Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Down By The River by Robyn Carr ****

This is the last in the Grace Valley trilogy, and I think it's the best of the 3! It had a terrific, romantic ending with HEAs for a bunch of the characters, as well as some tension, some new characters and some re-appearances, and the continuation of our old friends - June and Jim, June's dad Elmer and her aunt Myrna, George the cafe owner, Chris and Nancy, John and Susan.

In the last book, we learned that June - silly doctor - had never gotten around to actually using the diaphragm she got as birth control, meanwhile telling Jim she couldn't get pregnant, and lo and behold she was pregnant. As soon as Jim learned that, he rushed to the scene, ready to wed. However, June - silly woman - wasn't sure marriage was the answer, since both had been single and independent for so long. Go figure. As long as everyone pushed, she refused to agree. Then a good friend mentioned something that made her reconsider...

In this book we learn the identity of Myrna's long-time penpal, a funny surprise. The new Presbyterian preacher Harry is a likable fellow, even though he does keep borrowing money from everyone. Jurea Mull continues to thrive, but Clarence spends most of the book in the VA hospital being treated for his PTSD. A new family shows up, and Sam the garage owner adopts them, after trying to run the no-good father away.

Where the previous book was about Women Getting Even, this book was more about healing and family. Jim's family comes for Christmas - his sister Annie, her husband and 2 kids - just in time to help June make some important decisions and to help the town in a crisis. Even Harry's ex-wife makes an appearance and is there as family for Harry when he needs help. Myrna's family is brought back together, and Chris and Nancy face some important family decisions.

It was a great ending to the series, and I recommend reading them all, in order, before reading the Virgin River series, since so many of these characters make appearances in those books too. I like Carr's writing style, although she needs a better editor - please, "calvary" for "cavalry" is one of the worst typos!! And "what" for "want" at one point - and there was a section in book #2 that I know had to have been completely out of order, June's ultra-sound. When it came up, I kept thinking, did she get a second ultra-sound?? No, but it was out of order and the details of the ultra-sound were already mentioned several times before this section appeared. Threw me for a loop.

Ah, fictional small towns are truly fun to read and fantasize about - and Carr, while romanticizing it, doesn't pull any punches - there's drug addiction, and spousal abuse, and death - but underneath is this community that cares (maybe too nosey at times) and sticks together.

I'd consider it for more than 4 stars - I liked it better than book #2 but it can't compete with Virgin River or any of my other favorite 5 star reads.

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