A moving story about survival, forgivenessand the power of love to heal a wounded spirit.
Marine corporal Rick Sudder is home early from Iraqhis tour ended abruptly on the battlefield. The carefree boy is gone, replaced by a man who believes his future is as bleak as his mirror image. But can the passion and commitment of a young woman who has never given up on him mend his broken body and shattered heart?
As the people of Virgin River rally around Rick, another recent arrival tests the tightly knit mountain town's famous welcoming spirit. Dan Brady has a questionable past, and he's looking for a place to start over. He'd like it to be Virgin River if he can find a way in. But he never expects to find it in the arms of a woman who was as much an outcast as himself.
For a favorite son returned from war and an outsider looking for a home, Virgin River offers them a chance to make peace with the men they once were and to find the dreams they thought they'd lost.
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Walt Booth was feeling lonely. He'd been widowed over five years ago when his kids were twenty-six and fourteen. Now that he was sixty-two, the kids were on their own. Vanessa was married to Paul and they lived on the property on the other side of the stable, and Tom had nearly completed his first year at West Point. Walt's niece, Shelby, had been staying with him, but during the February freeze she had left to vacation in Maui before pursuing her education in San Francisco.
But that only scratched the surface. He'd recently begun a relationship with his neighbor, a beautiful, vivacious, mischievous movie star just a few years younger than he was. Muriel St. Claire. Their liaison was just getting interesting, just heating up, when she was lured back to Hollywood to make another film. He was left with her two Labrador retrievers and her two horses. He'd had one phone call since she'd departed for L.A. via private jet, a call in which he had heard the background noise of a party. There was music, chatter, laughter, the clinking of glasses, and Muriel sounded on top of the world.
The truth of the matter was, he'd gone and fallen in love with her. She had trapped him by being nothing like his perception of a movie star. She'd come to Virgin River almost a year ago, moved into an old farmhouse with her animals and restored it, almost entirely by herself. He'd never seen her in anything but slacks, usually jeans and boots, often painter's overalls. She was a crackerjack horsewoman, an expert shot and was training her own bird dogs for hunting waterfowl. Earthy. Basic. Yet her wit was sophisticated and her beauty natural and unforgettable. And right now, while he sat by the window in his great room, scratching her dog behind the ear, she was making a movie with Jack Nicholson. The truth? He wondered if she'd come back.
His doorbell rang and he hefted himself up to answer it. Two weeks ago he'd felt like a sixteen-year-old boy, looking forward to seeing Muriel every day. Today he felt old and short on time.
He opened the door to Luke Riordan and frowned. This was just about the last person he'd like to see right now. Luke and Shelby had had a romance that didn't work out, which Walt suspected was her reason for leaving.
"Morning, General," Luke said with a slight nod. "Got a minute?"
"I guess," he said, standing back from the door.
"No thanks, sir," Luke said, stepping into the house. "It's just that- Well, I owe you an apology."
"That so?" Walt asked. He turned and walked back into the great room. The dogs spied Luke and immediately put the rush on him. Luce, the chocolate Lab, sat in front of him politely, but her tail wagged so violently it sent her whole body into a quiver, while Buff, less than a year old, lost all control and just barreled into him, jumping up and head butting for attention. "Buff! Down!" Walt admonished. It didn't do much good. The yellow Lab was pretty much out of control where visitors were concerned.
"Whoa," Luke laughed, grabbing the Lab behind the ears and sitting him down. "Got yourself some company here?"
"These are Muriel's dogs. She's out of town and I'm taking care of them."
"Out of town?" Luke asked, straightening.
Walt sat in his chair and clicked the dogs back to his side by snapping his fingers. He didn't volunteer any more information about Muriel's whereabouts. With a Lab on each side of him, he indicated the chair facing his. "Take a seat, Riordan. I'm anxious to hear about this apology."
Luke took his seat uneasily. "General Booth, sir, I'm the reason Shelby left a little over two weeks ago. I apologize, sir. She had every reason to think her future wasn't secure with me and she left."
Walt settled back. Shelby was twenty-five to Luke's thirty-eight and Walt had been concerned that his niece's involvement with this tough-edged Blackhawk pilot might end with her being hurt. "How does that not surprise me?" Walt said churlishly.
