All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Shelter Mountain – Robyn Carr

on May 21, 2011

Shelter Mountain is the second novel in Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series that so far comprises about 10 or 11 novels and that I started reading very recently. In Virgin River, the first novel, we met Mel, midwife from LA looking for a quieter life in Virgin River, California. In that book she met the colourful locals and Preacher was one of those.

John “Preacher” Middleton is a war veteran who served under Jack Sheridan and ended up in Virgin River right alongside him. Preacher, a huge 6 foot 4 bear of a man is the cook in Jack’s bar which is pretty much the only place to get something to eat in the small town. He cooks whatever he feels like on the day – there’s no ordering off the menu here. Prices are cheap and loyalty is high. Preacher is solitary sort of man, not experienced with women, no family left other than Jack and his former Marine buddies.

He is about to close up the bar one night when a young woman and a small, 3yo boy come in, soaked to the skin and cold. He convinces them to stay for a bite to eat and a warm and reviving drink as the woman is clearly distressed and in a bit of a bad way. She has bruises on her face and a split lip and is thoroughly lost, heading somewhere she won’t divulge. Preacher offers her the room above the bar for a restorative night, especially as it looks like her son is running a fever. That way she can see Mel in the morning and get reassured all is okay before continuing on her way.

Paige is on the run. From a disastrous mistake of a marriage that she can stay in no longer. She has finally squirreled away enough money to go on the run, somewhere where they can help her get a new identity and go underground, hopefully for life. She doesn’t want to stay in this quiet town, no matter how remote and out of the way it is. Preacher is a big, frightening looking man and Paige, a battered woman, has every right to be wary of his sex. But she immediately senses that despite his intimidating size, Preacher is a soft and gentle person. And she finds herself listening to the assurances he gives her that she would be safe if she stayed here. That she would be protected.

Paige makes a choice – instead of running she will do things the right way. With Preacher and the town’s support and help she will serve her husband with an AVO and file for divorce. She knows that this will divulge her location to her husband but she needs to take a stand. She’s found a place where she could be really happy – and she doesn’t want her husband to destroy yet another thing in her life.

Wow. These books really aren’t for the faint of heart. I have to admit, I was pretty surprised about the content in this one. There was a sex scene between teenagers in the first novel that had me raising my eyebrows but this one contains a fair amount of violence. Paige is a battered woman, married to a man who has beat her from almost the beginning of their relationship. Only when he beats her when she is 8wks pregnant does she find the courage to leave him and go on the run. She wants to go to a shelter in Seattle that help women like her find new identities, but she gets lost off the highway and ends up in Virgin River. There are several uncomfortable scenes in this book including one of a late-term stillbirth that I really wouldn’t recommend reading if you are pregnant (like I am!). It’s not reassuring to read a such a confronting scene of a reasonless loss. There’s also two scenes of domestic violence/abuse that are pretty descriptive and Carr also spares no effort in making sure Paige’s injuries are painted in vivid detail.

It was infinitely more than I expected from this series, I think that even though the first one tackled several tough issues, this book definitely steps it up a notch and deals with some very confronting and real situations that all societies face, even tiny ones like Virgin River. I loved Preacher in book number 1 so I was pretty happy to discover that he was moving to front and centre in book number two. Whereas Jack is moreso typical of the sort of male love interest I expect in contemporary romance, Preacher is definitely a little bit different. He’s very quiet, shy, uncertain around women. He is immediately drawn to Paige, but he wants nothing more than to make her feel comfortable, to feel safe. Their romance is definitely one of the slower burns I’ve seen, but it’s really sweet. You’re clued in to Preacher’s feelings long before Paige’s, which makes sense, because of what she has gone through. I think that that part of the story was well done – you don’t want to see someone jumping straight into a new relationship minutes after getting out of an extremely abusive one, even if it has been a long while since there were feelings. There’s also some time devoted to establishing a good relationship between Preacher and Paige’s young son, although I would’ve liked to see a bit more personality from the child! I’m not sure he utters more than 2 words throughout the whole novel.

Once again I really loved the community feel and the introduction of more characters that you know are going to get their own books and also, revisit previous couples. We spent quite a bit of time with jack and Mel in this novel, which I enjoyed. I was supposed to pace myself with this series but I’ve already started #3, I have #4 and I’ve requested the next 3 from the library! I think I’m going to fail miserably at making these last!


Book #68 of 2011

One response to “Shelter Mountain – Robyn Carr

  1. Marg says:

    Preacher was so sweet in this book. This big hulking ex marine who has no idea how to deal with women.

    There was a lot of darkness in this book, but it is such an important issue. I was glad that Carr didn’t make it a superficial statement about domestic violence.

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