Marine corporal Rick Sudder is home early from Iraq–his tour ended abruptly on the battlefield. The carefree boy is gone, replaced by a man who believes his future is as bleak as his mirror image. But can the passion and commitment of a young woman who has never given up on him mend his broken body and shattered heart?As the people of Virgin River rally around Rick, another recent arrival tests the tightly knit mountain town’s famous welcoming spirit. Dan Brady has a questionable past, and he’s looking for a place to start over. He’d like it to be Virgin River…if he can find a way in. But he never expects to find it in the arms of a woman who was as much an outcast as himself.
For a favorite son returned from war and an outsider looking for a home, Virgin River offers them a chance to make peace with the men they once were…and to find the dreams they thought they’d lost.
This book may contain explicit intimate scenes, so if you are not 18+ then I probably wouldn’t recommend it for younger readers.
With this story we finally get to see Rick and Liz’s relationship progress and somewhat plunder at times. Both were in the previous books, but they were teens. Now Rick is 20, a marine, and Liz is 18, just finishing high school. He is wounded in Iraq, losing his right leg up to his mid thigh. Now, usually I love to read about wounded or disfigured war heroes, but for some reason it just didn’t jive with me like the others I’ve read. I think what didn’t work with well for me was Rick’s anger and hostility towards those who tried to help him – Liz and Jack. I mean, I get his life has dramatically changed and I don’t expect him to be all sunshine and roses, but his negative attitude was a bit much.
“Hey!” She turned toward him, frowning. He slowly and clumsily descended the porch steps, walking toward her, his limp suddenly much more pronounced. Dan saw Rick leave and followed, standing just outside the bar door on the porch, his arms crossed over his chest. Watching. Listening. “You do that on purpose?” Rick yelled at Liz. “Just to punish me?” She shook her head. “What are you talking about?” He got a little closer. “Acting like I don’t exist like that. You won’t even look at me. Is that how bad I gross you out?” “Shut up, Rick. You’re acting like an ass again.” “I’m an ass? For asking why you won’t even look at me?” “I thought that’s what you wanted! You want everything we were to just go away! Right?” “It’s not exactly like that,” he said. “Bullshit, it is like that! You said we can’t even be friends! So back off—you got just what you wanted!” Jack had heard the shouting, knew who it was and stepped out of the bar. He was about to go after Rick, shut him up before it got worse, but Dan put an arm across his chest. “Let it happen,” Dan said. “I care about Liz. If Rick’s going to be a jackass, she doesn’t deserve—” “Let it happen,” Dan said. “She’s fighting back.” “I don’t know,” Jack said, shaking his head. “It’s their bone, Jack. Don’t chew on it.”
And he knew that just that smile alone, let alone that face that could stop traffic, must have been driving Rick crazy. He had to be one messed-up dude to let her go. To her back as she was leaving, Rick said, “Can’t you even say hello?” She slowly turned, regarded him coldly and said, “To you? Not till you grow up.” And then she left.
I will say Liz has matured a whole lot since she first appeared in the series at 14. I know she loves Rick, but I don’t see how she had the patience to deal with him. Also I liked how she gave him a taste of his own medicine – he ignored her when she tried to talk to him, but when she starts to ignore him like he doesn’t exist after he dumped her, well it’s a different story.
Cam had slipped under her legs, resting them on his thighs to keep them elevated, so she was too cozy to stay awake. She looked over at him and had to stifle a laugh. His feet were up on the trunk, his head tilted back, his mouth open, and his hand snaked under her sweatshirt to feel her belly. But the movement of the babies hadn’t roused him.
“I don’t think you can help,” he said, turning away from her and heading for the kitchen. She followed him. “You don’t really know, though, do you? Until you run it by me?” “It’s kind of embarrassing,” he said, not facing her. “For God’s sake, I look at cracks and talk about sex for a living. You can’t embarrass me.” He turned around. “I was thinking it would be embarrassing for me.” “Well, get over it. I’m your midwife.” He took a deep breath. “Abby and I are getting along very well. It’s incredible. Better than I thought it could be. We’re so compatible. And last night I slept beside her, holding her and the babies….” He dropped his chin. “Aw,” Mel said. “That’s sweet. I’m so happy, Cam.” “And woke up with my hand up her shirt and with the biggest hard-on.” Mel looked momentarily perplexed. “I’m sorry. Did I need to know that?” “I can’t believe how much just being near her is getting to me. I can’t let her think that—I mean, I let her think it would be completely safe for me to just lie beside her and… Aw, Christ. I have no control at all. What a damn mess.” “Cameron, take it easy. Most of that’s just nature. Huh? It happens all night long. I’m sure Abby knows that.” “It’s not just happening when I’m asleep. I really have a problem here. I’ve wanted that woman since the first second I saw her, but she’s in no condition for me to want her like that. What kind of man wants to… I mean, I won’t touch her, I swear I won’t. But if she thinks she’s not safe from my instincts, then I’ll be sent back up to the loft. And I don’t want to go back up to the loft!” He took a breath, shook his head dismally. “I should probably go back up to the loft.”
