Thursday, November 15, 2012

Review: My Kind of Christmas by Robyn Carr

LOL, not the review I was planning for today, but the one that I ended up writing :) Hey as long as I write, it works for me :) Hope you will all enjoy this review! And you know what? I think I'll try to review a Christmas book per week till the actual holidays... I'm in the mood this year! What do you think? Of course, that's if I have read enough LOL, but so far, it does look good :)

My Kind of Christmas by Robyn Carr
published by Harlequin (Mira) in October 2012
Patrick Riordan always thought that nothing could match the adrenaline rush he gets from his job. But this Christmas, Patrick's pulse is really racing...

The Riordan brothers may have a reputation for being rough-and tumble, but Patrick has always been the gentle, sweet-natured one. These days, his easygoing manner is being tested by his high-octane career as a navy pilot. But for the Riordan brothers, when the going gets tough…the tough find the love of a good woman.

Except the woman who has caught Patrick’s attention is Jack Sheridan’s very attractive niece.

Angie LeCroix comes to Virgin River to spend Christmas relaxing, away from her well-intentioned but hovering mother. Yet instead of freedom, she gets Jack Sheridan. If her uncle had his way, she’d never go out again. And certainly not with rugged, handsome Patrick Riordan. But Angie has her own idea of the kind of Christmas she wants—and the kind of man!

Patrick and Angie thought they wanted to be left alone this Christmas—until they meet each other. Then they want to be left alone together. But the Sheridan and Riordan families have different plans for Patrick and Angie—and for Christmas, Virgin River–style!
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Virgin River, Book #20

The Story: Back in March, Angie LeCroix was in a serious car accident resulting in multiple injuries. The most worrisome was the one to the head which required a shunt to be implanted and caused her to be in coma for three days. She fought her way to the world and luckily, came out mentally unscathed. However, the accident did give her a different outlook on life... and because she feels life is short and can change at any moment, Angie is reluctant to go back to her medical student life and resume her studies right away. She wants to experience life, but also do something meaningful... instead of being the "good" girl and letting life passes by her while she is studying. This decision does not please Angie's hovering mother and as a result, Angie decides to head for Virgin River to have some "me" time and figure out what she wants to do.

In Virgin River, Angie meets the youngest of the Riordan brothers, Patrick, who is also reflecting on his future. Like his brothers, Patrick has also chosen a military life and is a Navy pilot. During his last deployment, Patrick lost his best friend, Jake, who was shot down. Due to his grief, Patrick got six weeks of leave... and he is using it to re-evaluate his career, especially since he has the notion that he must take care of his best friend's widow and son.

When Angie and Patrick meet, sparks fly between the two and the attraction is too tempting to resist. Can these two mend together, knowing there's an expiration date to their relationship looming? In addition to their own lives, Angie takes it upon herself to help a little girl to get a brighter future.

My Opinion: Wow, 20th book!! How did this happen? I can still remember picking up Virgin River at the bookstore because of its cover and it being a Mira book and thinking the blurb was interesting. And then, the wild goose chase to get my hands on the Grace Valley trilogy... Time just flies LOL. Anyway, I have to admit that my enthusiasm towards the Virgin River series has dimmed a little bit in the past year. Part of it has had to do with the over-saturation of the market with small town romance books... but quite frankly, a lot of it has had to do with underwhelming storylines as well. I still like Virgin River, but the recent characters and stories simply didn't do it for me... The last book in this series that I've truly enjoyed was Wild Man Creek, so it's been a while. I just feel the series has started growing a tad repetitive and redundant. As a result, I have yet to read the last two installments... So why did I pick up My Kind of Christmas? Because Ms Carr usually has something up her sleeve for the Christmas installment, but mainly because it featured Patrick - the last of the Riordan brothers to get his book - and also because I was on a contemporary romance binge... and despite everything I said above about being tired of the series, etc., in the end, I'm glad I picked up My Kind of Christmas because it worked out well for me :)

The reason why My Kind of Christmas worked for me was because I enjoyed Angie and Patrick and their romance. Angie and Patrick were both very likable characters and also very honest with themselves, but each other as well. The beginning of their relationship was a bit fast to my taste - they pretty much see each other, are attracted, flirt and the next thing you know, they're sleeping with each other and having a fling. However, despite the fast start, their romance was quite sweet and they had good chemistry together. I felt Angie had youth, but at the same time, she was very mature and matched Patrick well. As for Patrick, he was a really good guy. It was interesting that among the five Riordan brothers, he was the one with the sweetest nature and temperament - a nice change of pace :) He was a little bit misguided though and the idea of marrying his friend's widow to take care of her, that was really stupid. I think someone should have told him point blank in addition to the fact that the widow would have a say in it as well ^_^; To assume she would marry him, men can be so dense!. In the end though, I'm glad he chose Angie on his own, without prompting. Although I have to say, it would have been nice for Angie to fight for Patrick, instead of being so selfless. Still, overall, I just enjoyed Angie and Patrick's interactions, seeing them falling into this relationship.

