Whispering Rock by Robyn Carr
A decorated U.S. Marine reservist, LAPD officer Mike Valenzuela was badly wounded in the line of duty, but has found hope and healing in Virgin River. When he agrees to become the town's first cop, he does so knowing it's time he settled down. Twice divorced and the lover of too many women, he secretly longs for the kind of commitment and happiness his marine buddies have found--a woman who can tie up his heart forever.
He finds that woman in Brie Sheridan, a Sacramento prosecutor who understands his drive to protect and serve. Virgin River becomes a safe haven for Brie after nearly losing her life at the hands of a crazed criminal. Though tough and courageous, she's got some fears she can't escape--but now she has someone who will show her just what it means to trust again. Mike will do anything to help Brie free herself from painful memories. Passionate, strong and gentle, he vows to give back to her what she's so selflessly given him--her heart, and with it, a new beginning.
I wasn't sure I would enjoy Mike's book...he has long been described as a hound dog who was unable or uninterested in being faithful to a woman, but rather played the field often and well. However, lying in a hospital bed, close to death afforded him a lot of time to think and he found he had quite a few regrets. He is determined that he will live his life in a way that he can be happy and part of that is moving to Virgin River to be near some Marine buddies. While there, he finds himself working hard to regain the strength and agility in his shoulder that was lost during the shooting and later convalescence. When he hears that his friend Jack's little sister was attacked and raped by a defendant she tried to prosecute, but who walked, he can't sit on his hands and do nothing, so he heads to her hospital bedside and keeps vigil. He has long had his eye on Brie, but she was always in love with her husband and that was one line he didn't want to cross.
Watching Mike help bring Brie out of the shell she retreats into after her attack is sweet, beautiful, and a bit tearful at times. Shortly before her attack, she learned that her husband had been cheating on her with her ex-best friend for at least a year. The past year has been beyond painful for her and having a man like Mike step up to help shoulder her burden allows Brie the breathing room she needs to survive the multiple hardships that have come her way. Mike plays his guitar, speaks Spanish sweet nothings into her ear, and is always there to lend a hand while treating her more normally than anyone else in Brie's family. Brie's brother, Jack who is well aware of Mike's history with women, is not happy with Mike's new place in Brie's life and this leads to some complications but overall things work out. While this is a typical Virgin River novel in the sense that lots of page time is spent on other story lines (a potential teenage date-raper in Virgin Valley, the death of a Marine and the town's rallying around his widow, the continuation of Mel/Jack and Preacher/Paige, and more) I never felt that Brie and Mike got shortchanged. Their story was always the backbone to everything else and I found myself enjoying all of the different plot elements while always being happy when the focus returned to Mike and Brie.
By necessity, both Mike and Brie have lots of physical and emotional healing to do, the romance is slow moving. It was all the more beautiful for the fact that it wasn't rushed. Watching them begin to take larger and larger roles in each other's lives was touching and you could see the point where they became more comfortable together than they would ever again be apart. The total support they gave each other along with the witty banter and the sexy times when they were ready all came together to create one of the most complete romances I have read about in a while. I really believe whole-heartedly in the strength and endurance of their HEA.