I love small towns. I've lived in the same small town my entire life and it's even smaller (less than 400 people) than Virgin River! There's a comfort that comes in knowing your neighbors, seeing the same faces every day, knowing these people will have your back if you meet trouble, and there's always trouble to be found -- even in a small town. So, my love of rural America is what led me to read this popular series by Robyn Carr.
I had a real hard time getting in the mindset that this book was, in fact, set in modern times. Mel wears $450 boots, $150 jeans, gets $300 highlights, and loves Starbucks. Despite all that, I kept feeling like I was watching an episode of "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman"! In my opinion, the author went too far trying to develop a small town atmosphere. I know they were in the mountains, zero cell reception, and it would have to take a while to get into town, but everything just seemed outdated. Even rural clinics are equip for all kinds of things these days.
Also leading to this old-fashioned vibe, was our perfect hero, Jack. I liked Jack. What's not to like? He's a tough-guy, decorated, ex-Marine with a good ol' boy attitude. Problem was, he was too perfect and he didn't act like a tough-guy, decorated, ex-Marine even with the good ol' boy attitude. The man said "fanny" and "frickin'".
I found it increasingly difficult to like Mel the further I got into the story. Her grief was spot-on considering it'd only been a year since her husband's death, and this carried on until the last 50 or so pages. Because of this, I spent the majority of the book feeling bad for Jack who was falling for a woman who considered herself someone else's. The first time they had sex, I couldn't see it happening like that it was the 1-year anniversary of her husband's death, she'd broken down into a soul-cleansing sob that lasted at least 1/2 hr, he took care of her, and then she invited him to bed with her. I really couldn't grasp what he was thinking when he crawled in that bed. He just seemed like he didn't mind settling for whatever she would give him. I don't know about you guys, but I want my H/h to have a connection, and other than a great friendship (with some added benefits) I never really saw that between Jack and Mel.
It wasn't only the H/h that didn't do it for me, the rest of the townsfolk didn't either. These characters had no interesting character traits. I didn't really care much about these people and I blame it completely on the writer's habit of "telling" instead of "showing." She switched tenses a lot and it became so irritating I skimmed throughout the last half of the book. By then, I'd already guessed everything that would happen and was so bored with the writing and the predictability of the story-line that I couldn't wait for it to be over.
Overall, I was really shocked by my feelings towards this book. With so many amazing reviews/ratings, I fully expected to enjoy it. Her writing style just didn't cut it for me, and I'm uncertain if I'll continue the series. If I do, they won't be top-priority on my reading list. However, the only character in the entire bunch that stood out for me was Jack's friend, Preacher, and I would like to read his story sometime.
• 2½ Stars!