Last Christmas Marcie Sullivan said a final goodbye to her husband, Bobby. This Christmas she’s come to Virgin River to find the man who saved his life and gave her three more years to love him. Fellow marine Ian Buchanan dragged Bobby’s shattered body onto a medical transport in Fallujah four years ago, then disappeared as soon as their unit arrived stateside. Since then, Marcie’s letters to Ian have gone unanswered.
Marcie tracks Ian to the tiny mountain town of Virgin River and finds a man as wounded emotionally as Bobby was physically. But she is not easily scared off. As Marcie pushes her way into his rugged and reclusive life, she discovers a sweet but damaged soul beneath a rough exterior.
Ian doesn’t know what to make of the determined young widow who forces him to look into the painful past and, what’s worse, the uncertain future. But it is, after all, a season of miracles and maybe, just maybe, it’s time to banish the ghosts and open his heart.
This book may contain explicit intimate scenes, so if you are not 18+ then I probably wouldn’t recommend it for younger readers.
Marcie and Ian are entirely new characters that us Virgin River readers have never met before. Marcie shows up in Virgin River trying to find her deceased husband’s friend and rescuer. She wants to thank him for saving her husband, to give him a few items, and meet the man she once knew through letters that they exchanged after her husband’s traumatic accident. She has searched high and low for Ian and by some miracle, she finds him living as a recluse in a small cabin. When she first meets him, he is standoffish, intimidating, and even growls at her to get her to leave, but Marcie is made of sterner stuff and doesn’t let his grouchy demeanor get to her.
“What do you want?” “Hey! Why are you mad at me? I just want to talk to you.” “I don’t want to talk,” he said, pushing the door closed. With inexplicable courage, she put her booted foot in its path. “Then maybe you can listen.” “No!” he bellowed. “You’re not going to scare me!” she shouted at him. Then he roared like a wild animal. He bared his teeth, his eyes lit like there were gold flames in them, and the sound that came out of him was otherworldly. She jumped back, her eyes as wide as hubcaps. “Okay,” she said, putting up her hands, palms toward him. “Maybe you do scare me. A little.” His eyes narrowed to angry slits, and he slammed the door again. She yelled at the closed door. “But I’ve come too goddamn far and gone to too much goddamn trouble to be scared for long!” She kicked the closed door as hard as she could, then yelped and hopped around from the pain in her toes.
“Good night, my sweet bear.” Oh, God, how that made his heart swell and lurch. Before he could stop himself, he bent his lips to her temple and placed a soft kiss there. Her hand came up, stroked his hairy face, and she hummed. “The only problem with this is that I can hardly tell when you smile. I so love it when you smile.” “Good night, lightweight.”
Not long after he nodded off, he felt something and opened his eyes. She was beside him on the floor by the stove, wrapped in her sleeping bag, red hair all crazy from sleep. “I got cold, even with the sleeping bag,” she said. “I’ll feed the fire,” Ian replied, sitting up and slipping a couple of logs into the stove. Then he lay back down, giving her room on the pallet beside him and, pulling her close, said, “Come here, little girl. Let me get you warm.” “Hmm. That’s what I need.” “And what I need,” he said, giving her a kiss against her temple.
Ian is hiding after feeling guilt and remorse over what happened to Marcie’s husband – he saved him during battle but he suffered such a great injury that made him bed ridden and practically a vegetable. Marcie becomes ill, which she ends up staying with Ian and he takes care of her. As they spend one together as she recovers, they start to form feelings for one another.
He didn’t even have the door closed behind him when he heard a wild shriek and Marcie leaped at him, her arms around his neck and her legs wrapped around him. “Hey,” he laughed, holding her clear of the floor. “Hey. You’re on me like a tick.” She leaned away from his face. “Are you all right?” “I’m freezing and hungry. Were you scared?” She shook her head stubbornly. “Did you find the boy?” “He was found,” Ian said. “Hurt and cold, but he’s going to be all right. Can you warm and feed me? Would Abigail Adams do that?” “She would, and in between, she’d plow two fields and give birth.”
