One question before we get onto the review... Do you find it harder to grade books in a series? I had this problem earlier this week when I reviewed Promises in Death and again with this one. I like to grade books in a series in respect with the previous ones, but I'm not sure if the grade would really match the grade I would give it if it wasn't part of the series... Hmmm, dilemma, dilemma.
Temptation Ridge by Robyn Carr
published by Mira in March 2009
At twenty-five, after five years as her mother's caregiver, it's time for Shelby to experience freedom and adventure. Time for travel, college and romance. But when she visits Virgin River, she runs into Luke Riordan, decidedly not whom she has in mind.
A handsome Blackhawk pilot, Luke exited the army after twenty years, four wars and having been shot out of the sky three times. At thirty-eight he's tough and jaded. His major was in one-night stands, with a minor in commitment avoidance.
Technically, these two are all wrong for one another. But sometimes what you want and what you need are two different things…two very good things.
Genre: contemporary romance
Series: Virgin River, Book #6
The Story: After the death of her mother, it's time for 25 y.o. Shelby McIntyre to live her own life. Her plan is to move in with her uncle, General Booth, in Virgin River before traveling a bit and then enrolling into nursing school. At her arrival, she meets Luke Riordan, a newly retired Blackhawk pilot who's come to Virgin River to work on the cabins on the land he owns and make a quick sale. Both are extremely attracted to each other; however, Luke believes that Shelby is too young and should be looking for someone else.
Then, there's Dr Cameron Michaels who is looking for something more in his life. He was halfway in love with Vanessa Booth when she chose Paul in Second Chance Pass... then, he had a one night-stand with a woman he thought might be the one... and she disappeared on him. With a battered heart, Cameron is looking for a change of scenery...
My Opinion: Another winner for Ms Carr. In my opinion, Temptation Ridge was better than Second Chance Pass and in some way, better even than Shelter Mountain and Whispering Rock. Definitively one of my favorite in the series. I think one of the reasons is that Shelby and Luke are both new characters that we haven't met previously.Okay, so Shelby was introduced in Second Chance Pass, but barely mentioned. I have to admit, I prefer it when Ms Carr is not picking up storylines from previous books as a focus.
So the main storyline was between Shelby and Luke and I enjoyed it immensely. One of my concerns going into the book was Shelby and Luke's age difference - 13 years old... I'm not a fan of big age difference between the H/H and although 13 years is not too much, the striking fact here is that Shelby and Luke are at two different stages of their life. On one hand, you have Shelby who is starting her life - going back to school for a career, and on the other hand, Luke who is retiring from the Army. I think that Ms Carr did an incredible job handling this relationship. I could feel Luke's reluctance towards Shelby, not only because he doesn't do commitment, but because Shelby was so young. My heart really went to Shelby though, because she was strong, determined and level-head. She didn't rush into this relationship, taking Luke in a tornado or being taken up by Luke. She was the one in control, but not in a manipulative way. In addition, I really related to Shelby - same age, never really date and so on. I especially like her honesty. It was kind of cute to see her falling for Luke even though he wasn't what she imagined for her first boyfriend.
Although I think Ms Carr handled it really well, I have to admit that Luke did annoy me from time to time. I understand what he was thinking when he thought he wasn't the best for Shelby, that she deserved more. That she could get more... It's not like I wanted him to ask Shelby to put a stop to her dream in order to continue their relationship. However, once she chose him, he should have stopped the chivalrous and made a grab for her... As a result, it would have been nice to see him grovel a lot more at the end. Luckily for him, he has a family that loves him and who is not afraid to meddle in his affairs. Otherwise, I liked Luke. I thought he was a nice guy and really hard-working. I like how he welcomed Art - a 30 y.o. man with Down Syndrome. He had no obligations, but like I said, he's a nice guy.
There were two other 'main' storylines in Temptation Ridge. One was General Booth and his neighbor, Muriel - the actress. I wasn't very interested in it, although I like General Booth. His protectiveness towards his children and niece is very cute :) I also like how all those big bad guys kind of squirmed in front of him LOL :) The other storyline is Dr Cameron Michaels. Cameron was introduced in Second Chance Pass and honestly, I didn't like his character... Oh sure, he was a nice man, but I didn't like him because he came in between Vanessa and Paul. I didn't expect him to have a bigger role in the series... but there it is - great planning Ms Carr. Have to say, I like him much better in this book. In some ways, he reminds me of John Stone - the doctor from Grace Valley. It was kind of sad to see Cameron wonder what went wrong with his life... How come he wasn't married with a family yet. I am looking forward for more of his story in Paradise Valley... but so far, although I like him... not sure I like Abby, the woman he is being paired up with.
As expected also, we continue following the evolution of Virgin River. We get glimpses of Jack, Mel, Preacher, Mike and Brie. This time, they were well incorporated into the story and I didn't feel like they were stealing the show. I have to say, I like that little snippet where we see Mel not being comfortable in her body because it isn't what it used to be. I think it helps making Mel more human and a little less a saint. I mean, I love her character, but she just seems so perfect. I also liked how Ms Carr did the timeline. A few months have passed from the beginning of Temptation Ridge to the end. Ms Carr did a good job, doing it seamlessly and spaced the events well. See, I don't like it when the stories span a few days only; however, it seems hard for authors to write stories covering long periods of time... So kudos for Ms Carr.
One complaint though is that Ms Carr should stop having events that disrupt the everyday life routine and make life more dramatic... for example, the fire at the end of Second Chance Pass... I mean, sure once in a while is all right... but not too much because then, it's not believable anymore.
So, looking forward to Paradise Valley next month. The last book in the second trilogy seems to be very emotional from what I read in the synopsis. Rick is coming home - a changed man... The grower that we've seen who seems to be a DEA agent is also doing a come back. Add in Cameron's storyline... One thing I hope though is that a particular character doesn't get a bigger role. So in this book, Cheryl - the town drunk who was in love with Jack in Virgin River - is back... and with the help of Mel and Doc, she went into rehab and is back sober... I really hope she's not going to be the DEA agent's love interest... I don't know, I don't like her very much... However, why would you bring back a character that has disappeared and transformed her into a better person if it isn't to give her a bigger role?
In conclusion, Temptation Ridge was a great book that I enjoyed immensely. I laughed and I cried while reading this book. Why I cried? Well something happened and it was really sad. However, I did laugh more in this book. There are a lot of LOL moments. One of my favorite scene is when Luke's younger brother comes for a visit and Luke warns him to stay away from Shelby because she is taken. It was so funny... especially when Luke got a bit depressed because his younger brother is younger, and he makes Shelby laugh... Just too cute :) Anyway, lots of good things in this book :)
My Grade: A-