Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Review: Bring Me Home for Christmas by Robyn Carr

Bring Me Home for Christmas by Robyn Carr
published by Mira (Harlequin) in October 2011
This year, Becca Timm knows the number one item on her Christmas wish list—getting over Denny Cutler. Three years ago, Denny broke her heart before heading off to war. It's time she got over her silly high-school relationship and moved on.

So she takes matters into her own hands and heads up to Virgin River, the rugged little mountain town that Denny calls home, as an uninvited guest on her brother's men-only hunting weekend. But when an accident turns her impromptu visit into an extended stay, Becca finds herself stranded in Virgin River. With Denny. In very close quarters.

As the power of Christmas envelops the little town, Becca discovers that the boy she once loved has become a strong and confident man. And the most delicious Christmas present she can imagine.
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Virgin River, Book #14

The Story: Becca Timm finds herself free during the Thanksgiving holidays and decide to join her twin brother's men-only hunting weekend in Virgin River. Obviously, Becca has no interest in hunting and the real goal of this trip is to see Denny Cutler again. Three years ago, Denny broke up with her before heading for Afghanistan and Becca was devastated. Time has passed and she is now dating a law student, Doug, who is about to propose to her. Unfortunately, as things are right now, Becca wouldn't be able to accept Doug's proposal in good conscience as she's still not over Denny. So Becca is determined to see Denny, get some closure and move on. However, things don't go as planned when Becca breaks her ankle and therefore is stuck in Virgin River for two weeks, in close proximity to Denny, and her boyfriend turns out to be an egoistical jerk...

At first, it's a shock for Denny to see Becca in Virgin River. Although Denny is the one who broke up with Becca, he always loved her... Now that he has a second chance, Denny is not about let it slipped... and he'll make this relationship work no matter what.

My Opinion: Wow, I can't believe Bring Me Home for Christmas is the 14th book in this series... I remember when I picked up Virgin River :) Back then, I didn't know what to expect, but it turned out to be formidable read! Good times really :) Now, I know exactly what to expect from these books... and that's why I continue reading. Comfort :)

Bring Me Home for Christmas is Denny's book. I have to admit when I read the blurb in the bookstore, it took me a few minutes to realize who Denny was ^_^; I hadn't paid much attention to the blurb before that, because this book had slipped under my radar. So I was a bit surprised that it was Denny's book and felt like it came out of nowhere LOL. I guess I expected more buzz - from the author and the bloggers - since Denny is such a great guy :) I was also surprised that Denny got his book so soon because it seems to me his character has not been fleshed enough in the previous installments. Yes, he's been through a lot - his mother's death, the war, a romance that didn't work out and the disappointment that Jake was not his biological father... but most of it happened off the pages, before he came to Virgin River. In the books, the Denny we've seen is a bit uni-dimensional in my opinion: the nice guy who helps around. He's nice, smart, not afraid of hard work, responsible and satisfied with a simple life. I mean, those are great qualities that make him such a likable character. At the same time, I can't help but feel it makes him way too mature for his 25 years old. You'll argue with me that it's because of what he's been through... Yet, it's so at odd with the man who was so enthusiastic learning about farming, seeing the fruits of his labor grow or the one who "ran away" when he learned Jake wasn't his father. Despite how likable and responsible Denny is, I wish we've seen him grow a bit more, find himself a bit before he got his own book... That way not only would I understand him better, but would have also connected more with him. Or if not before his book, than in his book... Unfortunately, Bring Me Home for Christmas was more Becca's book than Denny's book.

Sigh, looks like I got carried away a little LOL. So let me start from the beginning :) I enjoyed Bring Me Home for Christmas and thought it was a nice addition to the series. Becca and Denny were obviously not over each other and they were lucky to get a second chance and it was a nice story for Christmas. Of course, there were some flaws to the book. As a whole, I thought Becca was a nice girl. Young, vibrant and confident, but what I admire most about her was her honesty. Not committing to marriage with her new boyfriend because she might still be hung up on the previous - not many heroines would question themselves as Becca did and take the steps for closure. Not only it was honest with herself, but it was also a mature decision. However, there were definite times when Becca got on my nerves. What bothered me the most is that she didn't really compromise in the romance, in the relationship. Granted, she didn't have to because Denny was pretty quick sacrificing himself and decreeing he was going to follow her anywhere she went and then, she ended up getting a job... But what if she had to? Would she have compromised to make this relationship work? I'm not sure. At the end of it all, I guess I felt Becca was a bit self-centered.

This brings me to the romance. It's always nice to see two lovers get back together especially given it was more circumstantial in the case of Becca and Denny than them growing apart or fighting like crazy. Unfortunately, in Bring Me Home for Christmas, I thought there was not enough focus on the romance. Everything happened really fast. I know that Becca and Denny are familiar with each other, but the readers aren't. I would have liked to see Becca and Denny really work out their relationship, take more time before jumping in. Instead, everything was really rushed and worked out too easily, especially with Denny deciding to go back to San Diego. As you can see, that part really bothered me. I understand that he loved her, but at the same time, he was willing to give up everything - his new friends, his new promising job... and because the romance was not fleshed enough and me, not engaged in enough, I'm not sure that Becca was worth it ^_^; I seriously think the romance would have worked better also if there had been more of Denny's POV. See what he was thinking and feeling. Instead, Bring Me Home for Christmas is 3/4 Becca's POV. That's why earlier, I said that this was more Becca's book than Denny's. That was another disappointment, seeing at how great Denny has been as a character. I was expecting more of him and from this book. At the end, it made me wish that Denny has met a new woman instead of getting back together with Becca ^_^;

My last issue with this book was the whole holiday spirit element. I don't mind theme books at all and I think that what they do in Virgin River is great actually: the Christmas tree, the decorating and the Thanksgiving and Christmas boxes. That's the holidays spirit and how a community should be :) However, I thought Ms Carr went a bit heavy-handed this time around and it impeded on the romance. It felt to me the author wrapped up the romance really fast and then focused on these holidays things to convince the heroine to stay, show her how great Virgin River was and yes, you really want to live here ^_^; If there'd been more balance between the romance and this, it would have been a better book.

Okay, it sounds like I had a lot of issues with this book and perhaps I did, LOL. However, it was also nice to be back in Virgin River and to see everyone. Having Jack and Preacher taking Denny under their wings, I knew we would see them and their family... but this time around, I think Ms Carr did a great job at keeping their appearances as cameos :) Nobody took over the spotlight, it was definitively focused on Becca and Denny :) Overall, Denny and Becca were nice and likable characters with flaws and the story was sweet. Exactly what you expect from a book in this series :)

My Grade: C+.

7 comments:

  1. I confess I completely lost track of this series. I think I read up to Rick's book. But the only one I remember clearly was Preacher's
    :D
    Still, I do love how comforting these books are.

    Thanks for the review!

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  2. There wasn't very much noise about the release of this book was there? I only found out about it a few days ago, probably on your blog!

    Regardless of it being so so I will definitely be reading it! It is a Virgin River book after all.

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  3. I didn’t know who Denny was either! LOL, I just saw Virgin River and knew I had to read it, then I realized that this was The Denny, it took me by surprised because I was expecting him to get his own book latter on, when he was older and wiser!

    And yes, Rebecca was self-centered! And everything gets resolved so easily, I know it’s Christmas but this was beyond your ordinary Christmas miracle! And yep, this book was a bit too cutesy, although not near as cutesy as some of the previous installments. But regardless of all that I keep coming back for more Virgin River, I can’t help it, I’m addicted!

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  4. 14th? Hmmm... I think that puts me about 10 books behind. :) Someday I'll catch up on this series. LOL

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  5. Alex - I think at this point, it's nice to read them in order... but you could kind of pick any if the only ting you're looking for is comfort :)

    Some are better than others, but yeah, comforting :) Hope you enjoy this one if you read it Alex ;)

    Marg - I know!! Was kind of a nice surprise though LOL. And LOL, yes, I think it was on Breezing Through that you realized this one was coming out :)

    Hope you enjoy it Marg!

    Brie - LOL. Yeah, I guess the word I was looking for throughout this review was wiser. Not mature, but wiser :)

    I think the balance between the Christmas theme and the romance was not well done. Perhaps because when the book starts, it's set in Thanksgiving. I think if there's been a bit less about the Christmas boxes, that would have helped. Ah well.

    Leslie - Yep, 14th. I wonder if she plans to end it one day... Hmmm. The town is definitively growing though.

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  6. Oh, I loved the last Virgin River Christmas novella! This is a whole book though, right? Sorry to hear it wasn't a great read for you. :(

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  7. Hilcia - Which one was it again? The one 4th book or the one part of the anthology?

    Yes, this is a whole book :) I think you might enjoy it more than I did, Hils :)

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