Marcie felt something on her hair and woke to look into Ian’s rich brown eyes. Dawn was barely lighting the cabin and he was running his big hand over her curls. “Morning,” she said sleepily. He didn’t say anything. He just lowered his lips to hers and touched them gently, sweetly. She felt the brush of his beard, the soft flesh of his lips and let her eyes drop closed. He moved over her mouth for a moment. She moaned and slipped an arm around his neck, holding him there. He pulled back just a little and whispered, “We’re snowed in, honey.” “Good.” “I was jealous of Bobby, you know,” Ian said, petting her hair back along her temple, moving it over her ear. “Be careful, Ian—you’re talking about ‘it.’” “I’m ready to tell you anything you want to know. We were all a little jealous of Bobby. He had something real special with you. You sent him panties.” Her cheeks warmed in spite of herself. Her eyes got very round. “He showed you?” Ian chuckled. “He showed everyone. Very skimpy panties. I think they were lime-green with black lace or something.” “I cannot believe he showed you!” “He was proud of them. He kept them tucked in his inside pocket like a good-luck charm.” “They were perfectly clean, I’ll have you know.” “Aw, that almost comes as a disappointment,” Ian said, chuckling. “They should have had your scent on them.” “They had Tide and Downy on them!” “And you sent him that picture—on the motorcycle.” She put her hands over her face. In muffled tones she muttered, “I’m mortified.” He pulled her hands away and lightly kissed her again. “So the night I almost froze to death was actually the second time you’ve seen me in my underwear.” “Technically, I’ve seen your underwear a ton of times. I came home a couple of times to see your cute little rump sticking out of the covers, not to mention all that underwear on my tub, drying out,” he said. “And I’d trade my life to see you in your underwear again.” Her eyes got round for a minute, but then she smiled slightly and a little laugh escaped her. “I’ve heard some interesting come-ons in my limited experience, but that’s a new one. Tell me, do I have to shoot you after you peek?” “What if I told you, you might have to shoot me to stop me? Would that scare you?” “You don’t scare me, Ian. I know you’d protect me from anything. Even yourself.”
I liked how underneath his muscular build, bushy beard, and standoffish demeanor, he is a kind and gentle man, just like all the Virgin Ricer men are. I thought it was cute how it made his heart beat faster when she’d call him by an endearment, he soaked it up. I also like how midway to the end, he cleans up his look, which I think he did for Marcie.
Before he got five feet, a snowball hit him square in the face. He wiped it away to see her leaning out from behind a big tree, laughing. “Did I mention I was good in softball?” she asked through her laughter. “I pitched!” The chase was on—Ian took after her with a roar that was answered by giggles. He was stronger and more sure in the snow, but she was agile and quick and managed to get off a few snowballs while he was in pursuit. She ran around trees, rounded the shed at least once, took a few snowballs in the back and retaliated. But the chase ended when she tripped on something under the snow and did a face-plant right into the soft white powder. He rushed to her side, scared, and rolled her over to find her laughing and spitting snow. He just looked down at her in wonder—did nothing disturb her? Scare her? Panic or worry her? He covered her mouth with his for a long kiss, and when he let her go she said, “Before we go inside, we should make snow angels.” “I’m not making snow angels,” he said. “What if Buck sees me? It would ruin my reputation forever.” “Just one, then. Yours would be so big—like Gabriel, for sure.” “Then will you go inside with me? No more screwing around?” “Aw—I thought that was your favorite part?” she asked, taking a handful of snow and shoving it in his face. With a growl, he got to his feet, lifted her off the ground and threw her over his shoulder, carrying her back to the cabin. He stood her in front of the door and brushed the snow off her before letting her enter, then did the same himself. “You’ve forgotten how to play,” she accused him. “You play around enough for both of us,” he said.
The end of the snowy day found them together on the couch, Ian leaning back against the arm, stretched out, holding Marcie between his long legs, enjoying her closeness and their conversation. Her head rested against his chest and he stroked her soft hair, catching it between his fingers.
I think Marcie was really good for Ian. By her loving him, helped him feel like he was living for the first time in such a long time and overcome the guilt he has felt for so long. I really enjoyed reading this