Welcome to the twenty-seventh day of my Almost Heaven West Virginia Blog Bash.

Since I’m going to be talking about  Robyn Carr’s Virgin River, a small fictional town from my neck of the woods in Northern Calif. I thought I’d show more pictures of Denny’s hometown Elizabeth ,WV pop 994 as of the 2000 census.

                        Then of course there are all kinds of hero’s here.       My husband’s cousin Jess, she is such a sweet girl. Here she is hugging Denny goodbye, she and her sister Brandy used to gang on Denny when they were little and beat on him.

  I wanted to include Jess today because if you’ve read the Virgin River series or heard of them they have military men returning from war, some needing that hometown healing. And for those curious out there Jess is really truly a sweetheart and she is s down to earth small town girl, she’s doing  well, really well and if you met her you would love her.     

Welcome to all my followers and visitors, I am having a month-long celebration in my husbands honor. My husband Denny is retiring from the Navy after serving for 24 years. We are packing up one last time and moving back to his home state of Wild Wonderful West Virginia. Each post will start off with a picture to showcase West Virginia.  Everyday their will be a prize up for grabs and at the end we’ll be giving away some chocolate.

Please follow the rules posted at the end of each post to enter the daily contests and remember you don’t have to subscribe to win but I hope you decide to stick around. Also any post that contain super erotic material will carry the warning label so as not to shock or offend anyone upon opening.

Now that Robyn Carr has earned the #1 slot on the New York Times list, the creator of the wildly popular Virgin Riverseries laughs when someone refers to her as an overnight success.

“The truth is, I was first published in 1978, and it took me thirty years to make it to The New York TimesBestseller List,” she pointed out.

But once Robyn became that popular, she stayed that popular. And, when Bring Me Home for Christmas, the 16th Virgin River novel, was released in November 2011, it debuted in the #1 slot not just on The New York Times roster, but also on the Barnes and Noble, and Publishers Weeklylists as well.

Clearly, Robyn’s series about men of honor who build a town in northern California’s redwood forests for the women they love has launched her into the publishing stratosphere and earned her a broad and loyal following. The first book in the series, Virgin River, was published in 2007. The next year Robyn got the call from her editor that A Virgin River Christmas had landed on the Timeslist.

After thirty years of hard work, life was suddenly very, very good for the Las Vegas author who began writing when her two children were babies.

Those who try to explain Robyn’s “sudden” success might say it was because she was on the leading edge of a trend toward small-town romances. The truth is, Robyn’s Virgin River series, like her earlier Grace Valley books, are a blend of romance and women’s fiction—books that not only entertain but also address sensitive issues, such as domestic violence, health risks and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anything that can compromise a woman’s happiness because she’s female.. And there’s no denying that Robyn has a way with words. Her voice is unique and takes her readers into the hearts and minds of the brave men and women who have served in the military and into the hearts of the families left behind, families like hers.

Surprisingly, Robyn didn’t always know she wanted to be a writer. She had planned to become a nurse. She married her high school sweetheart four weeks before he left for Air Force Officer’s Training School at the peak of the Vietnam War. Because she found herself following Jim from base to base, Robyn never had a chance to pursue nursing. Her husband worked long hours and often traveled. To pass the time Robyn read. When doctors instructed her to stay down and keep her feet up during a complicated pregnancy, her neighbor began bringing her ten paperbacks a week.

“I was reading more than one a day. Nothing short of labor pains could snap me out of it,” Robyn said.

Since the books she’d been devouring were by Anya Seton, Kathleen Woodiweiss and Rosemary Hawley Jarmen, Robyn says it only made sense that her first efforts to write were in the historical romance genre as well.

There was no training program available at the time for writing romance. At the first writers’ conference Robyn attended—back in 1976—a novelist who wrote in a different genre critiqued Robyn’s third manuscript and suggested she go home and find something to do for which she had talent.

That same manuscript was published in hardcover two years later as Chelynne, a novel which Robyn recently reissued as an e-book. Her second manuscript was eventually published as well. But Robyn says her first was simply a tool for learning and will remain buried and “Never be seen by human eyes.”

Robyn has always written about strong women, no matter the period in which they lived. For the first fifteen years of her career she wrote romance, the early books of which were all historical, but later included contemporaries. Needing a change, she branched out and wrote a thriller, which she said she’ll never do again because, for her, it was too creepy. She also tried her hand at non-fiction and what she smilingly describes as “several brilliant but as yet unsold screenplays,” in addition to articles and short stories.

“I jumped all over the place, not really aware that I was working on reinventing myself and redesigning my craft,” she says. “I began to develop my own brand of women’s fiction, a style that most closely resembles my take on life. I want to laugh through a book, but I don’t want a book that’s a big laugh. As a reader I want to have a genuinely good time, but I don’t want the book to be a joke. I want real women’s issues, real humor and teeth in the story.”

