hiddensummit He needs to get out of town so the murderer he is testifying against doesn’t get the chance to kill him too. She needs to get out of town so she doesn’t have to trip over her ex and his blushing bride everywhere she goes. When they both land in Virgin River the scene is set for love.

Hidden Summit is the 17th book in the popular Virgin River series. When we begin the story we join Brie Valenzuela (from Whispering Rock) as she meets a tall dark stranger in a frou-frou coffee shop out of town. No, she isn’t cheating on Mike, but she is meeting another man. Conner Danson is the sole witness to a crime and it is clear the man he is testifying against will go to any lengths to keep him from testifying. He has already burned Conner’s business down to the ground and made threats against his widowed sister and her boys. The end result is forced relocation for Conner, and Virgin River, remote and with a small population, seems like the ideal place to hide. Brie, a former ADA, is Conner’s bridge to a whole new life. Conner’s not happy about the situation but he is determined to see this thing through to the end. He heads up to the hills and goes to work for Haggerty Construction.

Leslie Petruso’s ex-husband seems determined to kill her – with kindness. Even though he cheated on her, robbed her of her half of the communal property and left her heart in tattered pieces, he expects them to be the best of buds. He has done such a good job of painting himself as an angel that even her parents think she should just forgive and forget. Anxious to get away from it all, Leslie takes a job with her old friend Paul Haggerty (Second Chance Pass) and moves to Virgin River. There, she hopes to find a place to heal and get to know what life is like on her own. She doesn’t think she will ever be able to love or trust again. Then she meets Conner.

Maggie Leigh, I know you’ve been a fan of the Virgin River books from the beginning. What did you think of this latest installment in the series?

Leigh: My initial impression was very favorable. I like Connor. He is especially appealing because while he is very disgruntled at being re-located, most of it has to do with his sister. She is a widow, and the mother of young twin boys and Connor is very much a male role model for them. Leslie is one of my favorite sort of heroines – a capable woman that knows how to handle herself. While she is the office manager/secretary, she demands respect from the men on the construction site. Her professionalism impressed me along with the fact that she made twenty plus men put the toilet seat down even though she is way outnumbered. The plot seems feasible too since Virgin River seems a perfect place to hide out. What is your take on the beginning of the book?

Maggie: I found the premise very believable. Both characters had good reason to be in Virgin River. My reaction to the two leads was different than yours. I felt like Conner’s relationship with his sister bordered on unhealthy. They were so much a family unit of mom, kids and uncle (filling in dad’s spot) that there was no place for either of them to have a husband or wife. The neediness on his sister’s part also felt a touch unreal. Someone married to a military man needs to be very independent. They will find themselves alone for good chunks of time, so they need to be able to keep the family going under those conditions. It sounded to me a bit like she didn’t have the skills to do that. Add to that that my skepticism kicking in related to the very self-sacrificing nature of the relationship on Conner’s part and you have a very unimpressed me.

Leslie I could take or leave. Her response to Conner’s assumption that she was having a relationship with the boss (based on circumstantial but solid evidence) struck me as a tad harsh. I couldn’t quite warm up to her but I had no real complaints about her either. Her reaction to her conversation with Allison at the end of the book also seemed a bit odd to me – but then the Greg situation seemed a bit odd to me so I guess that is to be expected.

Two things I did like about the book were that the Virgin River regulars seemed to play a relatively small part and that the focus was on the main couple, There have been books where I felt like Mel and Jack or other characters kept the attention away from the new romance, but not in this one. Did you feel like the relationship was central? Or did you miss the “regulars”?

Leigh: I agree with you that the relationship between the heroine and hero was central to the book. Plus I enjoyed seeing more of Brie, one of my favorite characters. I didn’t think that the relationship between the two siblings was unhealthy at all. I could understand Connor’s hesitation about jumping back in the relationship pool after his failed marriage. And while Connor’s sister Katie had had a wonderful relationship with her husband, taking care of her two young children and helping out at the family store didn’t leave any time for dating. My problem with the book didn’t occur until Conner and Leslie became a couple. The love making scenes and the unfolding of the relationship reminded me a lot of Wild Man Creek.

Maggie: That is an interesting point about recycling plots. I think with this being book seventeen it is likely that we will start to see “repeats’ within this series. The book did contain a repeat I was absolutely thrilled with though. Did you catch the visiting character from A Summer in Sonoma? He has to be one of my favorite Carr characters ever and having him cross over to the Virgin River books is a treat. I hope he becomes a regular guest appearance!

Leigh: Oh, yes it was wonderful seeing that character again and he does show up in the next book, too. I do have to commend Ms. Carr because I feel for the most part the quality of the books have been good. Reading seventeen books in a series is a record for me. I am not ready to quit Virgin River, but I am ready for her to do a stand- alone book. It looks like her next two releases, Redwood Bend (Katie’s story) and Sunrise Point (Nora Crane’s story – young mother with two children introduced in Bring Me Home for Christmas) are part of the Virgin River series, though. The first part of this book was a B for me, and the second part was more in the C range. So overall I would probably give this book a B-. What is your grade?

Maggie: My grade is probably around a C+ or C. I had a lot of struggles with the book, from the perfection of small town living reflected in Virgin River to some minor complaints with the characters that kept me from loving it. Still, I think fans of the series will find enough to enjoy here to keep them going.

– Leigh Davis and Maggie Boyd

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I enjoy spending as much time as I can between the covers of a book, traveling through time and around the world. When I'm not having adventures with fictional characters, I'm an attorney in Virginia and I love just hanging out with my husband, little man, and the cat who rules our house.