Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Review: Angel's Peak and Moonlight Road by Robyn Carr

I was going to write that blogland is quiet, but I think perhaps it's just me who is (for once) behind in my bloghopping :P

Meanwhile, there's nothing new with me. I've been watching the Tim Horton's Brier these past few days :D Seriously, it's been a great year curling-wise LOL. I'm rooting for Newfoundland-Labrador to win :) and I'm also rooting for all the underdogs - PEI, Nova Scotia and North West Territories-Yukon. They've all got at least one win, so all is good :)

I'm heading for the bookstore tonight. My sister has a lab and I'm going to be waiting for her... My hands are itching to buy some books as they are currently some good promotions. I've gotten a few YA books last week... but all the books I really want in March are coming out in two weeks and by that time, the promotion will be over. Bummer. I'm also trying to be a very good girl, since I'm going to RT in April... but seriously, being a good girl might kill me :P

Angel's Peak by Robyn Carr
published by Mira in February 2010

Four years ago, Air Force sweethearts Franci Duncan and Sean Riordan reached an impasse. She wanted marriage and a family, he didn’t. But a chance meeting proves that the bitter breakup hasn’t cooled their sizzling chemistry.

Sean has settled down in spite of himself—he’s not the cocky young fighter pilot he was when Franci left, and he wants them to try again. After all, they have a history...but that’s not all they share.

Franci’s secret reason for walking away when Sean refused to commit is now three and a half: a redheaded cherub named Rosie who shares her daddy’s emerald green eyes. Sean is stunned—and furious with Franci for the deception.

News travels fast in Virgin River, and soon the whole town is taking sides. Rebuilding their trust could take a small miracle—and the kind of love that can move mountains.
Genre: contemporary romance
Series: Virgin River, Book #10

The Story: This is basically a secret baby book. Franci and Sean were a hot item 4 years ago and when Franci became pregnant, she asked Sean to commit (without telling him about the baby). When he refused, she walked away. Fast-forward 4 years, Sean is on an extended vacation and visiting his brother Luke in Virgin River. At a bar in Eureka, he runs into Franci again and Sean realizes she's the woman who got away... so he decides to win her back... and discover he has a daughter, the "Wide Iwish" Rose... Afterward, the story focuses on how to make their relationship works.

My Opinion: Tabitha has a pretty good review here  and I have to say, I pretty much agree with her.

I know a lot of readers are sick to death of the secret baby plot as it's been done over and over, but I still enjoy them :) Actually, to be honest, I pretty much skipped to the part where Sean discovers Rose, LOL, because that's really where the interesting stuff starts.. Poor Sean ^_^; Not really the greatest way to find out you have a kid.

I thought Sean handled the aftermath pretty well. Once he found out he had a daughter, there was no doubt Sean wanted to be present for her... and if he couldn't be there, at least his family would. I like the fact that the whole family (on both sides) were involved. There was also an honesty in Sean and Franci's characters... Honesty as in, Sean readily admitted he wasn't ready to be a father 4 years ago. In that sense, I thought the story felt quite real.

I did enjoy Angel's Peak's storyline. The interactions between the different characters, the focus on the Riordan's family as opposed to the Virgin River community. I really liked the dynamics of the Riordan brothers and how Aiden seemed to be the peacemaker, the in-between between the sons and their mother. That was quite cute and humorous and so was Rosie, the secret baby. However, I did not really care for Franci and Sean. Due to their action and behaviors, I don't think they are endearing characters to the reader, especially Franci. I got to agree with Tabitha - I would have liked her to break it off with her "boyfriend" before jumping back into bed with Sean... even if the boyfriend turned out to be a jerk, I thought she handled everything quite wrong.

So yes, taken as a whole, I thought Angel's Peak was enjoyable. As usual, I enjoy Ms Carr's writing. I also thought there was a nice balance between the main storyline and the side stories. Also, I liked the Riordan clan and their interaction. Was it the best book of the series? No. Wasn't even a wowzer... but still a fun read.

My Grade: B-.

