Sunday, March 22, 2009

Temptation Ridge by Robyn Carr ****

This is #6 in the Virgin River series, and while I really enjoyed reading it, the series as a whole is starting to cool down for me somewhat. I considered the first one, Virgin River, a real keeper. And it's more like women's fiction than romance in that, while there is a definite hero/heroine for each book, the book's focus is wider, on the residents of Virgin River. We continue to run into the previous protagonists of the other books, and there are regular residents who didn't rate a book but still make up the neighborhood.

Shelby is the heroine of this story and she was introduced in an earlier book as Walt's niece - Vanessa's cousin. Walt's only sister was her mother, and Shelby stayed with her mother through 5 years of home care while she wasted away and died from complications of ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). Now that her mother has been gone for a few months, Shelby sells the house and goes to live with Uncle Walt, Paul, Vanessa, little Matt and Tom while she plans the rest of her young life (she's now 25).

Luke came to town as the owner of a property with cabins on it, property he and his brother Sean bought some years ago as investment property. The old man who had owned it had stayed on as caretaker, but died - and now that Luke is out of the army, he's looking for something to do. He figures he'll fix up the property and sell it for a profit.

Luke has a past with women - when he was 24, he married and was expecting a child with his young beautiful wife when he was shipped off to Mogadishu. When he came back, he was confronted with the awful truth - it wasn't his child, it was the child of one of his officers that was on the mission with him, and she left him for the other man. In the aftermath of that disaster, Luke decided he wasn't the marrying type. So when he gets attracted to Shelby, especially thinking she's about 18, he tries to curb his thoughts. But Shelby had other ideas - and put the moves on him. It takes a long time for her to break him, but eventually he breaks - after giving her The Speech. You know, the one where they both agree it's a short term fling, no weddings or kids, and they'll both move on.

Meanwhile a lot of things go on in Virgin River - Brie has a baby, the town drunk gets sent to rehab, the school bus driver has an accident - yeah, life goes on in Virgin River even when 2 people are struggling with their emotions and their relationship.

I wasn't as "into" Luke and Shelby as I have been for others. The secondary romance in this book is Walt and the movie actress - nothing out of the ordinary there. The Virgin River men are so perfect, so in touch with their feelings, so proud of their women and children, that frankly it's starting to be a little... sterile might be the word I'm looking for. I mean, doesn't Jack ever piss Mel off? Doesn't Paige ever have a cranky moment towards Preacher? Don't any of the h/h every fight at all??

This will go in the Serial Readers Challenge, and maybe in the Spring 2009 challenge too, I'll have to check... 4 stars - still good reading, but nothing earth shattering and smile inducing...

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