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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hidden Summit by Robyn Carr

Hidden Summit by Robyn Carr
Publisher: Mira Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full length (347 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

Sick of running into her cheery ex-husband and his new wife, Leslie Petruso accepts a job at the Virgin River branch of Haggerty Construction and takes the high road right out of town. Now she's got Paul Haggerty's business running like a well-oiled machine. In fact, things are so busy Paul jumps at the chance to hire an extra set of hands.

Just like Leslie, Conner Danson has been burned by love. But if Leslie was disappointed by her relationship going bad, Conner was decimated. He's got no time for women…although he spends an awful lot of time pretending not to notice Leslie. And she's pretty busy "ignoring" the chemistry between them.

According to Conner and Leslie, they have only one thing in common—they're done with love. But everyone in Virgin River can see that things are heating up at Haggerty Construction. And as far as Paul Haggerty can tell, the best thing he can do is hang on to his hard hat and watch the sparks fly!

Broken hearts and wounded souls that find their way to Virgin River discover a place with its own unpretentious, homespun magic. It is certainly not a community of saints. It is a community of flawed but caring people who create the magic in many ways—from helping an abused, single mother with housing, food, and even protection to just the good-humored courtesy of putting the seat down on the toilet. Somewhere amid this magic, love abides and wiggles its way into the hearts and lives of those who once seemed broken and wounded.

Conner Danson and Leslie Petruso come to Virgin River and work for Paul Haggerty in the construction business. Both of them arrive with emotional baggage that derailed their lives, but in different ways. Conner, who feels like he is being “punished by the whole universe”, is in hiding, waiting to testify against a powerful man in Sacramento. Moreover his business was burned down, and he is separated from his sister and her twin sons for whom he feels responsible. His secretive ways set him apart for a short time. But his six foot two “warhorse” physique with his handsome face and deep sexy voice, spontaneous charm, and his “what you see is what you get” manner make him too interesting to not notice. Even Leslie Petruso notices him and she has come to Virgin River disenchanted with men.

Leslie, the long-time office manager for Haggerty Construction’s main office in Grants Pass, comes to work in Paul’s young, fast-growing branch of the business. She needs to escape her ex-husband who won’t leave her alone even though he has remarried and has a child on the way. His narcissistic ways pass all reason. She’d kowtowed to his needs and ambitions for years then he set her aside for a “new model”. Leslie’s self esteem and confidence were demolished. Any idea she might have harbored about being able to give and receive sexual pleasure vanished. Even though her self-image is in tatters, she sets to work to put Paul’s office (a mobile trailer) in order. Her innate sunny disposition nature reemerges as she cleans floors, organizes files, and wins over the all-men crew. Her sense of humor and caring nature come out of hiding also.

In tiny increments, Leslie and Conner get to know each other. Both skittish of long-term expectations, they move along with humor, easy camaraderie, and poke fun at themselves, e.g. ”What a couple of go-gathers we are”. They progress from planting flowers in her yard to “friends with chemistry” to breathtaking love making that makes HIDDEN SUMMIT sparkle and sizzle.

The undercurrent of suspense about Conner’s danger of being found and killed and Leslie’s self-absorbed ex-husband’s outrageous pursuit of her builds tension and keeps one turning pages.

The secondary characters, many of whom a reader of the Virgin River series recognizes, make the story come to life. They reinforce the idea “that our biggest blunders can end up being the best thing that ever happened to us”. What fun it is to visit Jack’s Bar and find that Preacher is still the same eccentric cook as well as getting to catch up with what’s been going on with other vicarious friends in Virgin River.

The antagonists cannot be ignored, but they cannot override the magic that makes Virgin River that special place where love blooms. If you have not read other books in the Virgin River series HIDDEN SUMMIT is a good place to start then work your way backward to learn about other characters with captivating love stories and, of course, look forward to the next book REDWOOD BEND to find out more about Katie, Conner’s sister, and her twin sons.

Robyn Carr creates fascinating, life-like characters and strong, gripping conflicts with subtle humor, exquisite descriptions, and breathtaking, world shattering love scenes. Her books are keepers.

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