She says that reading is important because people need a safe place to deal with the emotions they’re stuck with, and a book is a safe place to do that. She believes there’s great value in her novels dealing with real issues in a realistic manner.

Perhaps as important a character as any of the people in her books, Virgin River—a fictional town in a real part of California—is a location that Robyn describes as a brave and adventurous spot.

“It’s not a cute and easy place to live,” Robyn explained. “It calls on my characters’ deepest sense of adventure to live there.”

Asked if she’d enjoy living in Virgin River, Robyn’s quick to say that even if it were a real spot, she’d never move there.

“I have an overwhelming need to live in a place where I can get my eyebrows waxed,” she explains. “But I love to write about it, and the rugged, remote Humboldt County of northern California is a great place to visit.”

Fortunately for Robyn and her many fans, she spent much of 2011 doing what she loves best, writing. As a result, her 2012 publishing schedule includes a new Virgin River trilogy—Hidden Summit (January), Redwood Bend (March) and Sunrise Point (May), as well as a Virgin River Christmas story, My Kind of Christmas(November).

As a one-time military wife (Jim eventually left the Air Force for a career in the aviation industry but is retired today), Robyn is strongly drawn to issues and causes that honor our men and women who serve—and their families. As a result, in late 2011 her publishing house, MIRA Books, sponsored a contest that allowed military families to write in and share their personal homecoming stories.

“So many have waited at the military base or post, at the airport or bus depot, and know first hand how slowly those seconds tick by as they wait to bring their heroes home,” Robyn says.

Robyn plans to find additional ways to support military members and their families in the months and years to come.

Robyn and her husband enjoy traveling, often taking research trips together. Their son and daughter are grown. Robyn says that, in addition to reading her novels and making snide remarks about how she’s used family scenarios to her advantage, they have made her a happy grandmother.

Virgin River:    

WANTED: Midwife/nurse practitioner in Virgin River, population six hundred. Make a difference against a 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 re-energize 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.

For the second time in a year a woman arrives in the small town of Virgin River trying to escape the past.

John “Preacher” Middleton is about to close the bar when a young woman and her three-year-old son come in out of a wet October night. A marine who has seen his share of pain, Preacher knows a crisis when he sees one—the woman is covered in bruises. He wants to protect them, and he wants to punish whoever did this to her, but he knows immediately that this inclination to protect is something much more. Paige Lassiter has stirred up emotions in this gentle giant of a man—emotions that he has never allowed himself to feel.

But when Paige’s ex-husband turns up in Virgin River, Preacher knows his own future hangs in the balance. And if there’s one thing in the marines’ motto of Semper Fidelis—always faithful—has taught him, it’s that some things are worth fighting for.

The tightly knit community of Virgin River has been a safe haven for more than a few lost souls over the years—and there’s always room for one more…

A decorated U.S. Marine reservist, LAPD officer Mike Valenzuela was badly wounded in the line of duty, but has found hope and healing in Virgin River. When he agrees to become the town’s first cop, he does so knowing it’s time he settled down. Twice divorced and the lover of too many women, he secretly longs for the kind of commitment and happiness his marine buddies have found—a woman who can tie up his heart forever. He finds that woman in Brie Sheridan, a Sacramento prosecutor who understands his drive to protect and serve. Virgin River becomes a safe haven for Brie after nearly losing her life at the hands of a crazed criminal. Though tough and courageous, she’s got some fears she can’t escape—but now she has someone who will shower her just what it means to trust again.

Mike will do anything to help Brie free herself from painful memories. Passionate, strong and gentle, he vows to give back to her what she’s so selflessly given him—her heart, and with it, a new beginning.

   I loved this story and I cried when Ian started singing at the tree lighting.

Last Christmas, Marcie Sullivan said a final goodbye to her husband Bobby. This Christmas she’s come to Virgin River to find the man who saved his life and gave her three more years to love him.

Fellow marine Ian Buchanan dragged Bobby’s shattered body onto a medical transport in Fallujah four years ago then disappeared as soon as their unit arrived Stateside. Since then, Marcie’s letters to Ian have gone unanswered.

Marcie tracks Ian to the tiny mountain town of Virgin River and finds a man as wounded emotionally as Bobby was physically. But she is not easily scared off. As Marcie pushes her way into his rugged and reclusive life, she discovers a sweet but damaged soul beneath a rough exterior.

Ian doesn’t know what to make of the determined young widow who forces him to look into the painful past and, what’s worse, the uncertain future. But it is, after all, a season of miracles and maybe, just maybe, it’s time to banish the ghosts and open his heart.

In the space of a few months Vanessa buried her husband, Matt, and gave birth to their son — breaking her heart while filling it with a whole new kind of love. But the one man she longs to share this love with now acts as if she doesn’t exist.

