We all have our comfort reads, books and authors that we can count on for escape from our day-to-day worries. Carr is one of mine and Sunrise Point, the latest of the Virgin River series, is the kind of calming, soothing love story that is like a sigh and a nod between old friends.
Unwed mother Nora Crane has been left high and dry by her druggie boyfriend in Virgin River and is being cared for by the good people of the community. When she tells the pastor that she wants to work to provide for her daughters, he says the only jobs open are as apple pickers at Cavanaugh’s Orchard.
She walks the three miles to the orchard only to be told by manager Tom Cavanaugh that he doesn’t hire young women for the job because it’s too hard for them. Tom’s grandmother who raised him, however, has a different opinion and persuades him to hire Nora.
It’s not that war veteran Tom has anything against Nora. He just can’t imagine such a beautiful woman lifting the tons of apples required to do the job. He’s also stunned that Nora will be walking six miles round trip to and from the job.
Tom is an example of what Carr writes best—a muddle-headed man who means well and gets incredibly tongue-tied in the presence of a determined and outspoken woman. Even as Tom does and says monumentally stupid things during the course of falling in love with Nora, any woman who’s had a boyfriend or husband will smile and nod in understanding at his ineptitude.
Nora is a strong, resilient woman who grew up under a mentally ill mother’s manic care. Her father walked out of their lives when she was six, and she hasn’t heard from him since. But when the Virgin River pastor says that a man going by her father’s name is looking for her, she has to decide whether she wants that forgotten part of her life open again.
Nora, therefore, has to grapple with raising and providing for her children as well as a past that’s waiting to ambush her, whereas Tom, being established and happy as an apple grower, just has to pull himself together enough to know how and where to find his happy ever after.
In all fairness, Tom does have the added complication of a grandmother who loves him to death and is never shy about telling him who’s best for him. He also is smitten by the widow of one of the men in his company, a woman who has grandiose plans not only for him, but for his acreage and his grandmother.
A slight subplot concerns a helicopter pilot named Cooper who stops in Virgin River to go hunting with two friends. In the past, Cooper has had acrimonious dealings with Jack, the hero of the first Virgin River books, then after their minor spat is settled, Cooper leaves town. I wonder if Carr is setting readers up for Cooper’s story in the near future. I hope so since he seems a perfect guy to wrap one of her small town stories around.
Sunrise Point is neither the best nor the worst of the series, but stands as a nice momentary visit to an exquisite part of Northern California.