Source: we received an e-ARC of the book through NetGalley for review purposes.
Warning: the review contains a spoiler, it’s hidden, but I'm making sure you know about it now in case you prefer to skip the review.
One of my favorite books by Robyn Carr is A Summer in Sonoma. It’s one of her standalone books and if you haven’t read it you should because it’s wonderful. When I found out that Walt, the hero of that book, had a cameo in this book (he also makes a cameo in the previous book, Hidden Summit) I was a happy camper.
Katie Malone is a single mother of 5-year-old twins. Her husband died in war when she was pregnant and she’s been alone ever since. Months ago, tragedy struck again when her brother became the main witness of a murder and had to go into hiding. That ended up well with him moving to a small town called Virgin River and finding love, but Katie’s life was a bit of a mess. When she finally allowed herself to date and maybe find love, the guy she was dating turned out to be gay. Now she’s trying to start again but first she’s taking her boys for a little road trip and to visit their uncle.
Halfway through Virgin River, and in the middle of a storm, she has a flat tire. A motorcycle gang, or at least what she first thinks is one, stops to help her. One of the bikers is Dylan Childress, famous actor and former teenage heartthrob. He’s been out of the spotlight for a while now but she recognizes him immediately. They are both staying in Virgin River for a short time and since they feel strongly attracted to each other they decide to have a fling, a very hot and heavy fling. He is very clear about the nature of their relationship because he is weary of commitment and also because he thinks himself incapable of love due to his dysfunctional family and difficult past. Also, his business is struggling and he doesn’t have the time or the resources to be in a committed relationship. So things go well until Katie begins to fall for him and he has to leave to real life with a business nearing bankruptcy and his draining and annoying family. Will they be able to make it work? They have a difficult road ahead of them and life has a couple of surprises in store.
Redwood Bend is the 18th book in the Virgin River series, the 18th! At this point in any other series I would be ready to quit, but Ms. Carr has managed to keep it fresh by adding new characters that in no way relate to the original books, thus infusing it with new blood, and making it possible for new readers to jump right in without having to go back and read the rest of the book. I think reading the previous book helps, but these new trilogies stand alone quite well and everyone should be able to enjoy them.
I have mixed feelings about this book. I loved the hero, it’s one of the best she’s written, I think his life experiences clearly shaped the man he was today and it was obvious that he was a responsible, honest and hardworking guy. Yes, he suffers from the same commitment phobia that ails most romance heroes, but he makes up for it by being so mature in the other aspects of his life. His business is hurting, victim of the economy, and Ms. Carr doesn’t sugarcoat it. There are no miraculous cures for this and he is thinking about sacrifice and how to deal with the hard times throughout the whole book.
The heroine was a good person, a devoted mother but not a perfect one. Her kids were a handful and she was able to acknowledge that, as much as she loved them, they could be too much to handle at times. That’s pretty much the only thing I liked about her, though, and she is the reason why I have mixed feelings about the book. I’m tired of heroines embarking on relationships they can’t handle. Why have a no-strings-attached affair with someone who’s leaving in days, when all you want is a husband!? Two answers to that: 1. You don’t know yourself well enough to know what you want, and are unable to make intelligent decisions; or 2. You’re an idiot. Actually, there’s a third answer that applies to this heroine, 3. No self-awareness whatsoever and complete idiocy. But wait, this isn’t the most infuriating thing about her, nope, up until that point I was happy enough to let this pass, however, when I got to the next part I was ready to DNF the book. This is a spoiler so look away if you don’t want to know: SPOILER she gets pregnant (surprise!) and she doesn’t tell the hero. He leaves before she finds out, because that was his plan all along, he was temporarily in Virgin River, he had to go back home -hence the no-strings-attached sex with the expiration date-. She knew it and still was hurt when he left, she felt abandoned, and when she finds about the pregnancy she decides to not tell him. Why? Go read the “idiot” part I mentioned before to get the answer. This is the same woman who lost his husband before he got to know his sons, the same woman who wishes her sons had a father. But now that she actually has a baby daddy, she won’t tell him?! Book meet wall. He wasn’t a bad guy, she had no excuse not to tell him. Maybe he didn’t want a baby, but at least give him the news so he can decide for himself if he wants to be a dad or not. This angered me so much that afterwards the book was lost to me. END OF SPOILER
So there you have it. Loved the hero, loved revisiting the town, hated the heroine. The only reason I’m giving the book a 2.5 is because the hero was awesome. If you’re a fan of the series this is a must read, I know I would read it even after knowing that I wouldn’t like the heroine. If you’re not a fan of the series and want to give it a try, this is not the right book to start with.
Review by Brie
Katie Malone and her twin boys' trip along the beautiful mountain roads to Virgin River is stopped short by a tire as flat as her failed romance. To make matters worse, the rain has set in, the boys are hungry and Katie is having trouble putting on a spare. As she stands at the side of the road pondering her next move, she hears a distinct rumble. The sight of the sexy, leather-clad bikers who pull up beside her puts her imagination into overdrive.
Dylan Childress and his buddies are on the motorcycle trip of a lifetime. But the sight of a woman in distress stops them in their tracks. And while the guys are checking out her car, she and Dylan are checking out one another.
In one brief moment, the world tilts on its axis and any previous plans Katie and Dylan might have had for their futures are left at the side of the road.
Mira. February 28, 2012.