Paul Haggerty lives by the marine motto: Semper Fi. Ever faithful to his best friend, he’s done right by Matt’s widow as best he can…considering he’s been secretly in love with her for years. Now, just as he’s about to make his move, another woman has staked her claim on him — a claim that will be tough to escape.

With courage, humility and not a little meddling from the good folks of Virgin River, Vanni and Paul might just get a second chance to have the love they both desire and deserve.

Shelby MacIntyre has big plans — plans that include finding Mr. Right. Her dream man will have a clean-shaven jaw, creases in his pants and hopefully an advanced degree. What she gets is rugged Luke Riordan.

At twenty-five, after five years as her mother’s caregiver, it’s time for Shelby to experience freedom and adventure. Time for travel, college and romance. But when she visits Virgin River, she runs into Luke Riordan, decidedly not whom she has in mind.

A handsome Blackhawk pilot, Luke exited the army after twenty years, four wars and having been shot out of the sky three times. At thirty-eight he’s tough and jaded. His major was in one-night stands, with a minor in commitment avoidance.

Technically, these two are all wrong for one another. But sometimes what you want and what you need are two different things…two very good things.

    Another story I loved, I love them all, just some really stand out.

The moving story about survival, forgiveness — and the power of love to heal a wounded spirit.

Marine corporal Rick Sudder is home early from Iraq — his tour ended abruptly on the battlefield. The carefree boy is gone, replaced by a man who believes his future is as bleak as his mirror image. But can the passion and commitment of a young woman who has never given up on him mend his broken body and shattered heart?

As the people of Virgin River rally around Rick, another recent arrival tests the tightly knit mountain town’s famous welcoming spirit. Dan Brady has a questionable past, and he’s looking for a place to start over. He’d like it to be Virgin River…if he can find a way in. But he never expects to find it in the arms of a woman who was as much an outcast as himself.

For a favorite son returned from war and an outsider looking for a home, Virgin River offers them a chance to make peace with the men they once were…and to find the dreams they thought they’d lost.

Celebrate Christmas with three stories from your favorite authors.

Under the Christmas Tree by Robyn CarrWhen the folks of Virgin River discover a box of adorable puppies under the town’s Christmas tree they call on local vet Nathaniel Jensen for help. But it’s his budding romance with Annie McCarty that really has tongues—and tails—wagging!

Silver Bells by Debbie MacomberIn this classic story, Debbie brings those Manning men and Manning sisters home for a mistletoe marriage when a single dad finally says “I do.”

The Perfect Holiday by Sherryl Woods Will bachelor Trace Franklin become a groom-to-be by Christmastime? He sure will…if Savannah Holiday’s aunt Mae has anything to do with it.

Reverend Noah Kincaid moved to Virgin River to re-open an abandoned church he bought on eBay. Like Noah, the place is a little empty inside and needs some loving care.

The young widower arrives ready to roll up his sleeves and build a place of worship and welcome, but he needs some help. And the Lord works in mysterious ways….

With her tight shirts and short skirts, “Pastor’s assistant” is not a phrase that springs to mind when Noah meets brassy, beautiful Ellie Baldwin. The former exotic dancer needs a respectable job so she can regain custody of her children. And Noah can’t help but admire her spunk and motherly determination.

The pastor and the stripper: an unlikely team to revitalize a church, much less build a future. The couple has so many differences, but in Virgin River anything is possible, and happiness is never out of the question.

Four years ago, Air Force sweethearts Franci Duncan and Sean Riordan reached an impasse. She wanted marriage and a family, he didn’t. But a chance meeting proves that the bitter breakup hasn’t cooled their sizzling chemistry.

Sean has settled down in spite of himself—he’s not the cocky young fighter pilot he was when Franci left, and he wants them to try again. After all, they have a history…but that’s not all they share.

Franci’s secret reason for walking away when Sean refused to commit is now three and a half: a redheaded cherub named Rosie who shares her daddy’s emerald green eyes. Sean is stunned—and furious with Franci for the deception.

News travels fast in Virgin River, and soon the whole town is taking sides. Rebuilding their trust could take a small miracle—and the kind of love that can move mountains.

I had the pleasure of meeting Robyn this summer at a get-together put on by Robyn and Nancy Berland Robyn’s publicist at RWA in NYC. They were able to find a Bar called…you guessed it Jack’s Bar and well Jack’s Bar is the main watering hole and part-time community center in Virgin River.  Robyn and I in Jack’s Bar, and she was so nice to sign all my books I brought oh about 16, and once again I waited until the end so as not to keep the others waiting for their turn. It was such a fun time getting to meet other ladies from Robyn’s yahoo group Jack’s Bar. The next picture is me with one of Nancy Berland’s assistants, she is just the nicest gal.

  Then I had to call to find out about parking and the phone was answered by the bartender who had the sweetest Irish voice, so I had to get a picture with Liam.   I also met up wit hRobyn again at RomCon, her event where we played VR Jepardy was so fun, my team did so well, they were so glad that I had grown up there it gave us an edge, but alas the final question did us in.

