Synopsis- For the second time in a year a woman arrives in the small town of Virgin River trying to escape the past.
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.
Review- Paige Lassiter arrives in Virgin River frightened, battered and bruised with her young son in tow. The moment she steps into the bar, Preacher (a.k.a John) it ignites his protective side and he is determined to help Paige and her son feel safe.
Paige is the victim of long-standing domestic abuse and this is her final attempt to escape the clutches of her ex-husband. Preacher, a war veteran is actually a gentle giant, inexperienced when it comes to women but clearly has a gentle way of soothing Paige’s pain. Paige has all the classic signs of a woman who has been abused; difficulties in trusting, ready to flee at any sign of threat and suspicious of those who want to help. She also has the reality-based fear that her ex-husband will most certainly kill her, and this fear hangs over her. She expects the last thing she would want is to be close to another man, but Preacher teaches her how to trust, how to rely on someone and helps her regain her confidence. He also forms a special bond with her son who has also been exposed to the violence.
Shelter Mountain touches on some very serious issues, including domestic violence, pregnancy loss and the overwhelming court processes faced by victims. I actually really liked how Carr explored the impact of domestic violence and empowered Paige in the process. I also loved how the community came together, they learnt more about this issue and in the process banded together to help her. If only all communities could be like this!
Shelter Mountain is the second Virgin River novel I have read and I’m really enjoying this series. I enjoyed the re-appearance of Mel and Jack from the first novel so that I could follow where they were up to in life and how their paths crossed with Paige and Preacher’s. There was also another sub-plot with young Rick and Liz, the love-struck teens that were introduced in the first novel too. These two had quite a tough time in this story and I felt quite sad for them.
The love story between Paige and Preacher was slow-building and realistic to her emotional state. She becomes more confident as a woman and mother and it was lovely to see her discover her sexuality and ways in which she can have power in the relationship- in a healthy way. Preacher was really a gentle giant, he’s this huge, tall, bald guy who is just a big softie inside. It was quite sweet how he discovered he was falling in love with Paige and yet was completely inexperienced not just sexually but also with that emotional intimacy. He was such a strong presence for Paige.
In about the third quarter of the book when Paige and Preacher are pretty much getting their act together, the story starts to drift to a number of sub-plots such as Mike (a fellow soldier) and Bree (Jack’s sister) who are dealing with their own issues in life. Although I enjoy the sub-plots in this series which give it a real communal feel, I did feel it drifted a bit too much at this point in the story and I really wanted it to get back to Paige and Preacher. I understand the author is probably setting up future storylines and was giving the illusion of time passing in the town, but it made me lose my focus a little.
Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. Shelter Mountain explores some serious social and emotional issues relevant to today’s society in the context of a developing loving relationship between two wounded people who didn’t believe they could ever find happiness again. I’m looking forward to reading more of this series!
“I loved this book!”
Shelter Mountain can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers
Also in the Virgin River series: