Thursday, January 27, 2011

Review: Wild Man Creek by Robyn Carr

Ouf. I've been meaning to write some reviews and real life just gets into the way. Sigh. It's just been so hectic and I'm trying to settle in a routine... however, not easy when stuff keeps happening to disturb my life ^_^; The worst was probably waking up on Monday and rushing to work only to realize that my car wouldn't start after a freezing week-end! Turns out it was the battery... tried to boost my car, but didn't work. Luckily, I have a very nice neighbor who helped once he got home... 10pm ^_^; Car seems okay now, so I will keep knocking on wood :P

Hopefully, things will settle down in the next few days. That's what I've been trying to tell myself for the past two weeks, LOL. Factor in that next week is Chinese New Year and the house needs to be sparking clean... Well you know the constant state of my room is, right? Yeah, big endeavor this week-end ^_^;

For now though, the focus is writing this review and then blog-hop :) And while this is not what I was planning to review, it is the book that's been calling me out the loudliest :)

Wild Man Creek by Robyn Carr
published by Mira (Harlequin) in January 2011

Sometimes love takes root in unexpected places - if you'll only let it grow

Colin Riordan came to Virgin River to recuperate from a horrific helicopter crash, the scars of which he bears inside and out. His family is wonderfully supportive, but it’s his art than truly soothes his troubled soul.

Stung personally and professionally by an ill-advised affair, PR guru Jillian Matlock arrived in town via golden parachute. She’s bought an old Victorian with a promising garden and is looking forward to cultivating something other than a corporate brand.

When Jillian finds Colin at his easel in her yard, there’s an instant connection. But both are holding romance at arm’s length— looking to simplify, not complicate, their lives. And Jill may yet be lured back to Silicon Valley...

No one arrives in Virgin River without a story, and no one leaves—if they ever do—unchanged.
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Virgin River series, Book #12

The Story: Jillian Matlock has dedicated the past decade of her life to her work, helping build a software company from the ground up as its PR. Unfortunately, everything comes to a stop when her boyfriend who is also her colleague files a harassment complaint against her. Shocked and betrayed, Jillian takes a leave of absence and for the first time in years, is at loose ends. She finally heads to Virgin River where she has spent her last vacation... When she stumbles across the old Victorian house, with its acres of field, Jillian feels a wave of nostalgia, remembering her great-grandmother's garden and decides to give it a go for the next couple of months. Invigorated, Jillian pours all her energy into growing these rare vegetables from her childhood... and then, she stumbles across Colin painting...

In Promise Canyon, Colin was the victim of a helicopter crash. As he started recuperating, he found himself addicted to the pain medication and was caught buying drugs from a doctor who was dealing. After he rid himself from the addiction, Colin got depressed... and so for the past 6 months, Colin has found himself in some sort of rehab or treatment of one sort. It is during that time that he has rekindled with art - a talent of his, but not his passion which is flying. Colin feels like his life has been taken away, but he is not ready to give it up yet. While he can no longer fly for the army, there is still the possibility to find civilian/mercenary work in other parts of the world. As such, Colin plans to head to Africa where he'll be able to look for a flying job as well as paint wildlife... but in the meantime, he'll be spending the next few months in Virgin River, recuperating and painting.

Colin and Jillian seem to be complete opposites and yet, there is a connection between them... At a time where both are figuring out what the future holds for them, the two find solace in each other's arms... but what happens when a love affair has an expiration date?

My Opinion: It's funny how two books by the same author can elicit different feelings upon picking them up.  That's what happening to me with Promise Canyon and Wild Man Creek by Ms Carr. I got Promise Canyon back in December and after reading the blurb and the first chapter, I just didn't feel like reading it ^_^; As a result, it's still sitting in my TBR pile. In contrast, after reading the first few pages of Wild Man Creek, I was hooked and simply devoured it :)

To me, what makes Wild Man Creek stands out is the heroine, Jillian Matlock... which is funny because when I first read the blurb of the book, I was worried Jillian would be a copy of Erin from Moonlight Road. Someone who's burn-out and trying to find a new purpose in life, a workaholic who doesn't know how to relax... and while both heroines do share similarities, they are completely different. I loved Jillian and it was a thrill reading this book because the woman radiates energy. She was like a bulldozer (in a good way :P) - getting her idea and doing everything to realize it: researching, buying seeds, hiring Denny, sending samples of her soil, etc.  Her joy and excitement were simply contagious and I had this huge smile on my face throughout the entire book. A real force to be reckoned with :)

Of course, an awesome heroine is not enough to carry a whole book, we need a good hero as well and Colin wasn't shabby. Colin has some heavy baggages, given that in the past 6 months he's been in a helicopter crash from which he barely got out alive, then was addicted to pain killers and succumbed to depression afterwards.  I think the fact that Colin recovers from all of this and in such a short period of time is a strong statement. Oh for sure, there is strength, but more importantly I think is the will, determination and stubbornness. Colin used to live a fast-paced life, he considered himself wild, but in control... and he didn't want to give that up and that's only natural, right? Yes, some injuries did slow him down a little, but the crash hadn't crippled him, so it made sense that he didn't want to let go. There was also a hint of arrogance in Colin's personality, but instead of being unpleasant, it just made him more male :P

I also enjoyed the romance between Jillian and Colin, mostly because it was about the two of them :) It was casual, relaxed and sweet. I liked that the relationship developed at its own pace. It started off based on attraction and then deepened into something more. When both Jillian and Colin trusted each other and felt comfortable enough, they shared their pasts and their baggages. Everything was handled with maturity and it fit with these two independent persons. I also liked how it was handled at the end, with Colin's departure, and how everything was resolved. I think it happened as it should :)

One of my pet peeves in the last couple of books is that the storyline hasn't focused enough on the H/H. There was too much catching up with the previous characters as well as a lot of side stories overshadowing the main romance. However, what bothered me most were those natural disasters and accidents happening and pulling the whole community together. Once is okay, but two or three times and it's too unbelievable as well as too obvious that it's being used as a plot device. However, I felt that Ms Carr did a better job in Wild Man Creek. Most of the book focused on Jillian and Colin and while there was a side story, I thought it blended well with the main storyline, that it was linked. Many characters made an appearance, but they didn't steal the spotlight. I also enjoyed the siblings interactions between the Riordan brothers and the Matlock sisters. They helped fleshing the characters in my opinion.

My only real complaint would be that the book lost a bit of its momentum at the end of the book and it made the ending seemed rushed. As if Ms Carr didn't know what else to write, so better wrap it up ^_^; At the same time though, it felt incomplete as well. An epilogue would have helped in my opinion; however, Ms Carr rarely write those.

My Grade: B++. Overall, I really enjoyed Wild Man Creek. I thought the H/H were fleshed out and memorable, the romance was good and the little town atmosphere well balanced. In fact, I would liken this book to Jake and Mel's book, Virgin River, and it reminds me why I fell in love with this series :)