"I let her go, sir. I thought she might be better off.
I hated to think she'd bet everything on someone like me."
Walt smirked. He couldn't have put it better himself. "I should've just shot you," he said. "I gave it serious thought."
Luke couldn't suppress a huff of silent laughter. "I figured you did. Sir." Luke hadn't been out of the army quite long enough to relax about that rank thing. The general was a general till he died and was accorded appropriate respect, even when he acted like a son of a bitch and threatened Luke's life.
"You should be apologizing to her, not me," Walt said.
"I've taken care of that, sir. Unbelievably, I'm forgiven."
"You talked to her?"
"Yes, sir. She came back. She was pissed as hell, but I threw myself on her mercy and she's given me another chance. I plan to do better this time."
Walt's eyes had grown wide and his bushy black eyebrows shot up high. "She's back?"
"Yes, sir. She said to tell you she'd be right over. She had something to take care of and I wanted a word with you first."
"To apologize," Walt groused. "I'd like to see my niece, if you don't mind."
"She'll be here pretty soon. But there's another thing. I'd like your permission to ask Shelby to be my wife."
Walt ground his teeth. "You're really pressing your luck."
"Oh, you don't know the half." Luke chuckled before he could stop himself. "Almost thirty-nine years old and I'm buying into the whole program. It's not even one of her conditions-it's one of mine. General Booth, she's everything to me. I can't live without her. I thought I could and I tried, but it's too late for me. I'm in love with Shelby. I'm going to be in love with her for the rest of my life."
Walt was sitting straighter. He moved to the edge of his chair. "What about her education? What about a family? I think my niece wants a family and I heard you say that wasn't-"
"You probably heard me say a lot of things I thought I meant and didn't, sir. Shelby can have anything she wants, do anything she wants-I'll support her. I'm not going to waste her time, sir. If she'll marry me, I'll give her everything I have, go anywhere she needs me to go. She won't ever again leave my house thinking I don't care about her. That could have been the biggest mistake of my lifetime."
Walt smiled in spite of himself. "Learned your lesson, did you, boy?"
Luke didn't mind so much being called a boy by this military icon, but the truth hit him pretty hard. "Oh, man," he said, shaking his head. "You have no idea."
Walt leaned back. "I like seeing you humbled a little bit, Riordan. What if I withhold my permission?"
"Oh, I'll ask her anyway. I'll tell her you disapprove and ask her to overlook that. But I'd like to do this right, sir. I've made enough mistakes-I don't want to make one more."
"Hmm," Walt hummed. "I guess I can still be surprised ."
"I didn't figure you for intelligence."
Luke just shook his head. Well, this was no less than he deserved. He'd taken the general's niece into his bed, telling her he just wasn't the kind of man who could settle down. He used every rationalization he could think of to make that all right, but he knew all along that was going to be real tough for the general to swallow. He also knew if Shelby were his niece, he wouldn't have stood for it. Now Walt was obviously going to torture him for a while. Luke supposed it was his just due.
The front door opened and Shelby breezed in. Both men shot to their feet, but Luke got to her first, slipping an arm around her waist. "Take care of everything?" he asked quietly.
"Uh-huh," she said, smiling up at him. "I got off easy." Shelby had left Virgin River without saying goodbye to Luke's helper, Art. That in itself wasn't such a crime, but Art was a thirty-year-old man with Down syndrome and things like disappearing without an explanation or goodbye could seem like abandonment to him. "He wasn't angry with me-just worried."
Then she went to her uncle. "I'm sorry I didn't call and let you know I was coming back, Uncle Walt. I had business to take care of with Luke first."
Walt looked at her beautiful, shining face. Her hazel eyes glowed, her cheeks were flush with love. But looking at Shelby wasn't the startling part. One look at Luke told the rest of the story. Luke had always had that bad-boy edge, an aura of danger and a short fuse.
No more. All the rough edges had been ground down and his expression was docile as a puppy.
Walt just laughed as he pulled Shelby into his arms. He hugged her fiercely. "Shelby, Shelby," he said. He held her away from him and, grinning, he said, "Looks like you've tamed him. He doesn't have any fight left in him."
