journey and love story. I also liked the fact that they were adults that knew what they wanted, so despite having a somewhat short courtship the romance was believable.
Both Connor and Leslie were very likeable. I found a lot of similarities between them: they were family oriented, lonely, focused and hardworking people. It was almost a match made in heaven because they were perfect for each other.
The ending was very surprising. I think that a lot of people will have issues with it because in a way it was anti-climactic. I actually liked the fact that Ms. Carr didn’t go the predictable way, but I think the ending was rushed and almost too easy. This wasn’t a romantic suspense but if you’re going to add a touch of suspense to the plot at least make things more difficult for the characters.
There’s also the fact that Conner jumps right into the relationship despite numerous warnings from the people trying to protect him. He knows how dangerous it is to be close to him but yet he doesn’t have any qualms to pursue Leslie.
If you’re a fan of the series you will be happy to know that most of the beloved characters from previous books like Jack, Brie, Mel, Preacher, Mike and Paul have cameos and even secondary roles. So the touch of nostalgia is there but if you are a new reader you won’t find it confusing at all.
Overall this was a lovely book, with the familiar style of a great author and a strong addition to the series. A must read if you are a fan and a good place to start if you are new to Virgin River.
Review by Brie
Sick of running into her cheery ex-husband and his new wife, Leslie Petruso accepts a job at the Virgin River branch of Haggerty Construction and takes the high road right out of town. Now she's got Paul Haggerty's business running like a well-oiled machine. In fact, things are so busy Paul jumps at the chance to hire an extra set of hands.
Just like Leslie, Conner Danson has been burned by love. But if Leslie was disappointed by her relationship going bad, Conner was decimated. He's got no time for women…although he spends an awful lot of time pretending not to notice Leslie. And she's pretty busy "ignoring" the chemistry between them.
According to Conner and Leslie, they have only one thing in common—they're done with love. But everyone in Virgin River can see that things are heating up at Haggerty Construction. And as far as Paul Haggerty can tell, the best thing he can do is hang on to his hard hat and watch the sparks fly!
Hidden Summit by Robyn Carr
Mira. December 27, 2011.