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A Virgin River Christmas (Virgin River Series #4)

A Virgin River Christmas (Virgin River Series #4)

4.2 173
by Robyn Carr

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Last Christmas Marcie Sullivan said a final goodbye to her husband, Bobby. This Christmas she's come to Virgin River to find the man who saved his life and gave her three more years to love him.

Fellow marine Ian Buchanan dragged Bobby's shattered body onto a medical transport in Fallujah four years ago, then disappeared as soon as their unit arrived stateside.


Last Christmas Marcie Sullivan said a final goodbye to her husband, Bobby. This Christmas she's come to Virgin River to find the man who saved his life and gave her three more years to love him.

Fellow marine Ian Buchanan dragged Bobby's shattered body onto a medical transport in Fallujah four years ago, then disappeared as soon as their unit arrived stateside. Since then, Marcie's letters to Ian have gone unanswered.

Marcie tracks Ian to the tiny mountain town of Virgin River and finds a man as wounded emotionally as Bobby was physically. But she is not easily scared off. As Marcie pushes her way into his rugged and reclusive life, she discovers a sweet but damaged soul beneath a rough exterior.

Ian doesn't know what to make of the determined young widow who forces him to look into the painful past and, what's worse, the uncertain future. But it is, after all, a season of miracles and maybe, just maybe, it's time to banish the ghosts and open his heart.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

On a mission to find the elusive marine who saved her gravely wounded husband in Iraq, Marcie Sullivan, now widowed, finally locates Ian Buchanan in an isolated cabin near Virgin River in the Northern California mountains. Guilt-ridden and emotionally scarred, Ian doesn't need a reminder that he rescued his best friend only to see him waste away in a coma. But Marcie needs closure as much as Ian needs healing. When a bout of the flu keeps Marcie at the rustic cabin longer than she intended, the barriers begin to fall, bringing new hope-and unexpected love. A cameo to Carr's "Virgin River" series (set just before Christmas in the third book, Whispering Rock), this touching holiday tale is laced with laughter and tears and delivered with an emotional intensity that will charm both new readers and series fans. Carr lives in Las Vegas, NV.

—Kristin Ramsdell
From the Publisher

"The Virgin River books are so compelling-I instantly connected with the characters."

-#1 New York Times bestselling author

Debbie Macomber

"This book is an utter delight."

-RT Book Reviews on Moonlight Road

"Carr has hit her stride with this captivating series."
-Library Journal on the Virgin River series

"An intensely satisfying read. By turns humorous and gut-wrenchingly emotional, it won't soon be forgotten."
-RT Book Reviews on Paradise Valley

Product Details

Mira Books
Publication date:
Virgin River Series , #4

Read an Excerpt

Marcie Sullivan drove into the small town, her sixth small mountain town of the day, and found herself face-to-face with a Christmas-tree trimming. The assembled staff didn't look big enough for the job—the tree was enormous.

She pulled up beside a large cabin with a wide porch, parked her Volkswagen and got out. There were three women at work on a Christmas fir that stood about thirty feet. One was about Marcie's age, with soft brown hair and she held an open box, perhaps containing ornaments. One woman was old, with springy white hair and black-framed glasses, who pointed upward, as if someone had put her in charge, and the third was a beautiful blonde at the top of a tall, A-frame ladder.

The tree stood between the cabin and an old boarded-up church with two tall steeples and one stained-glass window still intact—a church that must have once been a beautiful structure.

While Marcie watched the trimming, a man came out onto the cabin's porch, stopped, looked up and cursed, then took long strides to the base of the ladder. "Don't move. Don't breathe," he said in a low, commanding voice. He took the rungs every other one, climbing quickly until he reached the blonde. Then he slipped an arm around her, somewhere above what Marcie realized must be a little pregnant bulge and beneath her breasts and said, "Down. Slowly."

"Jack!" she scolded. "Leave me alone!"

"If I have to, I'll carry you down. Back down the ladder, slowly. Now."

"Oh for God's—"

"Now," he said evenly, fiercely.

