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.
Type: Contemporary romance
Heat: 3 out of 5
Rating: 4 out of 5
Shelter Mountain, book two of Carr's Virgin River series, was a fantastic read. Carr really doesn't hold back and takes you on an emotional ride in each of her books. From spousal abuse to teen pregnancy, dealing with miscarriage and life altering injuries. Her characters experience so many difficult things and do so with such grace. They're people you quickly grow attached to and ones you can't help but find yourself caring about and worrying over. The world she weaves is one that feels honest and believable and easily draws you in and leaves you wanting more. The relationships aren't too hot and steamy right away but more of a slow burn and in Preacher and Paige's case a really slow burn. I actually like the change of pace and getting to see the hero/heroine spending weeks or months getting to know and trust each other before the relationship develops into something more.
I loved Preacher's character in book one so was pretty excited to read his story. He's a huge bear of a man. Intimidating, solitary, quiet, and shy when it comes to women. Then Paige and her son Christopher stumble into the bar on a rainy night and everything changes for him. I loved getting to see Preacher change as the story went along. To soften a bit, realize he wanted more from his life than just being a cook and hunting. Carr did an amazing job getting across the emotional state and frame of mind of Paige who was a battered wife and on the run with her young son. How much fear and how little hope she had because of the abuse she suffered was heartbreaking. Pairing her with a woman-shy Preacher who was there to protect her but didn't push her relationship-wise was fantastic. I loved the two of them together and how their relationship developed. And that he'd do anything to protect and care for her and her son even if it meant her walking out of his life.
“Can't any of us stand up to those women?"
"Nope," said at least three men in unison.”My only disappointment was the use of secondary characters. I usually love when they come back into the picture and you can see how they're doing but in this case they ended up seriously overpowering the main couple. Half way through the book it was almost as if Carr lost inspiration for the main couple leaving them with hardly any part in the storyline. She'd get back to them with a paragraph here or there but having major events taken place behind the scenes. [highlight for spoiler] Like the freaking proposal! We don't even get to see that happen. Just get told about it after the fact. That was pretty disappointing. The second half of the book is basically a continuation of Jack and Mel's HEA, a set up for future characters and a chunk about teenage Rick's life. It was all beautifully and emotionally written and I loved seeing all of the other characters but I was expecting a full novel about Preacher and Paige and felt a bit jipped how their story amounted to being more or less a novella. So a little disappointment for me but I'm still loving the series and the emotional reaction her writing brings out and am looking forward to diving into the rest of the series.