Welcome to one of my favorite series, Virgin River, it’s like a trip home for me when I crack open one of Robyn’s VR stories. In fact as we speak my parents are somewhere near Eureka taking pictures. You’ll know Eureka if you’ve read any of these books but my parents live in Anderson which is right outside of Redding, also mentioned in the series and my big sis works at the Redding Airport at a restaurant there, also mentioned in the series,  how cool is that???

Hidden Summit by Robyn Carr, I always look forward to a Robyn Carr Book because not only is it going to be full of heartfelt emotion but it’s a trip home for me. If you’ve read any of Robyn’s Virgin River books you know about Redding Calif. Well that’s where I grew up most of my young life, where my parents, sister and brother still live. Although I will say it has changed and grown much bigger than when I left, I have a hard time finding my way around now.

I have to start with the cover. We used to go on picnics at places that look similar to the cover as a kid, some of the best memories, but the mountain we were near was Mount Shasta         

or mount Lassen, which can both be seen from the front porch or mom and da’s home.         By the way, both of these are Volcanos, Lassen last erupted in 1914, I’ve hiked up both as a kid. Oh and I believe they are both sleeping at this time, but if they both should go….well it doesn’t bear thinking of.

Now back to our feature today Hidden Summit.

Reading a Virgin River story always fills me with happiness, sometimes sadness, then with happiness again and always a longing for home.

So Hidden Summit is the 17th book in the Virgin River series and we get to meet some new characters as well as catch up with some old friends like Jack and Preacher. I love Jack and how he is just a little nosey, but in a good way. Here is one of my favorite parts of the book, it’s near the end., Let’s set up the scene….Brie- Jack’s sister is about to brief a small group of people about a situation.

“This has to stay in this tight little group,” Brie said, holding on to a longneck beer.” Just between the five of us. Jack?”

“What?” he returned, insulted.

Her gaze connected with Paul, Leslie, Preacher and finally her brother. “You’re the only one I worry about. You know— you like to talk.”

“Not if I know it’s a secret!” he said

I love Jack, he’s a real stand up – give you the shirt off his back in the middle of a blizzard sorta guy. The guy you want to be your neighbor and friend.

So now let’s get to todays hero, Connor  who has come to VR with a chip on his shoulder but is taking some lessons from Jack, Preacher, Paul and the rest of the town and will change into that kind of guy as the story moves along.

Connor Danson is just your average Joe, hard-working, law-abiding and the sole witness of a murder. He’s in hiding until the trial awaiting to testify, his hardware store was burned to the ground, his family scattered for protection and it has made Connor one unhappy man.

Leslie Petruso our heroine has had enough! Her marriage of 8 years went belly up and is behind her but her ex-husband won’t leave her alone. He wants to be “friends – best friends”. Hello! who would want to be best friends with their ex-husband who has cheated on them and then tells you he has fallen in love for the first time ever. Is this guy for real???? I love how Leslie gives him what for when he ferrets out where she has moved to get away form him. And Jack as always is priceless with his thoughts on the matter when Leslie has a confrontation with her ex at Jack’s Bar, as you’ll find out when you read the book.

I love Virgin River and if a place like it had an empty house – I’d move lickedee split.

Robyn’s characters are all well-developed, they could be your neighbors and friends.  You want to have them as your friends and neighbors! The changes that happen with Connor going from having that chip on his shoulder back into what he probably was like  pre-murder is well-timed throughout the story. Leslie has been beaten down in the self-esteem department thanks to her ex-husband and his new pregnant wife, so it is great to see the strong woman in her resurface. You don’t want to tick her off if there is a fire extinguisher with-in reach.

There is such a sense of community and truly caring for one’s town and neighbors in Robin’s books. We see this when the community pulls together for some much-needed construction to benefit the town. Then when one of the supporting characters Nora who if you’ve read the series you know, is attacked in her home and Leslie and two little old ladies who are also Nora’s neighbors come to her rescue until the big guns Jack, Preacher and Mike arrive to ties things up. robin does such a great job incorporating secondary stories and long running secondary stories(if you read the series you know what I mean) into her books.

There was only one part in the story that made me stop and say “What?” and that is because as I have said I grew up there. I have to tell you about it and I did email Robin about it so we could both get a chuckle, she is such a great lady I’m so glad I have met her and feel like I can email her about her wonderful books. Robin has Leslie thinking about Connor who has left to visit his sister and her twin sons before he goes to testify. She is wondering if Connor will have time to call her before the long 5 hour drive from the Redding Airport to Sacramento. My parents live about 10 min. from the airport and we drive to Sacramento a lot and it usually takes about 3 hours to make that drive. My first thought when I read that was,”What was he driving about 40 – 45 miles an hour?”  But since I haven’t lived there for a while I called my da and asked him and told him about it. He said the same thing..”Was he going about 45?”, my da and I are a lot alike. I didn’t put this in to make fun of the story, I just think it’s cool  that the book is set where I grew up and that Robyn is such a nice lady that you can email her to discuss her books. That’s what happens sometimes when you are from the place an author writes about. I’ve made the drive enough that it does feel like it takes 5 hours to drive it, it’s flat and not much to look at until you hit the rice patties.

Robin has done a great job of combining suspense with some twists and turns I didn’t see coming, there is also a sense of self-rediscovery, moving on and going forward into a bright new unknown future. I love, love , love the last few lines of this story…but don’t read them first or you’ll miss all the good stuff leading up to them. I hope you all will go out and pick up Hidden Summit.

 Book Blurb:  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!

Excerpt from Robyn’s site:

Chapter OneBrie Valenzuela finished her large latte and looked into the empty cup. She’d been waiting in this coffee shop for over an hour, trying to look engrossed in her newspaper, but as the time ticked by she only grew more concerned. The man she was meeting was a witness to a murder and needed a place to hide out. She’d be hooking him up with a place to stay and a job in Virgin River as a favor to one of her colleagues from the Sacramento District Attorney’s office, and when a witness was late in meeting his contact, there was reason to be concerned.

Brie wanted to make a phone call to Sacramento, but didn’t. Instead, she asked the Barista for another latte.

This witness, now known as Conner Danson, saw a very well known, high profile Sacramento businessman shoot another man and toss his body in a dumpster. Danson was taking trash out to the dumpster behind his hardware store when it happened. He slipped behind the dumpster and saw everything; he called the police and became the only witness to the crime, although thanks to his prompt report, they found evidence of blood in the man’s car, though it had been cleaned, but no weapon. DNA proved the blood belonged to the victim. But, shortly after an arrest was made, Danson’s hardware store burned to the ground. And there was a threat left on his home phone voice mail while the store was burning. You stayed out of the heat this time, but you won’t slip by us again.

Clearly the suspect, Regis Mathis, known as a very distinguished pillar of the community, was “connected.”

Brie had served as an Assistant District Attorney with Max, officially Ray Maxwell, some years ago. Max was now the DA. He’d suspected some trouble with other witnesses’ anonymity and wasn’t sure whether the leak was in his office or the Federal Marshal’s unit, so to be on the cautious side, he set up his own program. He wasn’t about to take any chances on losing the key and only witness to a high profile murder. Virgin River with Brie involved was an excellent option.

It was another twenty minutes before the door opened and a man entered, but her first thought was that it couldn’t possibly be her witness. First of all, he was too young to own a prosperous hardware store that catered to custom builders — this guy was no more than thirty-five. And he was, for lack of a more refined description, hot. At about six-two, he was built like a war horse, his muscles almost popping into prominence beneath the white tee-shirt under his opened leather jacket. Wide shoulders, narrow hips, low-slung jeans, long legs. Although he wore a very unhappy expression at the moment, his face was perfectly symmetrical — square jaw, straight nose, thick brows and deep, dark blue eyes. He sported a very handsome, sculptured and tightly trimmed moustache and goatee.

He lifted his chin in her direction. She stood and he walked toward her. She opened her arms. “Give me a hug, Conner. Like we’re old friends. I’m Brie Valenzuela.”

He complied a little reluctantly, nearly swallowing her up in his embrace, she was so small. “Nice to meet you,” he said quietly.

“Sit down. I’ll get you a coffee. What’s your pleasure?”

“Just plain old coffee. Black.”

“Got it.” She went to the counter, ordered, collected the coffee and returned. “So,” she said. “We’re about the same age. We could pass for friends from college.”

“I didn’t really go to college,” he said. “One semester.”

“That works. How old are you?”

“Thirty-five.”

“Aren’t you kind of young to own a successful business?”

“Used to own,” he said, his expression darkening. “It was my father’s. He died a dozen years ago but I was raised in that store. I took over.”

“I see,” she said. “So, we’re friends from college. You’re up here looking for something a little different after the builder you worked for in Colorado Springs shut down; there’s a complete script of your history in this envelope, though I’m sure Max went over all of it with you.”

He gave a nod. “As well as all my new ID. I picked up the truck this morning in Vacaville.”

“I reserved you a small cabin. Very small, but comfortable. It’s going to be temporary, so say it’s just until you find out if you like it here. And a friend of mine, Paul Haggerty, is a builder. He’ll give you a job — he can keep you on through summer if necessary, it’s his busy building season. That gives you six months, but you won’t need that much time. I hope.”

“Who knows about me?” he asked her.

“My husband, Mike, and I. And you want Mike to know. He’s not just a small town cop, he’s a very experienced LAPD detective. Otherwise, you’re completely anonymous. And seriously, I’m sorry you have to go through this. But on behalf of the state, thank you for agreeing to testify.”

“Lady, don’t thank me. I am out of choices,” he said. “And don’t stand anywhere near me in a thunderstorm because I am like a magnet for lightning. My life has gone straight to hell in the last year.”

Brie frowned. “Don’t call me lady,” she said. “My name is Brie and I’m helping you. Show some gratitude. You’re not the only person alive to have a little bad luck; I’ve had my share. Now, I have a new cell phone for you. Here’s a number — you can touch base with your sister who also has a new cell phone. The area code for both phones is in Colorado Springs and the DA’s office is picking up the tab. You can keep in touch with Katie this way. You won’t get reception in the mountains, forests or town of Virgin River, but while you’re out on construction jobs in clear areas or around here, in Fortuna, you’ll have reception. And in here,” she said, sliding him the large envelope, “directions to the Riordan cabins and to Paul Haggerty’s office. Also, directions to a little bar and grill in Virgin River — good food. Do not get drunk and spill your guts or you’ll probably just be moving again. If you live that long.”

“I don’t get drunk.”

“More’s the mercy,” she muttered. “If you need anything, call me at this number. Do not call the DA. He’ll call you or contact you through me. This is serious, Conner. You don’t have any options. Whether you agree to testify or not, the man you witnessed committing murder obviously has the means to have you taken out. The authorities have always suspected he’s that kind of man, even though he appears on the surface to be quite upstanding.”

“Understand something,” he said to Brie. “If it weren’t for my sister and nephews, I might just go up against him because A — I’m that kind of man and B — I’m a little past caring.”

“Your sister could be collateral damage, just being related. I know you’ve been told but I’m telling you again. When you speak with your sister, no clues about where you are. Don’t discuss the time zone or weather or landmarks, like redwood groves. I’m sure we’re secure but there’s no point in taking chances. Let’s get through this whole. Hm?”

He sat back. He lifted his coffee cup. “Yeah,” he said sullenly.

“Get settled into your cabin. Go see Paul and get your job. When you’re comfortable, I’ll have you to dinner. Maybe talking with Mike will settle your nerves a little.”

“Yeah,” he said again.

“Can I just remind you that this is all gratis? A favor for an old friend? No one’s getting paid for this! I’m sticking my neck out for the DA because he’s a good man and I owe him! Go the extra mile and try to be pleasant! Seriously — I don’t need the irritation! I have a family. I was an ADA in Sacramento but now I’m freelance up here and I have a husband and a little girl, not to mention a lot of close friends!”

“If you had any idea what the past year has been like…”

She put her hand over his in what might appear as a gesture of friendship to the casual observer, but her voice was firm. “I’m sure it’s been hell. But we have a mission here. You’re a friend from college, remember? And I don’t need my brother and my close friends wondering why the hell I’d find you a place to live and a job because you’re such an ass! So—”

“Brother?” he asked.

“I came up here to hide out while I was getting ready to testify against a rapist. I stayed after the trial.”

He gulped. “Rapist, huh? Who’d he rape?”

“Me,” she said. “First he beat conviction — I was the prosecutor. Then he raped and tried to kill me. So, you can assume I understand some of what you’re going through…”

He was quiet for a long moment. He had been the primary support of his sister and nephews for a few years now. He couldn’t help but wonder how he’d feel if she had gone through something like that. It turned his stomach. Finally he swallowed thickly and asked, “Did you get him?”

“Life sentence, no parole.”

He let out his breath. “Good for you.”

“This goatee,” she asked, running her fingers over her own upper lip and chin. “Is it new?”

“A slight change was suggested,” he said. “New.”

I see. Well, I understand you’re going to need some time to adjust. Even though you haven’t done this before, I have. Give me a call if you get antsy. For right now — try to enjoy the area. It’s incredibly beautiful. A man could do worse.”

“Sure. Yeah,” he said. “And, I’m sorry you had to go through what you had to go through, you know?”

“It was awful. And behind me now, as this will be behind you. You can get a fresh start. Um, Conner? Listen, you’re not a bad looking guy but this wouldn’t be a good time to hook up, if you get my drift.”

“Not a problem,” he said. “Not looking to hook up.”

“Good. I guess,” she said, standing. “Hug me. Like old college friends.”

He opened his arms. “Thanks,” he said roughly.

So today we’ll also take a look at the first the first seven stories in this series and Friday we’ll view the rest.

 Here is the book that started it all for me Virgin River. I actually didn’t go out and buy it until the second or third book came out and I read the blurb on Writer’s Space, when I saw it was set in the Redwoods I checked it out and boy am I glad I did, I love love love this series!

Blurb:

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.

 I love this title, Preacher becomes Paige’s  mountain,and he is big…like in a mountain! This is one of my favorites of this series.

Blurb:

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.

    In SECOND CHANCE PASS, Vanessa Rutledge seeks a brighter future.

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.

     In TEMPTATION RIDGE, Shelby MacIntyre learns the magic of foresaking the almighty ‘mate’ checklist.

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.

    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.

   Under the Christmas Tree by Robyn Carr When 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!

You’ll find this story in the That Holiday Feeling Anthology.

If you want to visit Robin you can go here : http://robyncarr.com/ or here to Jack’s Bar chatroom http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RobynCarr_Chatgroup/.

Z Seawitch

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