Wanted: Midwife/nurse practitioner in Virgin River, population six hundred. Make a difference against a 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 re-energize 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 former marine Jack Sheridan cements them into place.
I have wanted to read the Virgin River series for a while now after reading about them on so many other blogs. I was always a bit hesitant due to the size of the series but decided that the only thing to do was to dive right in and not worry about anything else. It turned out to be the right choice as I enjoyed this first entry quite a bit.
Melinda is ready for a complete change but when she gets to Virgin River she wonders if she has bitten off more than she can chew...especially when she sees the tumble down cabin with the falling down porch she is expected to live in. Meeting the taciturn doctor she is supposed to be working with who obviously doesn't want her presence around is another huge clue that not everything is as it was advertised. The only good thing that happens on her first night in Virgin River is the delicious dinner she eats at Jack's bar and cafe.
When Melinda decides she has made a huge mistake and goes to leave, she sees a newborn infant, only hours old, in a box outside the doc's house. She takes it in, checks it out, and decides to stay in Virgin River until social services can find a home for the baby. While she is waiting, she is slowly but surely pulled into the lives of Virgin River's citizens and she begins to make herself a place in their community. She delivers the babies of a few women, makes friendships with a small group of doctors and nurses in a nearby town, watches a soap opera every afternoon with two women who have been best friends their entire lives, and most evenings ends her day with a beer at Jack's.
Jack is a former marine who takes care of the people of Virgin River in a variety of ways from offering great food at low prices, lending a hand when and where it is needed, helping raise a teenage boy whose parents died when he was young, and helping out one of his former marines under his command by giving him a job and a place to stay. When he sees Mel, this forty year old man who has always made it a point not to commit to a woman, decides she's it for him and begins to make decisions in his life that will give him the best chance at a relationship with Mel, even before he knows she is interested. Jack was probably my favorite character in this book, although there is definitely a large ensemble cast as this book really does an amazing job of making the reader feel as if they are also a part of Virgin River.
While there is a strong romance thread in the book, it shares the spotlight with lots of other story lines which is not always my favorite but in this instance it worked for me. I am wondering if future installments will continue to have lots of time away from the main romance or if this book is an anomaly because of the world building that is happening. Because of all these different story lines, there is a lot that happens in this book and I really liked reading about almost all of them and just like any place where different people are living in close(ish) proximity to each other, some people were easier to like than others with a few being downright unpleasant. I wouldn't mind reading more about some of the people if there were to mosey into books later on in the series.