Mira, $7.99 / April 24, 2012 / $7.99 print, $6.39 digital
Former marine Tom Cavanaugh’s come home to Virgin River, ready to take over his family’s apple orchard and settle down. He knows just what the perfect woman will be like: sweet, decent, maybe a little naive. The marrying kind.
Nothing like Nora Crane. So why can’t he keep his eyes off the striking single mother?
Nora may not have a formal education, but she graduated with honors from the school of hard knocks. She’s been through tough times and she’ll do whatever it takes to support her family, including helping with harvest time at the Cavanaugh’s orchard. …
Both Nora and Tom have their own ideas of what family means. But they’re about to prove each other completely wrong...
Sunrise Point is the nineteenth entry in Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series, but from my experience, you can drop in here and there, at different points along the timeline, and still enjoy your visit. One notable theme in this series is ex-military heroes, who tend to settle in the isolated mountain town of Virgin River as a haven from their experiences in battle.
This particular book doesn’t focus on the former military career of its hero, Tom Cavanaugh (though there is a subplot involving a number of ex-military characters), but on the familial tribulations of heroine Nora Crane. The twin themes of past trauma and small towns as havens is still present, however. Nora repeatedly tells herself that what she’s been through is nothing compared to being involved in a war, but we the readers can see she’s probably underestimating the impact of abuse and abandonment.
Carr has a knack for showing the best parts of country life, and how they could appeal to a wounded hero or heroine. For example, Nora’s first view of the orchard deserves its own soundtrack.
There was something so pure and homespun about row after row of perfectly spaced apple trees, the fruit in various stages of ripening hanging from the boughs, some still small- apple-green while others wore a slight blush of red. And at the end of what seemed a long driveway through the orchard stood a big house—a white fairy-tale house with red shutters and a red front door and a wonderful wraparound porch with chairs separated by small tables.
Later, after Nora has been working as an apple picker for some time, her observations of the orchard are more grounded in the routine of work. However, they are still idyllic, showing how strongly this world, and its accompanying rhythms, appeals to her after her unhappy childhood and her former boyfriend’s abandonment.
The work was physically demanding, but it was refreshing to a city girl. If she hadn’t been distracted by soreness and the fear of not being able to keep up, she would have been thoroughly into the experience. The apples smelled heavenly. The breeze wafting through the trees was refreshing, the sound of the swaying branches and rustling leaves as calming as a lullaby. And the industry all around her, plus the weight of her bag filled her with a sense of accomplishment. She loved the sacks full of apples adding to the bins, the forklift taking the full bins away, the watering and aerating going on all around her while she stood on her ladder and picked, the trucks taking crates and boxes of apples to vendors.
Nora’s first view of the hero, Tom, is part and parcel of how she feels about the orchard: appealing because he is ordinary and orderly, knowing his place in the world and knowing what he wants for his future.
His features might be ordinary, but put together so perfectly, he was hot. A hunk with that dangerous wholesome look about him—the look that had trapped her in the past.
Tom is a direct contrast to what has gone before for Nora, and she revels in the joys of living in a small town, such as the annual cider festival.
“…It’s a bunch of county people on ladders, picking, tasting cider and pies and throwing softballs around. It’s barking dogs, small children, shouting and laughing people, swarming all over the orchard, in the barn, in the house…”
Throughout the novel, Nora’s love of the orchard as both real place and symbol are clear, and shown in such a way that we, the readers, can visit that place too, and feel a similar comfort.
…by far the most delicious fantasy she had was sitting on that porch, watching the sun set over the orchard and mountains. The beautiful, lush, full and ripe orchard.
I feel like a mountain vacation right about now. How about you?
Victoria Janssen is the author of three erotic novels and numerous short stories. Her latest novel is The Duke and The Pirate Queen from Harlequin Spice. Follow her on Twitter @victoriajanssen or find out more at victoriajanssen.com.