"Thank God," she said. "I don't think I could take much more. He's been a real handful. But Luke still needs a little work, so I'm going to be staying with him now. I'll be over to help you with the horses every day, just like always."
"That would be nice, honey," he said. "There are a lot of horses. Muriel's out of town and I've got the dogs and horses."
Shelby reached down and gave each Lab a little scratch. "Where is she?"
"She's gone back to Hollywood for a while. Going to make a movie."
"Really?" Shelby asked, grinning hugely, her eyes lighting up. "Wow. How awesome."
She would find that exciting news, Walt thought. He had told Muriel she had his devoted support in achieving everything her heart desired, but in fact he wasn't feeling real supportive. He was feeling jealous and lonely and out of sorts. And this news about Shelby and Luke just added to his misery.
He shook it off. "Luke?" he asked, looking at the man. When he had Luke's attention, Walt gave his chin a firm nod. And that was all it took to make Luke Riordan's eyes light up as though beacons shone from within.
At 1:00 a.m. the phone rang next to Walt's bed. He thought first of Shelby; she'd thrown her lot in with Luke and Walt hoped nothing had gone wrong. He thought next of Vanessa, Paul and little Matt, his grandson. Young Tom crossed his mind-but a middle-of-the-night phone call from West Point was highly unlikely.
"Walt?" came Muriel's voice before he could gather his wits and say hello. "Darling, I'm sorry-I know what time it is."
Darling? Did she call him darling? Oh, those Hollywood types probably called everyone darling. "It's all right," he said sleepily. "Are you okay?"
"Oh, I'm okay. This is honestly the first chance I've had to call in days. But it's not going to stay this crazy. I hope."
"What's going on?"
"Well, everything. The production company has been staging small parties in key places all over town, trying to create some preproduction buzz about the movie by having cast members show up. I've been researching the character, spending some time with the writer, rehearsing lines they'll only rewrite the second I have them down, looking at wardrobe and set sketches with the production designer, and generally going out to lunch, drinks, dinner, drinks, and talking till midnight. Then I fall into bed and sleep like a dead woman till 5:00 a.m. when I get up and jump on the treadmill."
He just shook his head in confusion. "What's the treadmill got to do with anything?"
She laughed. "I have to be in good shape. And I don't have the dogs or horses to help me do that. I hired my old trainer back to firm things up a bit. I know it doesn't sound like it, but I'm working my ass off."
"Well, stop going out for all those drinks and you'll feel better."
"I stick to club soda when I'm meeting with actors, producers, promoters, et cetera. They're not catching me with my pants down."
He smiled and felt instant shame for having baited her like that. And pride; she was a consummate professional-he should have known that. "That's my girl."
"Tell me what's going on there."
"Shelby came back," he said.
Silence answered him. "She did?" Muriel finally asked in a shocked breath.
"Yes, ma'am. And apparently Luke did enough groveling to satisfy her, because she's moved in with him. And this morning he paid me a visit, asked my permission to propose."
"Get out of town! Did you grant it?"
"No. I told him to go to hell. I should have just shot him. I told him that."
"Oh, you'd like me to believe you're that kind of bully, wouldn't you?"
"The silly girl seems to love him. And you should see him. Whipped into shape that fast. I bet if we pulled up his shirt, there would be lash marks all over his back. He's limp as a noodle."
"I bet he's not," she said with a laugh. "Well, good for Shelby. That maneuver never worked for me. When
I stomped off into the night, they just said, 'Okay, bah-bye.'"
"What's Jack Whatshisname like?"
"Are you ever going to say his last name?" she asked with a deep sigh.
"He's a nice man. Professional, punctual, talented, and very much enjoys the way people fall at his feet. And they should. He's got the gift. I like him. I think working with him again will be a good experience."
"Muriel," he said softly, "when are you coming home?"
Equally soft, she answered, "I don't know, Walt. And yes, I miss you."
