Reviewed by Helyce
Since I found the Carr’s Virgin River series, this author has been an auto-read for me. Her talent at writing contemporaries revolving around families is done in such a realistic way it just hits every one of my buttons. The sense of community she provides in every story just speaks to a world I wish existed in real life. When I began this series I wasn’t sure about it, but as it went on I immersed myself into the characters and their lives.
In this book, we focus on Dakota Jones who’d only been mentioned in passing as Cal and Sierra’s brother. Dakota left his flakey family and joined the service as soon as he was able to. His childhood was not normal by any stretch, living in a converted bus, moving from place to place as his mother enabled the ramblings of a father who suffered from mental illness, rather than encouraging him to seek help. Even after they’d settled on their grandparent’s farm in Iowa, their lives were still influenced by their father’s illness and Dakota chose to leave right after his high school graduation. He joined the army and hadn’t been back but a few times to check in.
Dakota made the army his life and loved it. He was successful until he defied a direct order and followed his gut. It didn’t matter that he saved several lives with his defiance, his actions had to be dealt with. He served some time and was ultimately discharged. He wandered around a bit, spent time in Australia and slowly made his way to Sullivan’s Crossing to check in with his siblings. He never intended to fall in love with the place or the close knit community he finds there. Her certainly never expected to fall in love and want to make a home there.
Sidney or “Sid” moved back to Sullivan’s Crossing after her divorce. She was so blindsided when her husband left her after seven years of marriage, that she had a breakdown. Needing to completely escape, she moves home to heal and stays to help her brother Rob raise his sons. She works part time at her brother’s bar/restaurant. She is not interested in men or a relationship, her trust completely ruined by what she experienced. But there is something about Dakota Jones that makes her rethink her “don’t need a man” rule.
I really liked how Dakota and Sid’s relationship started and grew. Neither of them were looking, so their time together seemed to revolve around Dakota’s visits to the bar for a beer and a burger. Though Sid is friendly she doesn’t encourage Dakota in any way. Dakota is not deterred and continues to put himself in her path at every turn. Initially Dakota is not thinking about or looking for a relationship and he’s honest with Sid about that. Ultimately, that’s what worked for Sid. She wasn’t interested in anything serious after what she’d been through.
While Sid and Dakota are learning about each other, big things are happening for Sierra and Connie from book 2. Sierra and Connie have been together for a while now and are starting to talk about important things. Sierra was pretty sure that she didn’t want biological children, worried about passing on the mental illness gene. But she struggled with that decision because she had the feeling Connie wanted a child of his own. They decide to try being foster parents. I loved watching Sierra and Connie as they realize building a family is exactly what they want to do.
Cal and Maggie from book one are busy people! Maggie has had a baby girl and she is back to work, commuting to Denver and staying there three or four days a week. Cal is practicing law and helps Sully, Maggie’s dad, at the campground whenever he can.
Carr surprises us by bringing Sedona, the fourth sibling, to Sullivan’s Crossing when Sierra and Connie get married. Sedona comes alone, leaving her husband and children behind. Sedona has a secret and she doesn’t know how to tell her family, at the same type wanting to ignore everything about it.
While all that is going on, there is a crazy woman stalking Dakota. He catches the eye of a couple of women when he comes to town. He’s young, handsome, and new! But once he meets Sid, he’s not interested in anyone but her, much to his stalker’s dismay. I could have done without this storyline. I don’t think it was necessary at all. There was enough drama and excitement between Sedona, Cal and Sierra as they all were facing life changing decisions.
If a series has to come to an end, I want it to be written just like this book. Not only did we get a new couple to keep the story fresh, we get lots of page time with characters from previous books. We got a wedding, a new baby and so much love! I can’t wait to see what Carr has in store for us next.