Before we look at more of this wonderful series let’s ask Robyn some questions. I’m sorry Robyn canna be here today but she is locked in her writing cave and her editor is standing guard with Jack and Preacher, and I don’t won’t to go up against them.

Z: Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?

R: I think I settled in a combination of women’s fiction and romance a long time ago — it’s perfect for me. In fact looking back, even those old historicals I wrote in the 80’s were a combination of women’s fiction and romance. I’m comfortable with women’s issues and I love romance.

Z: Do you have a comfort read?

R:  I like the romances of Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jill Shalvis, Kristan Higgins, Susan Andersen, Rachel Gibson.

Z: Were you a bookworm growing up? Who did you read?

R: Surprisingly, I was not a bookworm as a child. I liked my visits to the library and did do some reading — Nancy Drew

The Bobsey Twins, and some teen romances, but not voraciously. Just the occasional novel. It was as a young wife and

mother that I started to read heavily and sold my first book at the age of 27.

Z: What is something that scares the heck out of you?

R: Heights. Definitely heights!

Z: If you could go on the Ultimate Vaca where would you go and who or what would go with you?

R: I love Maui. I always take a bathing suit, a laptop and my ereader full of books. Relaxing with a book in a

beautiful setting is my ultimate vacation.

Z: Who are some of your favorite authors?

R: Phillips, Shalvis, Higgins, Andersen, Gibson

Z: Research? How do you prefer to do it; plane/train/automobile, laptop or library?

R: I’m constantly googling things, constantly. I can’t imagine how I used to do it — hours at the library, copying and taking

notes. But I do have to visit the locale I’m writing about — especially Virgin River, especially if I’m going

to cast the town as a character.

Z: Do you attend conferences?

R: Several a year. I always go to RWA but I try to mix up the others so I’m always having new experiences and

meeting new readers.

If so where can we “stalk” I mean go to find you and which is your favorite to attend?

I guess that would be RWA.

Z: Do you have kids? If so are they toddlers, school age, teens, college bound or “Hey Mom, I’m home again! or are you an empty nester?

R: I have grown kids and grandkids — empty nester.

Z: If you could have one of your books or series to be made into a movie which would it be and who do you see staring in it?

R: I’d love to see a Virgin River TV series, but as to the star? I have no idea — there are many possibilities.

Z:  Favorite TV shows?

R: Harry’s Law, Unforgettable, The Good Wife.

I too would love to see Virgin River made in a TV series…I’d be glued to my TV and DVRing it. Let’s check out more of Virgin River, it’s set in a small town in the Redwood Forest of No. Calif. I grew up in Redding which is mention now and then. In fact we used to go over to the coast a lot as a kid and my ex’s family lives in Ferndale and Fortuna.

 

With her beloved younger siblings settled and happy, Erin Foley has got empty nest syndrome. At age thirty-five.

So she’s hitting the pause button on her life and holing up in a secluded (but totally upgraded, she’s not into roughing it) cabin near Virgin River. Erin is looking forward to really getting to know herself…not some shaggy-haired mountain man she meets wandering the woods.

In fact, beneath his faded fatigues and bushy beard, Aiden Riordan is a doctor, recharging for a summer after leaving the Navy. He’s intrigued by the pretty, slightly snooty refugee from the rat race — meditating, journaling and definitely keeping him at arm’s length. He’d love to get closer…if his scruffy exterior and crazy ex-wife don’t hold him back.

But maybe it’s something in the water — unlikely romances seem to take root in Virgin River…helped along with some well-intentioned meddling, of course.

  Three stories of hope, enchantment and romance—including an exclusive Virgin River novella from New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Robyn Carr.

These are New Year’s resolutions worth keeping!

Take a risk.At the inaugural New Year’s Eve party at Jack’s Bar, two lonely revelers decide the best balm for their broken hearts might just be each other.

Find the perfect work-life balance.When a flinty lawyer with a bad-boy addiction meets the quintessential nice guy, sparks fly that consume their expectations of life and love.

Get those finances in order. Working over the holidays on a messy bank takeover is made worse for two federal specialists by an ill-advised kiss that will never happen again…right?

   I really enjoyed the new characters introduced and look forward to seeing more of them.

THERE’S AN OLD SAYING: WHENEVER ONE DOOR CLOSES, ANOTHER ONE OPENS.

THAT’S TRUER OF VIRGIN RIVER THAN ALMOST ANYWHERE ELSE ON EARTH.

After years spent on ranches around Los Angeles, Clay Tahoma is delighted to be Virgin River’s new veterinary assistant. The secluded community’s wild beauty tugs at his Navajo roots, and he’s been welcomed with open arms by everyone in town—everyone excerpt Lilly Yazhi.