Moonlight Road by Robyn Carr
published by Mira in March 2010
With her beloved younger siblings settled and happy, Erin Foley has got empty nest syndrome. At age thirty-five.

So she’s hitting the pause button on her life and holing up in a secluded (but totally upgraded, she’s not into roughing it) cabin near Virgin River. Erin is looking forward to really getting to know herself...not some shaggy-haired mountain man she meets wandering the woods.

In fact, beneath his faded fatigues and bushy beard, Aiden Riordan is a doctor, recharging for a summer after leaving the Navy. He’s intrigued by the pretty, slightly snooty refugee from the rat race — meditating, journaling and definitely keeping him at arm’s length. He’d love to get closer...if his scruffy exterior and crazy ex-wife don’t hold him back.

But maybe it’s something in the water — unlikely romances seem to take root in Virgin River... helped along with some well-intentioned meddling, of course.
Genre: contemporary romance
Series: Virgin River, Book #11

The Story:  There was a lot of storylines going on in this book and the one describes in the back blurb is only the "main" one. If I could break down the book, I'd say there's three storylines going on:

1) Erin and Aiden: Erin has taken the whole summer off to stay at the cabin and take her first real vacation in years. She wants to do "nothing," but turns out she's not really good at it. Meanwhile, Aiden has left the Marines, because he didn't want to commit another 2 years aboard a ship. Erin and Aiden's first meeting don't go too well... but Aiden finds himself attracted and eventually decides to win Erin over. All is going well till his crazy ex-wife shows up...

2) Melinda wants another baby, despite the fact that she had an hysterectomy. She's looking into surrogate mothers and trying to convince Jack about it.

3) Art comes across Netta, his girlfriend in his previous group-home and wants to renew with her.

My Opinion: Out of the three books of this trilogy, I was looking forward to Moonlight Road the most. Turns out it disappointed me the most :(

I liked Erin and Aiden's characters, although they were not very developed. Erin has spent the last 20 years taking care of her younger siblings, but now, they're all grown up and doesn't need her as much. I can't imagine suffering from empty nest syndrome at the age of 35... As for Aiden, he's really my favorite Riordan brothers so far :P There's just something about him. I think it's his calm and gentleness. Luke and Sean are used to be ladies man and they're a bit cocky and arrogant - an alpha streak in them... Aiden is different, in a good way. I think that Erin and Aiden complemented each other pretty well and their storyline had so much potential... Two adults that are at a crossroad in their lives and they must decide what to do. I love the way Erin and Aiden met, it was hilarious :) Unfortunately, Ms Carr didn't develop their story and chose to focus on the side-stories instead... which is a pity, since the initial set up was done well. Everything in Erin and Aiden's relationship went too fast, too quickly and as a result, it wasn't quite believable. I just wished Ms Carr had spent more time on them... And then, she brought in the crazy ex-wife. That part could have been quite interesting, if the book was only about Erin and Aiden... and the resolution with the ex-wife, not very believable which I could have overlooked if I was satisfied with Erin and Aiden's relationship.

So yes, I wanted and expected more out of Erin and Aiden's story... and in the end, the reason why I was disappointed was too much things were going on in Moonlight Road... which is not new in the Virgin River series. I don't like it, but again, I could have overlooked... but really, my main issue with this book? The book had a preaching undertone. Ms Carr incorporated a lot of topics in this book and clearly, she put a lot of efforts in her research and it showed. However, she didn't do a good job at writing what she found out and most of the time, it felt like a lecture... actually, it felt like one lecture after another. Here's a list of the topics: the empty nest syndrome, sexuality of people with Down Syndrome, care-taking of people who are mentally challenged, surrogate mothers, emotional impact of women who had hysterectomy, etc. Some of them were incorporated a bit better in the storyline, others - not at all... and that took away from my enjoyment of the book.

