lunes, 21 de diciembre de 2015

Virgin River (Virgin River #1) - Robyn Carr

"Wanted: Midwife/nurse practitioner in Virgin River, population six hundred. Make a difference against the backdrop of towering California redwoods and crystal-clear rivers. Rent-free cabin included." 

When the recently widowed Melinda Monroe sees this ad she quickly decides that the remote mountain town of Virgin River might be the perfect place to escape her heartache, and to reenergize the nursing career she loves. But her high hopes are dashed within an hour of arriving: the cabin is a dump, the roads are treacherous and the local doctor wants nothing to do with her. Realizing she's made a huge mistake, Mel decides to leave town the following morning. But a tiny baby, abandoned on a front porch, changes her plans...and a former marine cements them into place.

This has been my first full romance novel ever. I promise to resist every lame virgin pun. Can we have a look to my GR updates?

I was excited to be reading this! So many opinions.

I liked it. I know I sound surprised, and I shouldn't, because it so judgemental to think badly of romance novels without ever having read one. Hi, I'm Masanobu, a former book snob on the way to recovery. I asked for help, and happily Maria Helena pointed me to Robyn Carr and her Virgin River series, and here I am.

I don't know whether I would have been drawn to the story on my own. It's true that I love medical shenanigans and stories set in small towns, but I'm not big on babies (I do like puppies and ice cream, for the record). And they are a big part of the plot. It's right there in the back of the book. But I gave it a try and, while Virgin River is not devoid of problems, I enjoyed reading it. 

The story is very much a slice of life - it's very quiet. What moves the plot forward is the emotional journey of Melinda, who is trying to get over the death of her husband to be able to function in society again. With time, she forms a friendship with Jack, an ex-marine living in Virgin River, and they both develop feelings for each other. Mel harbors contradicting emotions of love for Jack and betrayal to her dead husband, which were very well portrayed, with much sensitivity. It was easy to feel empathy for her. The initial sexual tension and sex scenes were tastefully written - delicate, but powerful. They made you feel the love between both characters. 

The pace became a little uneven after Jack and Mel get together, though, and I lost a bit of interest on the story. Too much shirt yanking, too few meaningful interactions for my taste. I had my heart set on the wedding and birth, and on the resolution of some of the secondary characters' storylines, so coming to the end without my resolution made me a bit cranky. I guess it's because Virgin River is the first novel of a long saga, but it feels like a cheap trick to make me want to read more. I would have read the subsequent novels anyway - I want to know more about Doc, Liz and Ricky, Connie, Preacher and the couples in Grace Valley. The characters have grown on me. After a few  days, I find myself wondering how they all are doing. I didn't expect to get attached to these people so easily.

What I couldn't wrap my head around was Melinda's recklessness regardind unprotected sex. She is a midwife and an expert on women's health. Even if she thought she was infertile, she should have thought about STDs. That rattled me, and I knew that Mel would get pregnant. As I said, I'm not crazy about babies, so it was hard to identify with her yearning. But that I can get behind. My problem with this storyline is that it is a bit lazy. Pregnancy and overcoming infertility to signify emotional healing and/or growth is so old it's one of Propp's fairy tales functions. It's symbolic, yes, a new life substitutes the life lost, bonds characters and reminds them of their mortality and will to make the most of life. But I wish Mel could have healed before getting pregnant. On the other hand, babies are such a big part of who Mel is that this pregnancy definitely makes sense. By what I've gathered about romance, it seems to rely a lot on conventions. Quite like folk tales, everything is a bit mythic. Am I probably overthinking this? Yes, I am. I'm conflicted, what can you do.

I just have one question for all you who have read Robyn Carr: are there really towns in the US like this one? It felt so quintessentially American that it rang a bit false - shooting bears in the wild, Hummers, rifles, fishing. It amused me, but I couldn't fully get in the setting because of this. I was expecting something similar to Gilmore Girls' Stars Hollow, and I almost got Little House on the Prairie!

Any recs for a romance newbie?

2 comentarios:

  1. I've only read two romance novels, so like you, I was pushing myself out of my somewhat snobby comfort zone to give them a try. I found Stephanie Laurens And Then She Feel to be a lot more fun than I expected, but it did seem a cliched and I can easily see her other books feeling formulaic. I loved The Dark Queen by Susan Carroll though. I thought it did a good job integrating the sex into the story without letting it take over and mess up the plot. I'm sure people who read romance more often would have better recommendations, but that's the one I'd suggest :)

    1. Recs from newbies that are as scared as I am are great. You get what I fear to encounter, so I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy The Dark Queen. I'll try to read during February for your Reluctant Romantic Challenge :)