Lilly has encountered her share of strong, silent, traditional men within her own aboriginal community, and she’s not interested in coming back for more. In her eyes, Clay’s earthy, sexy appeal is just an act used to charm wealthy women like his ex-wife. She can’t deny his gift for gentling horses, but she’s not about to let him control her. There’s just one small problem—she can’t control her attraction to Clay.

But in Virgin River, faith in new beginnings and the power of love has doors opening everywhere…

SOMETIMES LOVE TAKES ROOT IN UNEXPECTED PLACES—IF YOU’LL ONLY LET IT GROW

Colin Riordan came to Virgin River to recuperate from a horrific helicopter crash, the scars of which he bears inside and out. His family is wonderfully supportive, but it’s his art than truly soothes his troubled soul.

Stung personally and professionally by an ill-advised affair, PR guru Jillian Matlock arrived in town via golden parachute. She’s bought an old Victorian with a promising garden and is looking forward to cultivating something other than a corporate brand.

When Jillian finds Colin at his easel in her yard, there’s an instant connection. But both are holding romance at arm’s length— looking to simplify, not complicate, their lives. And Jill may yet be lured back to Silicon Valley…

No one arrives in Virgin River without a story, and no one leaves—if they ever do—unchanged.

THE RECIPE FOR HAPPINESS: MAKING IT UP AS YOU GO ALONGRising sous-chef Kelly Matlock’s sudden collapse at work is a wake-up call. Disillusioned and burned out, she’s retreated to her sister Jillian’s house in Virgin River to rest and reevaluate.

Puttering in Jill’s garden and cooking with her heirloom vegetables is wonderful, but Virgin River is a far cry from San Francisco. Kelly’s starting to feel a little toounmotivated…until she meets Lief Holbrook. The handsome widower looks more like a lumberjack than a sophisticated screenwriter—a combination Kelly finds irresistible. But less appealing is Lief’s rebellious stepdaughter, Courtney. She’s the reason they moved from L.A., but Courtney’s finding plenty of trouble even in Virgin River.

Kelly’s never fallen for a guy with such serious baggage, but some things are worth fighting for. Besides, a bratty teenager can’t be any worse than a histrionic chef…right?

This next book is Robyn’s current release in her Virgin River series.

This year, Becca Timm knows the number one item on her Christmas wish list: getting over Denny Cutler. Three years ago Denny broke her heart before heading off to war. It’s time she got over her silly college relationship and moved on.

So she takes matters into her own hands and heads up to Virgin River, the rugged little mountain town that Denny calls home, as an uninvited guest on her brother’s men-only hunting weekend. But when an accident turns her impromptu visit into an extended stay, Becca finds herself stranded in Virgin River. With Denny. In veryclose quarters.

As the power of Christmas envelops the little town, Becca discovers that the boy she once loved has become a strong and confident man. An the most delicious Christmas present she can imagine.

I loved this book, I laughed and cried and shouted for joy. Here’s a little extra excerpt.

Chapter OneRich Timm pulled into Virgin River a mere ten hours after leaving San Diego. He’d made excellent time because he tended to ignore little things like speed limits. And…he had been trapped in the Ford truck with his twin sister Becca all day and had had about enough.

As Becca gazed out the window at the town, she muttered, “Seriously?”

“What?” Rich said.

“This is the place Denny never wants to leave? It isn’t exactly… you know… quaint.”

Rich pulled right up to the only bar in town, right next to a truck he knew belonged to one of the two other buddies from the Marines who were meeting him here. “Maybe that’s not what he was looking for.” Rich put the truck in park and before he turned off the ignition, he turned in his seat and said to his sister, “Since there wasn’t time to warn Denny you were coming along, promise me you won’t make trouble.”

“Rich,” she said with a laugh. “Why would I make trouble?”

“Oh I don’t know,” he said, rolling his eyes. “Because you’re his ex girlfriend? Because this is a guys’ hunting trip and you’re not one and everyone has to take care of you?”

“No one has to take care of me,” she said indignantly. Then she smiled very sweetly. “I’m anxious to meet your other friends. And hunt — I’m anxious to hunt.”

He scowled. “Right,” he said. “You expect me to believe you’re going to shoot a duck and pluck it?”

If I have to pluck it with my teeth to be convincing, she thought. “Of course! I’m a little more excited about fly fishing, though. I can’t wait to try that.” She opened her door. “You about ready?”

He grunted. “Do not be a problem. Do not be a pain in my ass for a week!”