Jack's bar was the place in Virgin River where the locals gathered. Not that everyone was there every night, but you could always count on seeing a friend there. There was a military backbone to this community since Jack Sheridan, a Marine who'd done his twenty, had opened the bar. Following him to the town was one of his best friends, John Middleton, known as Preacher, who was his partner and the cook at the bar. Next to arrive was Mike Valenzuela who'd served with Jack in Iraq twice and was now the town constable. Walt's son-in-law, Paul, was one of Jack's boys from way back and had also served with him twice. Even Luke Riordan, being ex-army, was welcomed into this brotherhood. It was the kind of place Walt felt he belonged.
Since Muriel had left, he'd been going low profile, generally fixing himself a little dinner at home by himself. Since talking with her for a while last night, he was feeling a little more secure about things and decided on Jack's for dinner. In fact, he got there a bit early, before the dinner crowd. The TV perched high in the corner was on so Jack and anyone who cared could keep up with the news, with the action in Iraq.
Jack was toting his son David in the backpack while he served. "General," he greeted. "Good to see you, sir. Been a while."
"I guess it has," Walt said, hopping up on a stool. "What do you hear from Iraq?"
"Rick writes at least every couple of weeks. He doesn't scare me, but CNN and Fox News make me shiver. There were just a couple of big bombings over there. Casualties on our side."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I already had this book on my nook but you put it out again with a new pub date and different cover so i buy it again thinking it's a new one. That's crap!
There are three substantive stories in this installment of the series. Rick Sudder is wounded in Iraq and returns a bitter and sullen young man, shunning all who care about him. Dan Brady shows up after having turned himself in and served his time. Paul Haggerty gives him a job on his construction crew as Dan makes a connection with Cheryl Creighton, the former town drunk who has completed rehab and is living a sober life. Dr. Cameron Michaels ends up in Virgin River after having a really brief affair with Vanni's friend Abby with unexpected consequences. Each story is compelling, especially Rick's as we have the opportunity to experience his sense of loss and frustration after returning home disabled. There are several surprising turns and so many of the residents we've come to know appear in these stories. It's what makes the series special and this book delivers. While some of the outcomes are predictable, the spirit of the town and its community continue to be the draw for this series. I'm hopelessly stuck in this town and am on to the next book.
Robyn Carr is very good at character development. I enjoy reading books that are part of a series because when I enjoy one I am never ready for it to end. I am on book number 9 and plan to finish the series.
I love this series!!! i've tried to read them in order, but it doesn't always work out. i like how each book has multiple story lines besides the main line and that in the following books there is a continuation of those stories. when you read alot of the books in order you get a better feel of the characters instead of them just ending. there is lasting love and devotion between all the characters and you get a great feeling of the town developing. each story makes me cry and laugh....how much better can you get!
The covers of Robyn Carr's books speak of the lovely stories found inside. Each one is an adventure of love, family, and a message not soon forgotten.
I have to visit Virgin River a couple times a month. Loved how this book had three major storylines. :)
I have read all the Virgin River series and love them all. I haven't decided which one is my favorite they are all so touching. She really knows how to develop her characters and keep the readers attention. I think it is best to read them in order as the characters develop and are added to the series.
Excellent series and looking forward to the next one.... Forbidden Falls!! Recommend Highly!!!!
If you have read my other.reviews yoi know I enjpy this series. This one is no different. If you have enjoyed the others,you will like this one too.
This book was wonderful. Every single book in this series is wonderful. I love the way Robyn Carr carries over the characters from book to book so that you always know what's going on with them. It's like they are alive. She makes them so real you find yourself wondering, when you aren't reading about them, what they are doing!
Her stories have a very good flow to them. I have now read all the Virgin River Series and a few of her other books. Enjoyed all of them.
Great books, good read
Each book gets better and better.
Robyn Carr is a great author. She writes engaging books where the people become friends. I can't wait to get to the next one!
