Sunday, February 01, 2009

Review: Second Chance Pass by Robyn Carr

Busy, busy week! So little time and so many books to read and review! I'm doing really good on the reading front, but have to admit... once again, I'm behind on my reviews ^_^; I try, I try... but alas... LOL :)

Anyway, here is my review for Second Chance Pass by Robyn Carr :) I don't know how many of you read the excerpt of Second Chance Pass at the end of A Virgin River Christmas, but I have to say, Ms Carr had me worried for a moment... Once again though, I should not have worried...

Second Chance Pass by Robyn Carr
published by Mira in February 2009

In the space of a few months Vanessa buried her husband, Matt, and gave birth to their son--breaking her heart while filling it with a whole new kind of love. But the one man she longs to share this love with now acts as if she doesn't exist.

Paul Haggerty lives by the marine motto: Semper Fi. Ever faithful to his best friend, he's done right by Matt's widow as best he can... considering he's been secretly in love with her for years. Now, just as he's about to make his move, another woman has staked her claim on him--a claim that will be tough to escape.

With courage, humility and not a little meddling from the good folks of Virgin River, Vanni and Paul might just get a second chance to have the love they both desire and deserve.

Genre: contemporary romance
Series: Virgin River, book #5

The Story: Of course, if you've read the first trilogy of Virgin River, you'll know that Second Chance Pass is much more than the synopsis. The first half of the book focuses on Vanni and Paul. Although a recent widow, the reality in Vanni's life is that her husband has been away from her for more than a year since he was on a mission. In addition, Paul has been by her side through the recent emotional events - the death of her husband and the birth of her son - supporting her and basically being a rock. That has allowed Vanni to realize that she has feelings for Paul and is now ready to do something about them. Meanwhile Paul has had feelings for Vanni ever since he first saw her... However, it is his best friend who swept her off her feet and she's been off-limit ever since... Now, Paul is worried that she'll never get over Matt... and he has complications of his own.

The second half of the book is spent catching up with previous characters, the town and setting up for the next books. There are some important events happening, but I don't really want to give it away.

My Opinion: All in all, Second Chance Pass is an enjoyable read and has a feel very similar to Shelter Mountain and Whispering Rocks. Readers that were hoping that the story will focus solely on Paul and Vanni might be disappointed. However, I was okay with it, because after all, Paul and Vanni's storyline really started in Whispering Rocks... so I felt like I knew them well enough :)

I have to say that Ms Carr was quite audacious with this book. While the storyline was well-written and the actions, well-explained... I do think it might stir up some opinions. I mean, I do think that Vanni moved on quite fast... then, there's also Paul's complication:

*** MAJOR SPOILERS: read at your own risk***

Basically, what happens is that Paul got another woman pregnant. While wanting to be part of his child's life, he refuses to marry the woman, because he is in love with Vanni after all. I was actually quite happy about his decision... because one should marry for love and not obligation and the marriage would probably not have lasted and not be a happy one. Thing is, in our society today, people seems to believe strongly about doing the right thing... So anyway, I thought it was great from Ms Carr to have Paul really stand by his feelings.


So kudos to Ms Carr for taking some risks. I think that Vanni and Paul's relationship was very sweet and I'm really happy they got together :)

Apart from Vanni and Paul, we also follow Tom and Brenda's growing relationship. First love, sweet love - very well handled. Then comes Nikki and Joe, Vanni and Paul's best friends respectively. I really hope we're going to read more about them in the future.

Finally, we re-visit Mel and Jack... which I think are the pillars of the Virgin River series. I love how Ms Carr is able to incorporate Mel and Jack in all of the books. I like reading about them, reading what happens to them after their HEA ending... and some big events happen to Mel and Jack in Second Chance Pass... events that will change their future.

I think what is special about this series is that we're not just reading about one relationship between the hero and heroine, but we're reading about a whole community... which keeps growing. Along with Mel and Jack, I think that is the selling point of this series. Some don't enjoy it, but for me it works because I think it is refreshing. I think it is different than most contemporary romances out there. Most of the time when you're reading a book in a series, the story tends to focus only on the H/H. Once they have their HEA ending, they're shelved and only make small appearances, usually to announce that a baby is on the way. The Virgin River series is different... things are happening simultaneously, it's almost like watching TV series. I don't know if I'm explaining my feeling well... but yeah, it sets the Virgin River series apart from the rest. In addition, Ms Carr has a knack at keeping things interesting. Stuff that can be sad and life-changing to happen... there's no status quo for anybody in this series.