“Do not be a jerk,” she countered.

~~~~~~~

Becca had arrived at Rich’s townhouse at three in the morning, big suitcase and shotgun in hand. When he opened the door wearing nothing but boxers she said, “Guess what? I don’t have anything to do this week. Take me with you. I’ve never been duck hunting or fly fishing.”

“You’re out of your mind, right?” he said, scratching hair crazy from bed. “Didn’t you tell Mom and Dad you were going home with Doug for Thanksgiving?”

She shook her head. “That isn’t going to work out and I don’t want Mom and Dad to cancel their trip plans just so I’m not alone on Thanksgiving.”

“Why isn’t it going to work out?”

“He’s way too busy; he’s going all the way to the east coast for two days. Come on, this is a great idea. A little last minute, but come on. Be a sport.”

“And what about Denny?” he asked. “Your ex?”

She put a hand on her hip. “It’s time we all moved on from that, don’t you think? I have no hard feelings and I’m sure he doesn’t. He probably has a girlfriend. This is a perfect opportunity to make sure it’s all cool between us. I mean really — since you guys are good friends and all… And it was a long time ago.”

“Yeah, but it was brutal,” Rich said, looking down at her suspiciously.

“We were young,” she said with a shrug.

“And what does Doug think about this?” Rich asked.

“Doug isn’t the jealous type. He told me to have a good time. Doug is not your problem…”

“I know,” Rich said. “Apparently you’re my problem.” He let her come into his townhouse. “You better know what you’re doing,” he said. “If you screw up my hunting trip, you’re going to pay.”

“Don’t worry…”

~~~~~~~

It really hadn’t been as spur of the moment as Becca pretended. A lot of planets had converged at once and she found herself planning, though quickly. First of all, Rich had been talking about this hunting trip for weeks, with good old Denny, the guy she once thought she was going to marry, the guy who broke up with her three years ago. The guy she still thought about way too much. Then the elementary school in which she taught shut down due to financial issues they just couldn’t resolve and she found herself suddenly unemployed. Then Doug, the law student she’d been seeing for the past year, made her look at engagement rings in a catalogue.

She had nothing to do besides look for work during the holidays, a dismal prospect, and worry about the fact that Doug was probably leading up to a marriage proposal while the last guy was still on her mind. All the time.

She didn’t get it. Why did she still think about Denny, dream about him? Was it just wanting what was out of reach rather than appreciating what was right in front of her? When Denny broke up with her before going to Afghanistan she had been devastated. By the time he looked her up two years later and suggested they give it another try, she had been furious and told him he was too late, she wasn’t interested. Then she met Doug Carey a year ago, a good looking second year law student, and her mother had been so relieved! Beverly Timm found Doug so much more appropriate for her daughter. Doug had it all. He was a good guy; Becca enjoyed him. He had a bright future. He came from a successful, financially secure family. He loved her. His family had their own sailboat!! It made absolutely no sense to continue to think about Denny.

There was a time when Becca had dreamt of a Christmas proposal and a beautiful ring under the tree. Now she feared it. She wanted to want to marry Doug Carey, but she just couldn’t commit to him while this ghost haunted her. It would be so wrong. So unfair to both of them.

So she had decided. She was going to force Rich to take her with him to this Virgin River, the place Denny had chosen as his home. She’d hunt and fish and try to figure out why she just couldn’t let go of the guy. She would see him again and come to the conclusion that it had been a crush, a first love between a couple of kids that she had idealized in her mind, and she’d go home to the perfect man, finally appreciating him as much as he deserved. They would live happily ever after and the image of Denny would fade, then disappear.

She looked around the town once more as she went up the steps of the log cabin bar where they were all meeting. “Seriously?” she said under her breath. It was kind of a dumpy old town; the houses were small, a lot of them had peeling paint. There weren’t even street lights or sidewalks. Besides a little grocery store and the bar, there didn’t appear to be any commerce. What did these people do for entertainment? For fun? “Hunting and fishing,” she reminded herself. “Whoopee.”