The most boring in the series so farRick is wounded in Iraq and pushes Liz, Jack and all the others who care about him away. Walt and Muriel yet again bore me to tears. Abby and Cameron proceed with their relationship, but after their exciting beginning in a previous book, leave me disappointed. There are irrelevant tangents that should have been edited out.This book really drags in a lot of places. With each new addition to the series, Robyn Carr seems to devote more and more time to talking about home renovations. And I¿m sorry, but that¿s just too boring to fill half a novel. She goes into so much detail about every aspect of every house, and what is going to be done to change it, I did a lot of skim reading. Those are pages that would be better off filled with plot of some sort.I¿m not entirely sure why Carr¿s editor lets her get away with her poor plotting and structure time and time again. The first couple of chapters of this book belonged in the book preceding it. They featured characters who starred in Temptation Ridge ¿ characters who had nothing to do with the main story in Paradise Valley. The fact this is a series does not excuse the way the author so blatantly runs one book into the next. Series or no series, each book should be able to hold up on its own, and this one does not. And, yet again, she finished the story featuring the wrong characters.I¿ve never been much of a fan of Rick and Liz. Rick is a Gary Stu to Mel¿s Mary Sue, and I¿ve never been all that interested in reading a book featuring him. Though it is officially Rick and Liz¿s book, they aren¿t in it very much, and when they are the scenes are repetitious and uninteresting.One thing that left me very perplexed was Mel¿s reaction to Rick¿s injuries. When she found out, she really didn¿t seem to care. Her reaction was so cold, unemotional; I couldn¿t figure out what was going on. Mel has always been a bit of a Mary Sue. Everybody loves her and all the men think she¿s beautiful and perfect. But in the end she¿s an extremely forceful, self-righteous character. I really want to like her more, but nobody ever calls her out on her behaviour.And then Dan went and turned into Doctor Phil, and it occurred to me just how impossible this author finds it to write realistic characters. Everyone is perfect. They¿re all kind and helpful and the men are so effeminate it is obvious they are written the way a weak woman might fantasise men would act. They speak with a woman¿s voice ¿ no real men are like Virgin River men.The Walt/Muriel storyline still bores me, and all the real-life celebrity name-dropping that comes with the fact Muriel is a movie star is still stupid. This couple is just so¿blah¿by the end I was skimming their parts, and found I didn¿t miss out on much.This book was just boring for me. I tried really hard to get into it, but there wasn¿t anything to hold my interest, and I skimmed over much of it. Carr¿s strength is definitely NOT plotting ¿ her books never have much of interest going on. What she¿s good at is characterisation, but even that fell flat in this edition.There are babies everywhere again. If there¿s anything you want to know about pregnancy, you¿re better off reading this series than something from the bookstore¿s health section! It¿s very telling that the author thanks her midwife consultant first in the acknowledgement section of every book. Shows her priorities are far more on the baby part rather than the love part. To me, paragraphs about medicine and pregnancy complications just aren¿t fun. And, the author¿s prejudices are front and centre yet again. Even though this time a character goes to hospital to deliver, she¿s too late for an epidural. In Robyn Carr¿s world, all women want natural homebirths. All breastfeed. All want seven thousand people present when they give birth. Everything is always the same. And this couple¿s story ended the moment they had babies. In the Virgin River world everyone¿s stories always end the moment t
Love, Loved this book. Loved Ricky from earlier books wanted to find out how he and Liz have grown and how they would get through this. I was so mad at him by the end, until he realized that he was treating her so bad and HE needed HER. I surprised that it took Dan to make him realize how he was treating all his loved ones. I was personally not that interested in Walt/Muriel's relationship, but was glad to see Abby and Cameron progress a little. Great book!
Another solid installment in the Virgin River series. Paradise Valley is more about the town and community of Virgin River than any one romance, although it does center around four couples -- Liz and Rick, Abby and Cameron, Dan and Cheryl, and Muriel and Walt. The theme of the Paradise Valley was one about rebuilding from a damaged background ¿ Dan and Cheryl are coming back from some painful experiences and Rick is back in California recovering from a war injury. A credit to Robyn Carr, the characters do not easily bounce back. Instead there is struggle and while the book ends with hope, it is clear the characters are due for more work in their individual futures. There are a few births of babies, some sweet Mel and Jack scenes and not quite as much good eating as in the other books. Paradise Valley definitely needs to be read in order and not as a standalone. It may not be the best book in the series but it is very enjoyable, satisfying and has all the wonderful and typical ingredients of a Virgin River novel.
Thoroughly enjoying the Virgin River series.
Next res faith and max.
She walked in with a sigh
She coninued to sleep.