She began to descend, one rung at a time between his big, sturdy feet, while he held her safe against him. When they got to the bottom, she put her hands on her hips and glared up at him. "I knew exactly what I was doing!"

"Where is your brain? What if you fell from that height?"

"It's an excellent ladder! I wasn't going to fall!"

"You're psychic, too? You can argue all you want, I'm not letting you that high up a ladder in your condition," he said, his hands also on his hips. "I'll stand guard over you if I have to." Then he looked over his shoulder at the other two women.

"I told her I thought you wouldn't like that," the brown-haired one said with a helpless shrug.

He glared at the white-haired woman. "I don't get into domestic things. That's your problem, not mine," she said, pushing her big glasses up on her nose.

And Marcie became homesick. So homesick. It had only been a few weeks that she'd been driving around this area, but she missed all the family squabbles, the tiresome complications. She missed her girlfriends, her job. She longed for her bossy older sister's interference, her goofy younger brother and whatever current girlfriend was shadowing him. She missed her late husband's large, fun, passionate family.

She hadn't made it home for Thanksgiving—she'd been afraid to go for even a day or two, afraid she'd never pry herself out of Erin's grip a second time. Home was Chico, California, just a few hours away, but no one—not her brother and sister, not Bobby's family—thought what she was doing a good idea. So, she'd been calling, lying and saying she had tips about Ian and was close to finding him. Every time she called, at least every other day, she said she was getting closer when really, she wasn't. But she was not ready to quit.

But one problem was looming large—she was just about out of money. She'd been sleeping in her car lately rather than in motels, and it was getting uncomfortable as the temperatures dropped in the mountains. At any moment snow would be falling now that it was early December, or rain could turn to sleet and that little VeeDub could sail off the mountainside like a missile.

She'd just hate to go home with this mission incomplete. More than anything, she wanted to see it through. If she wasn't successful now, she'd only go home to earn a little money and then do it all again. She just couldn't give up on him. On herself.

They were all looking at her. She pushed her wildly curly, out of control, bright red hair over one shoulder nervously.

"I… Ah… I could go up there, if you want. I'm not afraid of heights or anything…"

"You don't have to go up the ladder," the pregnant blonde said, and her voice had softened considerably. She smiled sweetly.

"I'll go up the ladder," the man said. "Or I'll get someone to go up the goddamn ladder, but it's not you."

"Jack! Be polite!"

He cleared his throat. "Don't worry about the ladder," he said more calmly. "Anything we can do for you?"

"I. Ah." She walked toward them. She pulled a picture out of the inside of her down vest and extended it toward the man. "I'm looking for someone. He dropped out of sight just over three years ago, but I know he's around here somewhere. He seems to be taking mail at Fortuna Post Office general delivery."

She passed the picture to the man. "Jesus," he said.

"You know him?" she asked hopefully.

"No," he said, shaking his head. "No, I don't, and that's strange. The guy's a marine," he said, studying the picture of a man in uniform. It was Ian's official Marine Corps portrait, a handsome man all clean shaven and trussed up in dress blues, hat and medals. "I can't believe there's a marine within fifty miles of here I don't at least know about."

"He might be keeping that fact to himself—he and the Marine Corps had a troubled relationship at the end.

So I've heard."

He looked back at her face and his expression was much more tender. "I'm Jack Sheridan," he said. "My wife, Mel. That's Paige," he said, nodding toward the younger woman. "And Hope McCrea, town busybody." He put out his hand to Marcie.

She placed hers in his. "Marcie Sullivan," she said.

"Why are you looking for this marine?" Jack asked.

"Long story," she said. "A friend of my late husband. I'm sure he doesn't look like this anymore—he had some injuries. There's a scar down his left cheek and on that same side, no eyebrow. And he probably has a beard. He did the last time he was seen, about three or four years ago."

"No shortage of beards around here," Jack said. "Lumber country—men get a little scruffy-looking sometimes."

"But he could've changed in other ways, too. Like—he's older. Thirty-five now—that picture was taken when he was twenty-eight."

"Friend of your husband's? From the Corps?" Jack confirmed.