Yeah, she was hopeful. Just a look at this backwoods little town was promising — she’d figure out what happened with Denny, where it all went so wrong and why. They’d been so different in the first place and now she had to find a way to move on so she could happily marry a man with a law degree and his own sailboat.

~~~~~~~

Denny Cutler had come to Virgin River in search of roots and a year after stumbling into Jack’s Bar, he was secure that he’d found the place he would live for the rest of his life. He had friends that were as tight as family. He also had a career, one he had never in his craziest dreams envisioned — he was a farmer! An associate in an organic farm that promised to grow strong and profitable.

It was Jack’s idea that he reach out to a couple of his buddies, maybe from the Corps where he’d spent four years, and invite them to Virgin River for a little guy stuff — hunting, fishing, poker. Jilly Farms wasn’t too busy in late fall and could spare him for a few days. He knew exactly which guys he’d like to host. They were Troy, Dirk and Rich who were like brothers to him during his first hitch, during his deployment to Iraq. Dirk and Troy were both reservists and lived near Sacramento and Rich Timm, also known as Big Richie or sometimes just Big, was from San Diego where Denny grew up, though Denny hadn’t met him until the Corps. Rich got out of the Marines after two years, finished college and was now an engineer who worked for the highway department in San Diego, building freeways and bridges. All three of these guys loved camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, anything a little rugged. And they would love Virgin River.

The only downside to his friendship with Rich — he was Becca’s twin brother. That’s how Denny had met his old girlfriend, through Rich, while they were on leave together back in San Diego, years ago. And since Denny and Becca broke up, the continued friendship put Denny a little too close to all available news about Becca. Rich only told him if he asked, of course, which he couldn’t seem to keep himself from doing, even though he wanted to forget her as thoroughly as she’d forgotten him.

So, when plans fell together for the four guys, it turned out Thanksgiving week was the best time for everyone. “Perfect,” Jack said. “We got Riordan cabins on the river and my guest house is available — plenty of room. We have duck hunting, fishing and Preacher always serves a big Thanksgiving dinner at the bar. The day after Thanksgiving we go out into the woods to find, chop down and put up a thirty-foot Christmas tree outside the bar — that’s a circus you don’t want to miss.”

So the plans were set. Troy, Dirk and Rich were due to arrive on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, depart the Sunday following.

Denny had had a few rough years before settling in Virgin River — his mother had died, he reentered the Corps and was deployed to Afghanistan, he broke up with Becca after they’d been together for over three years — and finally, at the age of twenty-five, things were finally falling into place for him. Life was good. He was happy.

Troy and Dirk arrived by four on Sunday afternoon. Not only was Denny on hand at the bar to greet them and serve them up a beer, but both Jack and Preacher made it a point to be around. Dirk and Troy were going to stay in one of Luke Riordan’s cabins, so Luke and Colin Riordan dropped by for a quick beer to be part of the welcoming party. Preacher had a stout meal planned, but it being the Sunday night before a big family holiday week like Thanksgiving, there weren’t too many out of towners in the bar — just four hunters over in the corner at the table by the hearth enjoying a pitcher of beer. They practically had the place to themselves.

Finally the door to the bar opened and Big Richie stepped inside. He stood just inside the door and wore a look on his face that Denny could only describe as apologetic. And then she stepped inside right behind him.

Becca!

What the hell? was Denny’s first thought. He stood behind the bar, next to Jack, his mouth hanging open. She lifted her chin and smiled at the gathering. Dirk and Troy knew of her, but they’d never actually met her.

Rich gave a lame shrug.

God, she sure hadn’t gotten any worse looking, Denny thought. Five-seven, slim build, large blue eyes, her sun-streaked hair pulled back in a clip that left it flouncing in large, loose curls on the back of her head with little wisps around her face. She was tan, of course. She was a beach bunny. And despite the fact that the memory of how she looked in a very tiny bikini came instantly to Denny’s mind, those long legs and perfect butt sure did justice to a pair of jeans and boots.

He was in a complete daze. Except for the physical response. He was so glad he was standing behind the bar.

Smiling, she walked around her brother and approached the bar. She barely looked at Denny. “Hi,” she said, putting out her hand first to Troy. “I’m Becca, Rich’s sister. I hope I’m not intruding.”

Troy took the hand and a smile slid slowly across his face. “Not. At. All,” he said smoothly.

She grinned at him as he hung onto her hand. “Bet you have a name,” she said.

“Ah… Yeah… I’ll think of it in a second…”

“Troy,” Denny said impatiently. “His name is Troy.”

“Nice to meet you, Troy.” She offered the hand to Dirk.

“Dirk Curtis,” he said. “Nice to finally meet you.”

“Becca, what are you doing here?” Denny asked.

She lifted one shoulder and tilted her head. “Well, I guess it’s going to be either duck hunting or fly fishing — two things I’ve been dying to try. I need to expand my horizons a little bit. Thanks for including me.”

“I didn’tinclude you.”

“Rich said it would probably be okay, and thanks.” She looked between Dirk and Troy. “You guys don’t mind, do you?”

“It’s a pleasure,” Dirk said.

Troy leaned an elbow on the bar, his head on his hand. “I take it you don’t hunt or fish?”

“She surfs,” Denny said sharply, glowering.

“And I sail, among other things,” she added pleasantly. “We live in San Diego. It’s what happens there — surfing, sailing, volley ball, biking, hiking, skiing in winter. If you guys show me the hunting and fishing ropes, I’ll be glad to teach you to surf — I’m much better at it than Rich, although he might be a slightly better sailor. Don’t do anything different just because I’m along — I’m just one of the guys on this trip. I promise not to get in the way.”