As much as I complained about the series becoming a bit repetitive and redundant, it was nice though to be back in Virgin River and see some familiar faces as well as some traditions such as the tree going up :) Given that the heroine was Jack's niece and the hero, one of the Riordan brothers, it didn't bother me as much to re-visit previous characters. Some of the family intrusions were fun - especially when Patrick's mother showed up LOL. Others were a bit overbearing like Jack... but at the end of the day, it was heart-warming to see Angie and Patrick have families that love and support them :)

The only part that I didn't care that much was the storyline with Megan, the little girl who was disfigured and whom Angie decided to help out. It didn't bother me like it did with Brie, because I think Angie's interest was genuine... and as "marketing" as it sounded, it fit the Christmas miracle theme. What bothered me about it though was two things: 1) how easy the miracle unfolded - it was a bit unbelievable how fast Angie was able to manage it, even with Mel's previous work about it... and 2) the poverty. I know the people living in Virgin River are not rich, a lot of them live from day to day, month to month or/and season to season. It's one thing though to be aware and another thing to read about it ^_^; Sure, I want my books to be realistic, but there are some instances, I don't mind the idealization... It's one thing to read about a heroine/hero who is broke, because you know that usually, it'll turn around. But a community... it's harder, sadder and not something you want to read about if your purpose is to escape.

My Grade: B. My Kind of Christmas was a sweet and enjoyable read :) It hit the right spot at the right moment for me and as such, I'm glad I picked it up. It was also nice to re-visit Virgin River :)


  1. There's something weird about the poverty in Virgin River. I like that it makes the town realistic, and we keep seeing more portrayals of it (there was that drunk character in the first few books, and the drug dealers, and those farmers that went bankrupt and had to abandon the horse in the middle of the road, remember the horse?) so there's no sugarcoating the dark side. But they all seem to exist to make the main characters more heroic. I think the drunk lady who was in love with Jack is the only one who's ever ended up getting a HEA, right? I have the same issues with the poverty than I did with the little kid. Seriously, just bring back the damn bear and leave the poor people alone. Or at least give them some agency and make them get through their issues by their own means.

    This book is making me ranty! LOL I'm glad you liked it, though. I can't seem to be able to quit this series, so I'm looking forward to the next one.

  2. I loved the original Virgin River Christmas story. I actually re-read that one every year. I'm really glad you enjoyed this one too. :D

    RE: Your discussion. You know I don't mind realism with my fiction or my romance, I think it gives it depth instead of taking it into the "fantasy" realm. There are poor communities out there, people in need, and who is to say that romance doesn't happen in those communities? Whether it is between the people in need or the ones who choose to help them? Those romances can be just as beautiful and can easily serve as an escape as the ones set in bright, shiny places. Why not? :)

    Having said that, I read Brie's mini and see her point, particularly if as you say that storyline about the little girl (the miracle) unfolded rather easily. And the guy marrying the widow just to help? Not too swift... but although I'm not reading this series any longer, maybe I'll return to Virgin River one more time just for Christmas. :D

  3. I'm glad the story worked for you this time around, I kind of lost track after the four or fifth book (though I actually just remember the second book the most, because it was the one I liked best).

    The fast miracle thing could bother me a lot, depends on how it was written because I do understand that with novellas things need to happen fast but at the same time, I want to believe it too, you know?

    As for the realism and poverty, well, it also depends. Sometimes I wonder if the author is just doing it for shock value, or to add a touch of the pathetic to the story and bring out an emotion. Pilling on the bad stuff often seems like a cheap shot to me.

    But, I usually prefer happier books anyway.

  4. Brie - Nope, I actually don't remember the horse LOL.

    See, while Virgin River is a "poor" community, my problem with it is that it doesn't seem to affect the main characters of the books... and as you say, it seems to make them more "heroic" instead. So I hear you on leaving the poor people aside LOL. Although the bear... Hmmmm.

    By the way, are you certain there's a next one? I know her next release is not part of the Virgin River series... Apparently, it'll be more like Summer in Sonoma which I didn't like at all! :( I can't seem to find any info on the next VR book...

    Hilcia - I enjoyed the original book too, although I haven't re-read it ever. Perhaps I should do that for this Christmas...

    Sure, romance can happen in poor communities... but I don't know, as a reader, I guess I just don't find it as appealing. Like I have no problem with characters that are hard-working and honest... but to read about characters that are living in fear of losing their houses and so on... it's just not as entertaining ^_^;

    Alex - LOL, yeah, eventually, the books start to blend together when a series gets so long...

    Well it was written in a way that it was believable. There was work involved in it for the miracle to happen. For me though, it was more timeline wise that it felt fast.

    And yes, sometimes, it does feel that way for me with the poverty... Especially when the author is not consistent with it. And like you, I do prefer happy books as well :)