"Yes," she said. "I'd like to find him. You know—because he's been out of touch for a long time."

Jack seemed to think while he studied the face in the picture. It was several silent moments before he said, "Come on into the bar. Have a bite, a beer maybe, or whatever you like. Tell me a little about him and why you want to find him. How's that?"

"The bar?" she said, looking around.

"It's a bar and grill," he said with a smile. "Food and drink. We can eat and talk."

"Oh," she said. Her stomach growled angrily. It was late in the day, about four o'clock, and she hadn't eaten yet, but she was saving her money for the gas tank and she figured she could forget about food a while longer. Maybe she'd get something real, real cheap to tide her over, like a loaf of day-old bread to go with that half a jar of peanut butter in the car…. Then, she'd find a safe spot to park and button down for the night. "A glass of water would be really welcome—I've been driving around for hours, showing his picture to anyone who will take a look. But I'm not hungry."

"Got lots of water," Jack said with a smile. He put a hand on her shoulder and started to direct her toward the porch of the bar, but then he stopped suddenly. His brows drew together in a frown. "Go ahead," he said to her. "I'm right behind you."

Marcie walked up on the porch and turned to see what he was doing. He was confiscating the ladder so his pregnant wife wouldn't climb it again, that's what he was doing. It was a jackknife kind of affair that could be a short or tall A-frame ladder, and he collapsed it, folded it up until he could lift it with one hand. It was about six feet long dismantled and he carried it right into the bar. Behind him, Marcie heard his wife yell, "You're a bossy pain in the ass! When did I ever indicate I'd take my orders from you?"

Jack didn't say anything back, but he grinned as though she'd just thrown him a kiss. "Hop up there," he said to Marcie, indicating the bar. "I'll be right back." And he carried the ladder through a door behind the bar.

She took a deep breath and thought, Oh hell—I'm not going to be able to survive the aromas! Her stomach made itself heard again and she put a hand against her belly, pushing. Something in the kitchen was sending out waves of delicious smells—something simmering, rich, hot and thick, like beefy, seasoned soup; fresh bread; something sweet and chocolate.

And when the man named Jack came back, he was carrying a tray with a steaming bowl on it. He put everything in front of her; chili, corn bread and honey butter, a small bowl of salad. "Gee, um, sorry," she said. "Really, I'm not hungry…"

He drew a cold draft and her mouth actually watered. Gratefully she didn't drool on the bar. She swallowed hard. She had about thirty bucks and didn't want to waste it on a fancy meal, not when she needed every cent for gas to hit all these little mountain towns.

"Fine, then you'll only eat what you want," he said. "Just have a taste. I showed the picture to Preacher, my cook. He hasn't seen the guy either. We'll check with Mike—he's the town cop and gets around all the back roads, just to know who's out there—maybe he'll have a tip or two. They're also marines."

"Where exactly am I?" she asked.

"Virgin River," he said. "Population six hundred twenty-seven at last count."

"Ah, that made the map."

"I should hope so—we're a screaming metropolis compared to a lot of small towns out here. Just try it," he said, nodding at the bowl.

Her hand trembled a little as she picked up the spoon and sampled some of the finest chili she'd ever eaten. It melted in her mouth, and she actually sighed.

"Made with venison," he said. "We got a nice buck a couple months ago and when that happens, we have some of the best chili, stew, burgers and sausage in the world, for months." He patted a big jar of jerky that rested on the bar. "Preacher makes some unbelievable venison jerky, too."

Her eyes watered—the food was so good. Despite all her promises to Erin and Drew, she hadn't been eating well or playing it carefully, scrimping on food and sleeping in the car. When Erin saw the way her jeans were hanging off her little frame, the shit was going to hit the fan.

"Want to tell me a little about our guy, between bites?" Jack asked.

Oh, what the hell, Marcie thought. She hadn't had a really good hot meal in days, and once she was out of money there would be no choice but to go home. She'd just have to spend a little of that money, maybe leave the mountains a day earlier than she wanted to. She had to eat, for God's sake! Couldn't hardly perform a manhunt without food!

