The Wanderer (Thunder Point #1)
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
Former Army helicopter pilot Hank Cooper is heading to Thunder Point on the rocky Oregon coast. Hank has never been a man for putting down roots – when he wasn’t on a job as pilot, he lived out of a fifth wheeler, towing his toys around and being free. He kept loosely in touch with some old Army mates including his mechanic Ben, who lived in Thunder Point. When news of Ben’s death reached Hank, along with word that Ben had left something for him, Hank thought it his duty to see his friend right.
Ben ran a bait shop that doubled as a bar with cheap drinks and food – it’s definitely not a flash building and even though Ben owned the land around it it’s clear that he was cash poor. Hank is stunned to discover that not only has Ben left him the bar/bait shop but also the extensive land around it with a note that he knows Hank will know what to do. Hank doesn’t want to put down roots and there are no jobs for a helicopter pilot in Thunder Point but he knows that Ben would not have wanted him to just sell up and get the hell out. The land is in a prime location, right on the cliff with its own private beach and would net a tidy sum but Ben kept it for a reason.
Sarah Dupre has devoted so much of her life to raising her younger brother. Still mourning her recent marriage break up, she is definitely not looking for anything. And at first when she meets Hank Cooper, she’s suspicious of him and his motives towards her younger brother even though she realises quickly that he’s just looking out for Landon. She’s determined to avoid any kind of involvement with Cooper, even though he’s made his interest rather clear. But Sarah hasn’t forgotten what it’s like to have someone there at the end of your day, to spend time with, to wind down with. And even though she’s complicated and still feeling the scars of her marriage breakdown, what Cooper is offering is hard to resist.
Cooper only ever meant for Thunder Point to be a temporary stop on his itinerary. He can’t be out of work forever and he’s always been the type that kept moving. But the longer he stays in this beautiful little town, the more time he spends unravelling its secrets and what really happened to Ben, the more he realises that he has a choice – to move on and resume his old life or to stay and embrace a new one.
The Wanderer is the first in Robyn Carr’s new series of Thunder Point which has spun off very loosely from her Virgin River series. Hank makes an appearance in one of the novels (he’s a former Army buddy of Luke Riordan’s) but my memory on him was very fuzzy and you definitely don’t need to have read the VR books to read this one. For those who have though, there’s a very familiar feel to this book – it’s like an old friend, almost like a reread but with new people to get to know.
Hank is in Thunder Point to settle some business that his old Army friend Ben left him and he finds himself feeling obliged to stay and see things done to rights for Ben. It’s clear that he had a lot of respect for Ben and even though they weren’t close in the physically catching up sense, they kept in regular contact via email. Hank (or Cooper, as he is commonly called) begins to find his way around the town, making friends with the local Deputy Sheriff Mac and a young kid at the high school named Landon, a football star who is being bullied by others on the team. He finds himself putting down roots without even realising it, especially when he meets Landon’s older sister Sarah. Neither of them are looking for commitment and both of them almost trip over themselves trying to assert that this is just temporary and no one will get hurt because it’s just casual and they all know the score up front.
There are some nice secondary romances running through this novel, in Carr’s way – that of the Deputy and a local single mother and also the teenage Landon. Thunder Point is bigger than Virgin River, so there’s a lot more focus on the town – the local diner and bar/restaurant, the high school and their football team as well as Ben’s place, which is sure to become a real icon of the town. There’s an emphasis on the community and how they are protected from a lot of the tourist resorts and can keep that small town feel (but how the threat can loom in the background, ready to come front and center if necessary). I can see the potential for this to really grow as a series and expand with the town itself. There’s a different feel to the Virgin River books in a way – the issues feel less confronting, less dominant and more contemporary. The obvious one in this novel was bullying but it didn’t take over the story. Carr does well balancing Cooper’s story, Mac’s story and Landon’s story.
All in all, this was a promising start to a new series and one that I think I’m going to enjoy a lot. I think it will appeal to a lot of Robyn Carr’s fans and hook her some new ones as well. The good thing is with Robyn Carr, you know you never have to wait too long for the next book – the second Thunder Point novel is currently scheduled for release in June of 2013 and the 3rd in September.
Book #80 of 2013
Now I’m happy to welcome Robyn to my blog where she’s helpfully answered a few questions about her most recent novel, the first in the Thunder Point series.
Q: What would you tell someone who is coming to Thunder Point for the first time? What do you want them to know about the town as they jump into The Wanderer?
A: My husband and I have moved around a lot, thanks to his years in the Air Force and commercial aviation. Have you ever had the experience of living somewhere that just didn’t feel like your town? Or, conversely, landing somewhere that made you think you were meant to be there? When we drove from Texas to Sacramento and crossed over the Sierras into the Sacramento Valley, I remember thinking, Ahhhh, I’m a Californian! I never realized! I was instantly comfortable with the landscape, the people, the climate.
Hank Cooper has always been a wanderer. He’d lived and worked in a lot of beautiful and interesting places, but there’s something about this small coastal town and the people there that just hook him and make him think for the first time in his adult life, Maybe I’m home.
Q: You’ve always been known for your strong female characters. The women in Thunder Point are no strangers to struggle, and we can already tell there are going to be some great stories coming from them! Why do you feel strong women are so important in your books?
A: Well, they’re role models. They’re admirable, which doesn’t mean perfect, it only means they’re indomitable and courageous and hopeful. They’re basically good, intelligent, optimistic people. They’re the kind of people I personally want to read about—I’m not real big on weak, weary, insipid characters who are older than five. None of us can escape struggle—it’s part of life. But whether we face it with determination and optimism or cringing weakness and fear makes all the difference in the outcome.
Q: Readers fall in love with your male characters. Hank Cooper, aka Cooper, (from Robyn’s bestselling Virgin River series) is especially dreamy… Is there an actor who you would like to see play his role if the series was ever turned into a movie?
A: I don’t know the names of the younger actors very well, but James Denton seems to fit the profile.
Q: The Wanderer has an element of mystery with the death of Cooper’s friend. (Don’t worry—we won’t give any spoilers!) Do you like writing suspense? Do you think we’ll see more suspense with the other books in the series?
A: I don’t actually think of that as suspense. Suspense is when you imagine you’re being chased by a guy with a bloody knife. Nor do I think of it as mystery even though there is a mysterious element. I think of it more as unanswered questions and a very obvious element of surprise coming. It’s also suspenseful, in a way, waiting for the results of a biopsy or worrying about how the new kid at school will be received—with rejection or welcome? But I think of those issues, the dramatic problems of daily life, and they’re quite mainstream, which means the average person will relate on some level—it either happened in their family, their neighborhood or their town. That’s the grist of a small-town drama. Whether the problems are large or small, there are conflicts to resolve and in doing so, the characters become more defined. I hope this mirrors life —as we live and learn, come to terms with our personal issues and life in general, we are a compilation of stories to be told.
Thanks to the publisher and Little Bird Publicity, I have one copy of The Wanderer to giveaway. This giveaway is restricted to US residents only, please fill in the form to enter!