I know this was suppose to be Rick and Liz’s story, but my favorite parts were with Cameron and Abby. They first appeared in previous books and I’m glad Robyn decided to write more about them and give them a happy ending in this book. I liked how Cameron wanted to be more than just a father to their twins, he wanted to marry Abby and be a family. It was cute and a bit mischievous of him having her move in with him so he can help her when the babies come, to watch her, and secretly hoping he could woo her into making her fall in love with him. I just loved his character.
“I’d like to see my niece, if you don’t mind.” “She’ll be here pretty soon. But there’s another thing. I’d like your permission to ask Shelby to be my wife.” Walt ground his teeth. “You’re really pressing your luck.” “Oh, you don’t know the half.” Luke chuckled before he could stop himself. “Almost thirty-nine years old and I’m buying into the whole program. It’s not even one of her conditions—it’s one of mine. General Booth, she’s everything to me. I can’t live without her. I thought I could and I tried, but it’s too late for me. I’m in love with Shelby. I’m going to be in love with her for the rest of my life.” Walt was sitting straighter. He moved to the edge of his chair. “What about her education? What about a family? I think my niece wants a family and I heard you say that wasn’t—” “You probably heard me say a lot of things I thought I meant and didn’t, sir. Shelby can have anything she wants, do anything she wants—I’ll support her. I’m not going to waste her time, sir. If she’ll marry me, I’ll give her everything I have, go anywhere she needs me to go. She won’t ever again leave my house thinking I don’t care about her. That could have been the biggest mistake of my lifetime.” Walt smiled in spite of himself. “Learned your lesson, did you, boy?” Luke didn’t mind so much being called a boy by this military icon, but the truth hit him pretty hard. “Oh, man,” he said, shaking his head. “You have no idea.” Walt leaned back. “I like seeing you humbled a little bit, Riordan. What if I withhold my permission?” “Oh, I’ll ask her anyway. I’ll tell her you disapprove and ask her to overlook that. But I’d like to do this right, sir. I’ve made enough mistakes—I don’t want to make one more.” “Hmm,” Walt hummed. “I guess I can still be surprised….” “Sir?” “I didn’t figure you for intelligence.”
When she stood from the couch and faced him, she looked into his beautiful blue eyes and said, “Would you like to sleep next to your children?” His eyes were startled, his mouth agape. “It won’t be like the last time,” she hastened to promise. He smiled slowly. “It will be even better,” he said, slipping his hand over her belly. “Whoa,” he laughed. “It’s up to you.” “I wouldn’t pass up an invitation like that. I’d like to feel all of you up against me, cozy and safe.” “Then come on.” Abby had her turn in the bathroom first and when Cam came out, she had changed into a huge T-shirt that came almost to her knees and, he assumed, panties. So he stripped down to his boxers and crawled in, curling around her back. “Nice,” he whispered against the back of her neck. “Mmm,” she hummed, snuggling in. His hands found her belly and rested there and sleep found him, content and confident for the first time in so long. He was going to make this work. Yes, he was.
“God, I hope this doesn’t make you angry or really offend you. But you should know—I get turned on by you all the time. All I have to do is see your eyes, smell your skin, touch you, even innocently. And I just about go out of my mind. My feelings haven’t changed one bit since that first night I met you. The second I touched you, it was like an explosion under my skin. I told you I wanted us to be friends, but the truth is, I’ve always wanted so much more than that. Abby, the truth is, I had ulterior motives. I thought if I got you under the same roof with me, I could get you to fall in love with me.”
Cameron stared down at the kettle on the stove. She wouldn’t understand this, but he wished he could have been there for that. He’d like to be around for even the worst parts of the pregnancy; he’d like to be the one she complained to, blamed, criticized and harangued. Even though he was already getting plenty of that, he hated that she suffered her upset without his arms around her, comforting her as she calmed down. Crazy as it was, he wanted to watch her turn pea green, shoot for the bathroom, come out white as a sheet and fall into his arms. He’d like to be the partner, not the silent partner. He’d like to feel her big belly pressed up against him at night, waking him with the romping inside.