She took a couple of quick bites to beat back the worst of her ravenous hunger, then a sip of that icy beer to wash it down. It was heaven, pure heaven. "His name's Ian Buchanan. We came from the same town, but didn't know each other growing up, even though Chico's small—only about fifty thousand. Ian's eight years older than we are. Were. My husband and I, we grew up together, went through high school together and got married real young, at nineteen. Bobby went into the Marine Corps right out of high school."

"So did I," Jack said. "Did twenty. What was your husband's name?"

"Bobby Sullivan. Robert Wilson Sullivan. Any chance.?"

"I don't recall a Bobby Sullivan or an Ian Buchanan. Got a picture of your husband?"

She reached into her vest pocket and pulled out a wallet, flipped it open and turned it to face Jack. There were several pictures in the clear plastic sleeves. She ate while Jack flipped through—the nineteen-year-olds' wedding picture, Bobby's official Marine Corps portrait—a fine-looking young man, a beautiful man. There were a couple of casual shots showing off his strong profile, powerful shoulders and arms, and then the last one—Bobby, almost unrecognizable, thin, gaunt, pale, eyes open but unfocused, in a raised hospital bed, Marcie sitting beside him, cradling his head against her shoulder, smiling.

Jack lifted his gaze from the pictures and looked at her solemnly. She put the spoon in the chili and patted her lips with the napkin. "He went over to Iraq in the first wave," she said. "He was twenty-two. Twenty-three when he was wounded. Spinal cord injury and brain damage. He spent over three years like that."

"Aw, kid," Jack said, his strong voice weak. "Must'a been awful hard."

She blinked a few times, but her eyes didn't tear up. Yeah, there were times it was terrible, times it was heartbreaking, even times she resented the hell out of what the Marine Corps left her to deal with at her young age. There were also times she'd lie beside him in bed, pull him into her arms, press her lips against his cheek and just hold them there, remembering. "Yeah, sometimes," she answered. "We got by. There was a lot of support. My family and his family. I wasn't in it all alone." She swallowed. "He didn't seem to be in pain."

"When did he pass?" Jack asked.

"Almost a year ago, right before Christmas. Quietly. Very quietly."

"My condolences," Jack said.

"Thank you. He served with Ian. Ian was his sergeant. Bobby loved him. He wrote me about him all the time, called him the best sergeant in the Corps. They became good friends almost right away. Ian was the kind of leader who was right in it with his men. Bobby was so happy that Ian turned out to be from our hometown. They were going to be pals forever, long after they were out of the Corps."

"I went to Iraq right away, too. Went the first time, too. I was probably there at the same time. Fallujah."

"Hmm. That's where it happened."

Jack shook his head. "I'm so goddamn sorry." Jack slid the wallet back. "That why you're looking for Buchanan? To tell him?"

"He might already know—I wrote to him a lot. Care of general delivery in Fortuna. The letters didn't come back, so I assume he picked them up."

Jack's brow wrinkled curiously.

"I don't know what happened to Ian. Right after Bobby got hurt, while he was hospitalized in Germany and then in Washington, D.C., at Walter Reed, I wrote to Ian and he answered my letters. He wanted to know about Bobby's condition and how I was holding up. I looked forward to his letters—I could see what Bobby saw. I felt kind of close to Ian just from Bobby's letters, then when we started to correspond and I was getting to know him myself, he started to feel like my friend, too. I can't explain it—it was just letters. And they were mostly about Bobby. But I think I got close to him—"

"Lotta servicemen get really attached to pen pals," Jack said. "Especially when they're on isolated tours like that."

Meet the Author

Robyn Carr is a RITA® Award-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than forty novels, including the critically acclaimed Virgin River series. Robyn and her husband live in Las Vegas, Nevada. You can visit Robyn Carr’s website at www.RobynCarr.com.