While I really enjoyed Second Chance Pass and think this is a good addition to the series, there a few things that are bothering me. For example, the fact that Virgin River is growing quite a lot and all the new residents are part of the marines or army. I mean, Jack, Preacher... then Mike and now Paul. Let's not forget Vanni's father who used to be a general, Tom who is leaving for West Point, Rick who enrolled in the marines... oh and Ian from A Virgin River Christmas and the next hero, Luke who is also a retired army guy. Does it stretch a bit reality? I mean, what are the chances?

The second thing that is bothering me is that problems seem to get resolved a bit too smoothly. I feel that Ms Carr spends a lot of pages on catching up, introducing new characters, basically creating Virgin River... that sometimes, the resolution to big issues of the H/H or between them are just too easy. For example, Paul's complication in Second Chance Pass. I mean, if Paul was committed to take responsibilities, then why make the problem become a non-problem anymore?

My Grade: So despite my issues with the series, Second Chance Pass was a great read and I enjoyed it a lot :) So I'm giving a B+. I'm definitively looking forward to the next book, Temptation Ridge. I'm really curious about that one because both the hero and heroine will be new characters... We'll see how Ms Carr will handle it :)

By the way, I was wondering... Ms Carr has two youngster relationships in the series so far. One is Ricky and Liz and the other is Tom and Brenda... I know that Ricky has a lot of fans... but I can't help but liking Tom better :) What abot you?


  1. Ohhhh, I've been waiting for this review. :)

    Good one!

  2. Seneca - Thanks! I hope you enjoy the book! :)

  3. Carr's series is very unique and I made the mistake of reading the third in her series first. Plot lines appeal to me and I can read out of order ;)

    So I was definitely thrown when the H/H were off page for like eons!

    But I think you are right, it has a different feel and I'm looking forward to read the 2nd before the 1st - don't know why but I think the 2nd hero appealed to me.

    Just for conversation sake ;)

    I know that in the States there are small towns where the military men out populate anyone else. Whether it's tradition in families or the way out of small towns I'm not sure but when watching some shows on the US military you hear stories of towns having many men die at one time. Heart breaking for sure.

    As for pregnancy nowadays. It's probably different from region to region but in my area (Ontario central) there seems to be no need for men to do the right thing. One of my best buds is a single mom and gets no money from her ex. She's not even sure he knows she had the baby! That's how awkward things are sometimes - I've told her there are laws now that if a parent hasn't seen the child for 5 years that the other parent can then have full custody and the offending parent has to pay child support. Nope, she lives on her income alone.

    Sometimes I think it's the luck of the draw. Having a man say 'I don't love you but I will be a proper father to the child' is more in keeping with honour today (imho).


  4. Cindy - LOL, this is a LONG comment! :)

    I think it's possible to enjoy Preacher's story without having read Jack's. So I hope you enjoy it :)

    I hear you about the small towns thing. The thing is, in this case, it's the opposite. Most of these military men are retired. They came to VR after completing service... it just seems a bit too weird to me. I'm sure there are small towns like that... but I'm not used to it, seeing as Canada is not that big on military.

    Okay, about doing the right thing... I guess you see it more in the romance books than in real life ^_^; Sad no? I just wanted to say that I liked that Paul didn't marry the woman, just because she was having his baby.

  5. I just finished this today. My review will go up sometime this week, I think.

    I had major issues with Vanni. She drove me batshit crazy. I spent probably half my review complaining about her. LOL

    Conversely, I liked her and Paul together. Go figure.

    As for the military men being all in one place:

    If you remember, Jack and Preacher moved there. Jack to get away from it all and Preacher b/c he couldn't leave Jack.

    I know it's hard to understand if you haven't been around men in the military, but those men become brothers while in the service. The way RC writes it is pretty much what happens as far as the relationship aspect goes. They bond over something most of us will never understand (and should never have to), then they come home together to find they need to go back to living in the real world. And that's hard.

    So they go to each other, rely on each other, care for each other. As men do. Not as women would, with venting and talking and all the emotions involved, but in their own way. So it isn't at all surprising that they'd migrate to each other.

    It would be unbelievable if they all just happened to end up in VR. But they made the decision to move there together. All of them. That makes it believable to me.

  6. Holly - LOL, can't wait for your review, although I already sneak a peak at it :P

    I get what you're saying about Vanni. I guess it didn't bother me too much, because her parts with Paul went by really fast. Also, I guess there was a need for some little conflict, if not they would have gotten together too easily, LOL :)

    I actually love the part where she showed Tom which page to read, LOL :)

    I also get what you're saying about the military men. I guess I'm just not used to it. So for me, it's a bit hard to accept.