John “Preacher” Middleton is about to close the bar when a young woman and her three-year-old son come in out of a wet October night. A marine who has seen his share of pain, Preacher knows a crisis when he sees one—the woman is covered in bruises. He wants to protect them, and he wants to punish whoever did this to her, but he knows immediately that this inclination to protect is something much more. Paige Lassiter has stirred up emotions in this gentle giant of a man—emotions that he has never allowed himself to feel.
But when Paige’s ex-husband turns up in Virgin River, Preacher knows his own future hangs in the balance. And if there’s one thing in the marines’ motto of Semper Fidelis—always faithful—has taught him, it’s that some things are worth fighting for.
This book may contain explicit intimate scenes, so if you are not 18+ then I probably wouldn’t recommend it for younger readers.
Paige is on the run with her son from her ex husband when she stumbles into the Virgin River bar. She is a skittish, battered woman who doesn’t trust easily but Preacher sees her pain – both emotional and physical and he can’t resist to come to her aid.
Being around her gentled him, steadied him. Made him want to be a better man. It also had another, more disquieting effect; when she brushed up against him, when he caught a whiff of her sweet, natural scent, he could almost become aroused. The three of them had been in each other’s constant company for weeks, and his attachment to Chris was strengthening, his affection for Paige deepening by the day. By the hour. When he took her small hand in his, she never pulled it away and he loved that. Sometimes he’d drape an arm over her shoulders, just to let her know he was right there, watching, caring, and she would lean into him a little. He wanted this to never end.
“I’m gonna tell you something, and you’re going to act like you never heard it. You get me?” “Sure,” Preacher said, throwing back the shot for courage. “I caught your girl crying today.” Shock settled over Preacher’s face. “That’s right, old man. She can’t figure you out. I think she loves you, Preacher. She’s waiting. She needs some attention. You with me?” Preacher nodded solemnly. He wasn’t going to go there with Mike. “She thinks you don’t find her attractive. Desirable.” “Aw, that’s crap,” Preacher said. He poured himself another shot. “I’m telling you. You don’t have any excuses here, pal. If you don’t step up, she’s going to think you don’t want her. Don’t care about her. I’d hate it if she thought that because I’m looking at the two of you, the three of you, and I think it’d be a damn stupid shame if you three lost one another because you’re an idiot. Now, I’m not going to try to guess why it’s not happening for you two. Preacher, buddy, it’s time to make it happen.” Preacher threw back that second shot while Mike merely lifted his, not drinking. “I thought you were messing with my girl,” Preacher confessed. “No, I was telling her to try to be patient with you because of your, you know, extra-low IQ.” Then he grinned at Preacher’s scowl. “You always used to mess with anybody’s girl,” he said. “Not just anybody’s girl, Preach. I’d never touch a brother’s woman, you should know that. Even I don’t cross that line. Even if you haven’t made it clear to Paige, you’ve made it clear to everyone else—she’s your girl. Besides, I’m no threat to you. It’s you she wants. Bad enough to make her cry about it.” Mike took in about half his drink and stood up. “Do yourself a favor, Preacher. Your girl needs you and you don’t want to let her down now. Don’t waste another minute.” He left the rest of his drink. He stared into Preacher’s eyes. “You better take care of business. You copy?” Copy, Preacher thought. Cop talk. “Yeah. I copy.”
Preacher is a big hulk of a man, clocking around 6’4-6’5, 250 pounds, shaved head and very intimidating to others, but in reality when given the chance to truly know him, he’s a shy gentle giant. He isn’t a ladies man, nor has he been with a lot of woman – not like his marine buddies – so it was a bit comical on how he acted around Page once he forms feelings for her. Even though he doesn’t have much experience with kids, Preacher is a natural with Page’s son Chris. He helped watch him, take care of him, read him a bedtime story and then tuck him into bed, plus he fixed Chris’s teddy bears leg. He was just super cute with Page and her son. I love a book with a big bear of a man whom appears tough and unapproachable by others but is gentle, kind, tender, and sweet with the ones he loves.
She frowned as she looked at the bear, changed. He had a new leg, sewn out of blue-and-gray plaid. It wasn’t exactly the same shape as the surviving leg; it was just a stuffed flannel tube stuck on the bear, but he was symmetrical now. “What did you do?” she asked, taking the bear. Preacher shrugged. “I told him I’d give it a try. Looks pretty silly, I guess, but it was a good idea at the time.”
Jack was mesmerized by the sight of her, naked in front of those mirrors. He hadn’t really seen her like that. He’d seen her naked, of course, but lying down or standing almost a foot shorter than he as they showered. Now he bent, looked at her profile and said, “My God, Melinda. You’re huge.” She threw him a look that suggested a different choice of words. “I mean, you look awesome, Mel. Look at that!” “Shut up, Jack,” […] When they got to Sam Sheridan’s house, Mel preceded Jack up the walk toward the front door while Jack began toting luggage and gifts. “Mel,” he called, causing her to turn around to see him smiling brightly. “You’re starting to waddle,” he said proudly. “Uh!” she exclaimed, tossing her hair as she turned abruptly away from him. […] Jack was frowning darkly. A couple of the brothers-in-law, Dan and Ryan, came forward and said, “Need a hand unloading, Jack?” “Yeah,” he said, his brows drawn together. “What’s the problem?” Ryan asked. “I said exactly those two words to her—huge and waddle—and she was very pissed about it.” The men laughed. Bob clamped a hand on his shoulder. “Come, my brother. Let’s get you unloaded, get you a beer and teach you the facts of life. Out back, where men will be men and the women won’t hear us.” Outside on the patio, now too cold for picnicking, there were a couple of large space heaters thoughtfully provided by Sam, who knew the men of the family would want their beer and cigars without interference. And where Sam also wanted to be, while his daughters overran his house and bossed people around. With Mel and Joey, there were six, not to mention granddaughters—a formidable and intimidating group of women. It was there that Jack learned from the experience of four brothers-in-law and the occasional comment from Sam, that if having children was a partners’ project, pregnancy was definitely a team sport. The women were the ones who knew the rules. What a man said and what girlfriends or sisters said were viewed from entirely different perspectives. If your sister said you were huge, it was a badge of honor. If your husband said that, he thought you were fat. If your best friend said you waddled, it was adorable. If your husband said that, he thought you walked funny and he no longer found you attractive. “And look out,” said Joey’s husband, Bill, father of three, “if you try to make love to her, she thinks you’re a pervert, and if you don’t, she’ll accuse you of no longer finding her desirable as she sacrifices herself to bear your child.” “The last time we had sex, instead of crying out ‘Oh, God, Oh, God,’ she said ‘Ugh.’” Ryan spewed out a mouthful of beer and fell into a fit laughter. “Been there, brother,” he finally choked out. “You wanna know what’s coming, or you wanna be surprised?” Bob asked. “Oh, please, I can’t take any more surprises,” Jack said. “Okay, you’re coming up on where you love the baby more than her. Everything is about the baby—you consider her your brood mare.” “What do you do about that?” “Well, for starters, never talk about breeding.” “Grovel,” said someone else. “Beg for forgiveness.” “But don’t trip yourself up and claim she’s way more important than the baby, which brings you a whole new set of problems.” “Aw, Jesus.” “And since you don’t have the big belly and the backache, it would be advisable not to mention that this is all completely natural. She might deck you.” “You’d think a frickin’ midwife could rise above these ridiculous notions.” “Oh, it’s not her fault. There was an estrogen explosion in there—it’s beyond her control.” “You want to be especially careful about admiring her breasts,” Jeannie’s husband, Dan, said. He took a pull on his cigar. “Especially since they’re, you know, only temporary.” “God, that’s gonna be so hard. Because—” “I know.” Someone else laughed. “Aren’t they great?” “Pretty soon there’s going to be labor and delivery,” Bill said. “And the love of your life, whose back you’re trying to rub and whom you’re doing everything in your power to encourage, to keep comfortable, is going to tell you to shut up and get your fucking hands off her.” Everyone laughed so hard at that, even Sam, that it appeared to be a universal fact. “Dad,” Jack said, stunned. “Did Mom ever say fuck?” Sam drew leisurely on his cigar. “I think about five times,” he replied, throwing the men into a new fit of laughter. “Why doesn’t anyone tell you these things before?” Jack asked. “What difference would it have made, Jack? You didn’t know you were about to score a pregnancy, anyway. I know, I know—you thought you knew everything there was to know about women. Turns out you’re just as stupid as the rest of us.”
I also love how Robyn gives you lots of updates on the characters from previous books. Since I was a big fan of Jack and Mel, I really enjoyed the bits about them besides Page and Preachers story as well. With this one, Mel is further along in her pregnancy and the comments Jack makes about the changes in her body and her bump are hilarious. He means well, but since Mel is experiencing a lot of hormonal emoticons, the biggest majority of the time she takes his well meant comments in a different light. I just how how he’d always managed to stick his foot in his mouth. It was totally priceless.