So the thing is I read parts of this series a few years ago. I didn’t start right at the beginning though. In fact the first book I read in this series, was Paradise Valley (Virgin River #7). I was totally lost on who everyone was, but I liked the idea of a small town and having the same characters to read about, so I went and got book #8, then #9, and then read the whole way up until the last book, “My Kind of Christmas (Virgin River #18) and by then I was pretty much over most of the characters. I think it was because the books started to feel rushed and I was honestly tired of people getting way too involved in other people’s personal business. I always meant to go back and read the books I skipped over and I am really glad that I did.
The first book in the Virgin River series focuses on two people who will become well known to the series, Melinda (Mel) Monroe and Jack Sheridan.
Mel touched me from beginning to end in this book. Mel takes on a new job away from Los Angeles after she realizes that she is never going to get over her late husband’s murder if she stays in the same home doing the same job she has been for years. Relocating to Virgin River seems like a good place to start over. However, she quickly realizes this may not be the best idea ever after seeing how tiny the town is, and the home she is supposed to live in is a dump. Mel ends up catching the eye of local bartender/owner of Jack Sheridan who falls hard for Mel at first sight (instant-love sigh). Though Mel resists all attempts at a relationship with Jack, due to her still grieving the loss of her husband, we get to see how perfect the two of them could be for each other.
That said, Jack kind of got on my nerves which is one of the reasons for me that I gave this book 4 stars. Jack is jealous that Mel is just not getting over her dead husband. He loves her, so she should be in love with him and just move on. I am not kidding people. There’s a scene where he asks Mel’s sister to just tell him something terrible about Mel’s dead husband so he can feel better about things.
I should have realized that I would feel this way since Jack ended up being my least favorite character by the time I got to the end of this series. He’s pushy and possessive and I was just all over him. Things don’t get better though for me though.
When Mel admits she realizes she feels more for Jack than she ever did for her dead husband. Why do authors do this??? If you are going to have a widowed character, you can definitely have them fall in love with someone else after their spouse is dead. I should have thrown this in as a trope I hate from the other day, but I hate this trope. Turning dead spouse into a terrible or less than great person after you hear how great they are in order to make readers get on board with the new romance. Stop it. Stop it now. People can understand how someone can have feelings for someone standing in front of them after their husband/wife are dead.
Jack is a former Marine and be prepared for most of the book to depict former Marines, police officers, Black hawk pilots, etc. I honestly thought it worked for this book, but I thought it was odd how much of the series has people in this series being shipped overseas like five seconds after they are out of basic training. That to me didn’t read very realistic since I have friends and family members in all branches of the military and I know how rare it is for people to just just go immediately to a war zone. Jack is very much an alpha romance hero, so if that’s your thing have at it. I much preferred the heroes in books #2, and #3 because they were total opposites to Jack.
We get some limited background on secondary characters like John “Preacher” Middleton and Mike Valenzuela who will get their own standalone books in this series. Both are friends with Jack and all served together. The women (there are barely any in this besides Mel and her sister Joey) are bare bones for the most part.
The writing was very good. Carr does an excellent job of having you picture what the town of Virgin River looks like. She gives a really good background on other characters in this book too such as Preacher (he will be up in the next book) Mike, (book #3) and others. She was also quite descriptive in describing Mel having to go and deliver babies in this book too. Probably a bit too much for me at times. I maybe got a little bit squeamish.
The flow was good, I just thought at times things dragged and the book should have ended a bit earlier than it did. That’s because there’s another plot point that is thrown in and the book started to run too long for me. That is one thing about this series, there are usually two to three different B plots happening. Since this was the first in the series, you are getting a lot of people thrown your way and dealing with their issues. For example, a teen boy who looks up to Jack and Preacher, Rick Sudder (he is 16) gets involved with 14 year old Liz Anderson. I just could have done without that whole story-line. However, since I read about them in book #7, it was nice to see their beginning.
The ending was great, though definitely leaves things up in the air.