Art having a girlfriend could have been a cute storyline, a nice side-story... if only Ms Carr had done a better job and incorporating the message she wanted to share with the readers. As for Mel wanting another baby - well I thought that she was being very irrational and everything made sense, once readers realize what the message was... It simply, I could have done without these messages. I'm not against learning stuff when I read fiction, but at the same time, I'm reading this for fun... when I feel like I'm being lectured about topics - important ones in real life, true, but still lectures - it takes a way the fun a bit. Perhaps if it hadn't all been in the same book, it would have gone better with me. Ah well.

On the plus side, I did think it was interesting to re-visit Mel and Jack's relationship while they were fighting, while they had issues. I like how Jack stood up to Mel and didn't let Mel get her way, but at the same time, he was there for her. Their relationship is really the foundation to the Virgin River series :)

My Grade: C

I know Ms Carr has another trilogy set in Virgin River to be released next year and I am going to keep on reading this series... but at the same time, I hope she has plans for something new after it.  It's different when an author starts a series and has a set number of books in mind then when something takes off and the author has to add books to it. Know what I mean? In this case, Ms Carr just keeps adding characters and finding issues... and at times, I feel the series is becoming a little bit forced... and old. What do you think?


  1. My feelings on these two books were completely reversed. I really did not enjoy Angel's Peak much, it was my least fave of this trilogy. I liked Moonlight Road better than AP. But I REALLY LOVED Forbidden Falls. After some from the original trilogy, it was my favorite. It was one of the few that didn't have a GAZILLION things going on. But, even my least favorite still usually pretty enjoyable! :)

  2. Mollie - I agree with you, the best in this trilogy was Forbidden Falls :)

    Actually, reading your comment, it makes me realize... The story between Aiden and Erin was much better than Sean and Franci. However, my total enjoyment of the book had AP > MR. Does that make sense?

    But you're right, they're still quite enjoyable :)

  3. I haven't read the 3rd one yet but I agree with you about the other one. The first 3 books were the best of the series I think and while I keep going back to it (and will continue to do so) I'm hoping for something as good as Jack & Mel or Brie and Mike in the future!

    I missed Jack & Mel in Angel's Peak so I'm looking forward to them being in Moonlight Road.

    I think my favourite parts of this whole series have been the Jack & Mel bits actually...

  4. I like the secret baby plot but Franci ruined the story for me.

    Aw, the other book I bought by Carr was Moonlight Road. I was looking forward to Aiden's story but now not so sure anymore. *throw back in bottom of TBR pile* hehe!

  5. I haven't read this series nor this author, but you've intrigued me enough to want to try and pick up her books. Which would you suggest as a first book? The first one in the series?

  6. @ Silver - Not that it's my place to answer your question (but I will anyway LOL!) - definitely start at the first one - Virgin River. It introduces the place and and Mel & Jack who are the 2 most important characters in the series. It's a great book and an excellent comfort re-read.

  7. I just wanted to comment on blogland being very quiet. I don't have a long sidebar so maybe I've just worn the bloggers down ;)


  8. I have only read the first book in this series, and I am waiting for my library to get the next two in so I can read them. For some reason they have every book from the fourth one on, but not two and three. Strange.

  9. Kaetrin - If you enjoy reading about Jack and Mel, you definitively need to read Moonlight Road, Kaetrin :)

    Tabitha - Nod nod, I know what you mean :)

    I liked Erin and Aiden's story, I just wanted more. Sigh. I mean, she did better in Forbidden Falls and Angel's Peak when it comes to keeping the main characters as the focus of the story...

    I still hope you'll read it eventually :)

    Silver - LOL, Kaetrin already answered you and I agree with her, you should read Virgin River :)

    Also, you can try the Grace Valley trilogy which have been re-printed. I really like that one.

    Cindy - Hey there sleepyhead :D So it's not just me? Good to know! :D How have you been?

    Marg - Hmmm, that's really weird. Perhaps they were too late to get them? Thing is, these are Mira/Harlequin books right... so I guess they're harder to get back in stock in bookstore? But yeah, they should try harder.

  10. Aww, that sucks Moonlight Road was such a disappointment. :(

    I still have only read Virgin River out of this series. LOL

  11. Silver - You're welcome :D

    Ames - A little bit :(

    LOL, Ames, you crack me up :D