“Right,” Denny said.

“Seriously,” she insisted, narrowing her eyes at him.

“You’re going to be sorry you said that when one of these clowns decides to pee on a bush,” he snidely pointed out to her, lifting one eyebrow.

A bark of laughter came from Colin Riordan, which marked the first time Denny remembered there were others present. Just a second after Colin’s laugh, a giant hand came down on his shoulder and Preacher said, “Give me a hand in the kitchen, would you, Den?”

He treated her to one final, withering glare before following the big cook into the kitchen. Once there, he found himself face to face with a man who could easily top him for fierce, weakening stares. And Preacher said, “What the hell, Dennis! Were you raised by apes?”

“She’s my ex-girlfriend, all right?” Denny said by way of explanation.

“We got that,” Preacher said, his hands on his hips, his bushy black eyebrows drawn together in a scowl. “And your excuse for acting like an ass is…?”

“It was complicated,” he said. “My mom died, I closed up and wouldn’t talk, shut Becca out when she wanted to help. Then without saying anything, I rejoined the Corps and told her after the fact. For which she was very pissed. So I broke up with her before I deployed so she could date other guys while I was gone.”

As he was finishing that tale, Jack was entering the kitchen and got the last of it, but he didn’t need the details. He’d actually heard the story before. Now Jack wore his upside down, contemplative smile, nodding. “Makes perfect sense,” he said.

“It does?” Denny asked.

“Of course. You can’t stand to even see her shake hands with another guy in a public bar, so you cut her loose to date some. Oh yeah. Brilliant.”

“It was not a smart time in my life,” he admitted. “So after my two year commitment I went straight to her and apologized, asked if maybe we could try again.”

“And she said?” Jack asked.

“I believe the direct quote was, ‘Dream on.’ We argued a little bit and she told me I’d been replaced, that she’d probably be engaged in a year. That’s when I decided to come up here. Start over.”

“Well don’t look now, Denny. Your past has followed you. You have to go out there and apologize. Again.”

“Wait a sec, she shouldn’t have just dropped in like this, right on my— my— my whatever this is. She should’ve called. Or Big should’ve called!”

“You seem to be the only one put out by her appearance,” Jack pointed out.

“Rich didn’t look all that happy, but the other two? The only time they’re not on the prowl, looking for chicks, is when they’re asleep. I’m sure they’re thrilled to meet Becca.”

“Then if it bothers you, I suggest you keep an eye on things,” Jack said.

Denny stole a glance at Preacher, who gave a nod.

“Starting with, you have a word with Becca, see if you can sort things out enough to have a good week,” Jack said. “You wanted to do this; you can’t make everyone else miserable just because you have a bug up your ass about a girl. Call a truce or something. Whatever it takes.” And with that, Jack returned to the bar.

But what Denny really wanted to do was take off out the back door.

No, not true, he thought. What he’d rather do was walk back into the bar, grab her and kiss the hell out of her. And beat the crap out of anyone who tried to get between him and her.

But he heard Dream on inside his head. And the voice was hers.

Robyn has three more VR books coming out this year. Here’s a look at them.

ROMANCE UNDER CONSTRUCTION…

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 Leslie was disappointed by her relationship going bad, Conner was decimated. He’s got no time for woman…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!

CAN CHANGING A TIRE CHANGE YOUR LIFE?

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 doesn’t have the first clue about 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 site 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.

WELCOME BACK TO THE RIVER.

TOM CAVANAUGH MAY THINK HE WANTS A TRADITIONAL WOMAN, BUT IN VIRGIN RIVER, THE GREATEST TRADITION IS FALLING IN LOVE UNEXPECTEDLY…

Former marine Tom Cavanaugh’s come home to Virgin River, ready to take over his family’s apple orchard and settle down. He knows just what the perfect woman will be like: sweet, decent, maybe a little naive. The marryingkind.

Nothing like Nora Crane. So why can’t he keep his eyes off the striking single mother?

Nora may not have a formal education, but she graduated with honors from the school of hard knocks. She’s been through tough times and she’ll do whatever it takes to support her family, including helping with harvest time at the Cavanaugh’s orchard. She’s always kept a single-minded focus on staying afloat…but suddenly her thoughts keep drifting back to rugged, opinionated Tom Cavanaugh.

Both Nora and Tom have their own ideas of what family means. But they’re about to prove each other completely wrong…

Well there you have one of the greatest contemporary series in my opinion. I hope if you haven’t visited Virgin River you decide too.

If you want to go and check out Robyn or her VR series you can go here http://www.robyncarr.com/index.html or here http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RobynCarr_Chatgroup/

Today Robyn is giving away 3 copies of Hidden Summit and I am giving away a copy of Seals of My Dreams with a foreword by Robyn. The contest is open to US and Canada only today.

I want to take a moment to thank Robyn, I get home to No. Calif very rarely but each time I read a VR book I am instantly taken home again. I miss it and my family and I can’t wait to take an extended vaca and drive all around where I grew up. My favorite drive is to go up to Mount Shasta, of course I also love to walk down the main street in Ferdale/Fortuna and pop into the old-time general mercantile, they have so much neat stuff in there and I like to pick up some smoked Salmon, yum.

Z Seawitch

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3. Winners will be drawn 3 days after each post and a master list will be posted on Feb 17th. You will have until Feb 29th to email me at SeawitchReviews @ yahoo (dot) com. I will also send an email to each winner but if I don’t hear from you by the 29th a new winner will be drawn.

Z Seawitch

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