Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Forbidden Falls: An Extreme Makeover, Virgin River Style

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

(Note: While this review will not contain spoilers for Forbidden Falls, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from previous Virgin River books. Do yourself a favor and read the series in order!)

What do you get when you cross a minister, a stripper and an old church in serious need of a facelift?

No, that's not the opening to a dirty joke, it's the premise behind Forbidden Falls, Book 9 in Robyn Carr's heartwarming Virgin River series. Although the book actually follows a novella (titled "Under the Christmas Tree," it can be found in the Christmas collection "That Holiday Feeling!"), it picks up where Paradise Valley (Book 7) left off. The story begins with the old town church. Once a beautiful sanctuary, it's now a crumbling wreck. No one in their right mind would buy it, which gives crusty Hope McCrea a bright idea - she can auction it off on eBay. Her idea works like a dream, bringing newly-ordained minister Noah Kincaid into town.

Noah fits no one's idea of a preacher. He's young, handsome, down-to-Earth and decidedly more comfortable in a flannel shirt and ragged jeans than a shiny suit. What he lacks in experience, he makes up for in enthusiasm. Most importantly, he's got some inheritance money. Not a lot, but enough to give the church a well-deserved extreme makeover. It doesn't take long, though, before he realizes the project's a lot bigger than he can handle alone. Enter Ellie Baldwin. She's not what Noah had in mind for a preacher's assistant. With her tight clothes, pancake makeup and teased hair, she is, in fact, the exact wrong type of girl to be helping with the job. Noah knows tongues will never stop wagging if he hires the sexy 25-year-old. Too bad she's a whiz with a broom, a dynamo with a paintbrush, and the best darn organizer he's ever known. In short, she's the perfect person for the dirty, dusty, overwhelming chore of whipping the church into shape. Against his better judgment, he hires her.

The more Noah gets to know Ellie, the more he realizes how wrong first impressions can be. Ellie's a strong, hardworking woman who wants only one thing - to get her children back from her control freak ex-husband. As the only clergy in town, Noah feels obligated to help. Between working together at the church every day and wrangling with Ellie's legal problems, the two grow closer and closer. Noah's growing especially attached - does Ellie feel the same way? She's been hurt so much in the past that she's sworn off men forever. Does that mean Noah will never get a chance to love the woman who's awoken all the feelings he thought he'd buried with his young wife? And what about the congregration Noah's trying so hard to build in Virgin River? Will they ever accept him if he's trailing after an ex-stripper like a lovesick pup? Can an unlikely couple like Noah and Ellie ever succeed in a small, conservative town like Virgin River?

I don't read much romance, but a friend suckered me into reading Robyn Carr. I tell you, one book and I was hooked. Carr creates the best kind of settings - small, close towns filled with the kind of people you'd want to rub shoulders with every day. Virgin River's idyllic, although it's not without its problems. The people are the same. Good, hardworking, family and community-oriented, they look out for their own. Reading about these folks is always a pleasure. I really do miss them when I'm away.

Forbidden Falls is everything I already love about this series - and more. The more comes purely from Ellie Baldwin. Sure, she's the clich├ęd prostitute (well, stripper)-with-a-heart-of-gold, but she's the kind of person that just makes you smile. Noah's a typical Carr character - Ellie breaks the mold. You always get a Happily Ever After in a Carr novel, so you know the two will end up together. Still, it's a sweet, enjoyable romance that's funny, hopeful and charming in that down home Virgin River way. This is easily one of my favorite installments in what has proved to be a thoroughly entertaining series.

(Readalikes: Grace Valley trilogy by Robyn Carr; previous Virgin River books)

Grade: A-

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for language and sexual content

To the FTC, with love: I received this book from the author. Thanks, Robyn!

6 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed this, as most of the VR series.

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  2. This is another author that I have been intending to read for a long time. I think she came on my radar long ago because she wrote a book about ladies in a book club. I never read that one (good intentions), but I've heard such good things about this series. Thanks for sharing, Susan!

    P.S. Good luck with your procedure. I'm keeping you in my prayers.

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  3. Kay--if you're talking about House on Olive Street (though that's a women's writer's group), it's scheduled for re-release this year. It's awesome, too.

    Susan--yay! I'm famous again! Though I take issue with the "suckered" designation. If introducing you to cool authors means I suckered you, well, you should be so lucky more often! :)

    My word verification is closer to what you should be: "graterea."

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  4. I love this series. I just finished the next two!

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  5. Great Review. New follower

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