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Virgin River Christmas (Virgin River Series #4) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 173 reviews.
BEKKAJOSEPHINE More than 1 year ago
This was the best of the series so far. It centers on a marine injured in battle who dies and how his wife searches for his best friend. This friend is in the mountains to hide and heal. Wonderful story about a small town in the mountains where other marines also hide to heal and how they help this wife and the best friend marine.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the Virgin River series. This was a very sweet story and as usual I just could not stop reading it. What a wonderful way to pay tribute to our Marines. Semper Fi.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just another great addition to an already awesome series. Just couldnt put it down - you wont be sorry - didn't want the book to end !
deltadawn1966 More than 1 year ago
This is my first time to read any of Robyn's books. I read this book Thanksgiving weekend and come Monday morning. I ordered the first 3 books of this series. They were as great as Virgin River Christmas. Now I can't wait for Book 5,6,7 to come out in Feb,March,April. I have pre-ordered already them.

Great job Robyn... I have added you to my favorite authors list. The characters in your book seem so real. When I'm reading them, in my head it is as if I'm watching a movie. Everything so clear.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the first Robyn Carr book I have read. Now I am going to read all of them. I love her style,characters, tenderness and depth. I am a true fan after one book. Looking forward to reading all of her past Novels and her new 2009 books.
Fan in Virginia
Katie321 More than 1 year ago
When I bought Virgin River Christmas I didn't know if it would be as fantastic as the rest of the Virgin River series but I was not at all disappointed. When Marcie's husband was killed in the line of duty (war) she follows Ian (her late husband's best friend and fellow Marine) to Virgin River to share her grief with him. But what she finds is that he is wracked by survivor's guilt and his loss of a great friend. At first he wants nothing to do with her. She perseveres at trying to get through to him and what develops is a sweet and romantic attraction between the two that just keeps growing. Robyn Carr is one of my favorite authors, her books keep me on cloud nine the entire time I'm reading them and I am always so anxious for the next book. I hope that we can find out more about Marcie and Ian in a future book of this series. I would love that. Buy this book or any other in this series. You won't be disappointed in any way.
gina-bookjunkie More than 1 year ago
Marcie and Ian should live in Virgin River with the rest of my favorite characters! Their love and compassion and understanding was written perfectly.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pure_Jonel More than 1 year ago
Carr once again returns to Virgin River with a tale that will melt your heart and have you falling in love. The breathtaking scenery enhances the emotionally turbulent tale, transporting you to the outskirts of Virgin River. This tale tackles some emotionally hard hitting topics, without cutting corners. At the same time, love and friendship shine through creating a whole that I couldn’t look away from. I thoroughly enjoy how Carr portrays her ex-military men. The aura surrounding them as well as their take on life is great and so realistic, showing these alpha males as they truly are. The main characters in this novel at first struck me as an odd pair, but I absolutely love the way that it turned out. Marcie’s strength tempered Ian’s subtle faltering. I loved the way that their emotions played across the page. I will admit that there were more than a few times when I couldn’t tolerate Erin. Although one can understand where she’s coming from, she takes the overprotectiveness to the point of controlling, taking away choices from her siblings. I cheered out loud when Marcie finally stood up to her. And for those of us who enjoy audiobooks as well, I’ve read the print version and listened to the audio book. The narrator for the audio version really brings this tale to life. It’s a fantastic experience.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Virgin River series has been very enjoyable to read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
you will be crying as you read this installment of the Virgin River series and fall in love with Ian and Marcie.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Must read!! Heart warming story, I have read all of the Virgin River Series books!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the book. Marcie describes the day her husband dies. I cried the entire time. Brought back the day my husband died. Very emotional. Well written. Great humor,too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Post need to be ceremonies and other stuff here.
momochriS34 More than 1 year ago
Another wonderful book in the Virgin River Series. I love them all and all the inhabitants of Virgin River. Robyn Carr is the BEST!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Needs to tie in more with the other stories. But still a great story!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it. I am hooked on the Virgin River series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this series, as well as other's Robyn Carr has written. Following the lives of these characters makes for a more satisfying read.
paytonk More than 1 year ago
One of the features I liked about BN was not having to worry about repeat orders because you always let me know YOU ALREADY OWN THAT BOOK..But I actually did buy this book already because the cover had changed. It would be nice if they would refund the amount of the book to my account...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago