Bring Me Home For Christmas
As a fan of Robyn Carr’s books and the Virgin River series as a whole, I wasn’t quite sure how to rate Bring Me Home for Christmas. Sometimes anticipation and expectations interfere with my perception on the first reading. So I waited a couple of weeks and reread it. This time it was easier to decide that I like this book, even if it is a bit uneven for me.
There are some truly heartwarming moments, and poignant moments like Denny saying that, “Sometimes you make your family,” but several of the plot devices, like the heroine moving from one relationship to another extremely quickly, as well as the characterization of her ex-boyfriend impacted my grade.
Denny Culter and Rich Timm become friends after they both end up in the same Marine Corps unit at Camp Pendleton. On leave together, Denny meets Rich’s twin sister Becca, and the attraction between them is mutual and immediate. Rich and Denny deploy to Iraq, and Becca keeps her relationship with Denny strong by sending long e-mails and loving care packages. Once Denny returns home, life is idyllic for almost a year. However, as Denny’s mother suffers terminal cancer, he is consumed by her care and then decides to re-enlist following her death. After getting orders to Afghanistan, Denny decides that it is unfair to put Becca through the worry of another overseas deployment, and breaks up with her. He doesn’t want to tie her down in case something happens to him. Becca is devastated as they have been together for three years, and have even talked about getting married. Two years later she is a much stronger person, and realizes that she doesn’t want a relationship where the other person’s coping mechanism is to walk when life proves difficult, so when Denny asks for a second chance, she answers him with an emphatic no.
Even after dating Doug Carey, a guy with “commendable qualities – brains, education, money, confidence, and looks” for a year Becca stills dreams about Denny. When Doug starts talking about rings, she knows she needs to do something to let go of her idealistic recollections of her time with Denny. Surely that is the reason for the doubts she has about marriage to Doug. To put things in perspective, she needs to see Denny one more time, so she connives her way into Rich’s Thanksgiving week long hunting retreat in Virgin River.
To say that Denny is shocked to see Becca come through the door of Jack’s Bar is the understatement of the year. It has been a year since he asked Becca for a second chance, admitting that he screwed up big time. But after she told him that she had moved on, he didn’t really expect to see her again although he hasn’t been able to resist encouraging Rich to talk about her. The other guys in the group don’t have any problem with having a woman along, but their perceived flirtation with Becca causes Denny to see red. After a fairly heated argument causes Becca to jump out of his stopped truck, breaking her ankle, Denny feels guilty and volunteers to take care of her until she can travel home. While Becca hadn’t planned on spending this much time with Denny it will allow her to put closure on their relationship, or will it?
While I completely understand Becca needing to manufacture an excuse to visit Denny since my own pride sure wouldn’t let me admit to an old boyfriend that I couldn’t get him out of my head, I am not convinced she went about it the right way. I would have liked it better if she had been honest with her brother, and explained the real reason why she was butting into his male getaway. Plus, her forcing her company on a reunion of service buddies without anyone being in on her real reason for being there didn’t seem entirely realistic.
I also found it strange that none of the women asked Becca if she was okay with sleeping in Denny’s apartment and having him handle her care at night. True they had been lovers once, but they haven’t had any type of intimacy for several years. In addition, the story arc involving a new boyfriend versus an old is fairly reminiscent of Angel’s Peak.
Interspersed with doubts about the set-up of their reunion, I enjoyed getting to know Denny and Becca more thoroughly. If you read this series, then you know that Denny is a wonderful guy and Becca is his perfect match in that aspect. As a second grade teacher, her love for her profession and the kids is clearly illuminated. As appropriate for a Christmas story, the message of new beginning, forgiveness, and giving to others is very uplifting and touching.
This book is the fourteenth book in the series and while new readers won’t know Denny’s full history, I do believe that it can easily be read as a stand-alone. Like me, many of you look forward to Robyn Carr’s new releases. I think overall you will be pleased with Bring Me Home For Christmas.