This second generation of Virgin River is really a hit or miss. Unlike the triple threat that started the series, the connection isn’t hitting home with the last three. Paradise Valley is merely nice with a dash of disappointment. No one had to hold me down to finish – in fact I was gunning through the last half – but mine was not a happy sigh when the last page turned. <a href="http://www.likesbooks.com/banmanpro/a.aspx?ZoneID=4&Task=Click&Mode=HTML&SiteID=1&PageID=33387 ” target=”_blank”> <img src="http://www.likesbooks.com/banmanpro/a.aspx?ZoneID=4&Task=Get&Mode=HTML&SiteID=1&PageID=33387 ” width=”150″ height=”200″ border=”0″ alt=””>
If you are new to the series, this one is not where you want to start out. The opening chapter picks up right where Temptation Valley left off and, aside from a few catch-up paragraphs regarding certain characters, a newbie would be lost (and a tad bored, I’d wager).
The loose ends prepping for a nice little bow are as follows:
- Retired General Walt and his movie star lady-friend are separated while she works on a movie. They care about each other and enjoy each other’s company, but do their two vastly different lives mesh?
- Abby and Cameron had a steamy one night stand while Abby was still married. Now they are both living in Virgin River and have a few things in common that will keep them in each other’s lives for good, but Abby fights her attraction despite their obvious connection. He’s too good to be true and I can see why Abby would have her reservations.
- Rick Sudder is having a bad time dealing with the internal and external wounds sustained on his tour in Iraq. Unfortunately, he is alienating the people who love him the most in the process. Jack has been something like a father to Rick and is feeling guilty enough without Rick’s blatant hostility. Lizzie, the girl he loves, refuses to give up on him while he does everything he can to push her away.
- Finally, the shady pot grower himself becomes a bona fide member of the Virgin River community. Dan Brady is trying to put his life back on the straight and narrow and it leads him to Cheryl Creighton. Cheryl is the rehabbed town drunk who doesn’t think she needs a man in her life. Dan knows she’s still shaky and needs to take things slowly. He doesn’t mind, though, since he thinks Cheryl is a keeper.OK, folks, that’s the book. As far as romance clichés go, Paradise Valley is the how-to manual. Personally, I don’t mind a few clichés. I didn’t mind the predictability or the syrupy moments either. (Let that be a warning for those who do). As a follower of the series from the start, I knew what I was getting into when it comes to sweet moments, thin plotting, and unbelievable characters, but this one offers a higher dose than some of the previous books. Or maybe my tolerance is just running low.
Another thing that sticks out like a sore thumb after reading seven books revolving around ex-military men and their new lives is the author’s insistence on how big and bad some of these guys are despite the fact that these “tough” marines don’t really come off that way. They might drop the F-bomb occasionally, but it’s still a hard sell. Give me a couple of giant, muscular guys with a chip on their shoulder who turn to mush when they meet the right lady and I’m good with it – in fact, it’s one of my favorites archetypes. But this town is getting in to the double digits in marshmallow badasses and I can only suspend reality so much. By the time the ex-pot grower was doing impromptu counseling sessions and sounding more and more like Dr. Phil as the pages turned, I’d reached my limit.
Still, Robyn Carr is a fine storyteller. Her vision is fully realized on the page and, from first to last, I get what she’s trying to convey. This is one of the major draws to the series. And if the basic plotting and characters are less than entertaining, the warmth and sense of escape are still strong in this book.
A more centralized couple or storyline would have been very welcome here, but all the random strings are pulled together at the end, some with more panache than others. I cheered for Abby and Cameron while Ricky (a fan favorite) was down right slappable. Poor pot-growing Dan and his lady got a very short end of the plot stick. As for Walt and Muriel, they become quite forgettable.
It’s hard to write another not-so-glowing review for a now beloved writer. Regular readers will want to find out how the story plays out, but they might not be too happy with the results.