Shelter Mountain
Grade : B+

My husband posed a hypothetical to me not too long ago: If there was a book I wanted - really, really wanted, but the only way I could get it was to drive to a town 300 miles away, what would I do? My response: “Road Trip!” This conversation, singled out from the many we have had regarding my addiction, has led me to a new type of book. A 300 mile book is one that you are so excited over reading you will do most anything to get your hands on it. Robyn Carr's latest has the distinction of being the very first on my list of 300 mile books. And it lived up to almost all my expectations.

First things first; this is not a stand alone. If you haven’t read Virgin River, turn off your computer and do just that, then come back and see me. To start with Shelter Mountain will leave you slightly confused and not as in tuned with the already established characters and settings that Ms. Carr doesn’t try to rehash in typical sequel fashion.

John "Preacher" Middleton is getting ready to close up the bar one night when a woman and child enter in obvious distress. Paige is jumpy and covered in bruises, but tries to hide her problems from the kind man and get moving again quickly. Preacher is not one to pry, but he knows when he sees someone in need of help. He offers what he can to the woman and her small son.

Paige Lassiter is finally getting away from her abusive husband. It’s a rainy fall night when she heads into Virgin River on her way to a safe house in Oregon. Preacher is a scary giant of a man, but as much as she is intimidated by him, she can’t help but take up his offer for her son’s sake. She quickly realizes that, while Preacher could snap her neck with the flick of a wrist, he's just a giant teddy bear. John is overly shy and inexperienced with women. As he and Paige adjust to one another, he’s unwilling to act on his feelings, even though Paige is doing everything possible to show him she’s ready for him. The ex-husband causes a problem in their newfound relationship, but otherwise these two are meant for each other and don’t fight it.

There is a lot more to this book than just the romance between Paige and Preacher. Mel and Jack, with whom I fell in love in Virgin River, play a huge role here. It is through them that I laughed, cried and simply smiled at their amusing fights. They aren’t just here for cameos, but for a continuation of their story. Jack’s friend Mike and his sister Brie are up for the starring roles of the next installment, Whispering Rock, and their story is set up nicely here. I’m not feeling as jazzed for that book as I was for this one, but I'm sure I will be in line at the local bookstore that Tuesday morning.

My only problem was that there wasn’t enough of Paige and Preacher. I wouldn’t trade a word of this book, but would rather just add to it. I know there wasn’t much conflict between the pair, but I also didn’t get to spend much time with them. There is a large chuck in the middle where they are barely even mentioned. As with the rest of the cast, they are great characters of whom I couldn’t get enough. They are also great characters who are very real. I think that is the key point as to why this series is so wonderful.

Robyn Carr has made a true fan of me and even after this series ends, I will keep my eye out for her, as well as explore her backlist. This may not be a true DIK, but it came darn close. And If I did drive 300 miles, I don’t think I would regret it.

Reviewed by Lisa Gardineer
Grade : B+

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : April 28, 2007

Publication Date: 2007/05

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