Harvest Moon by Robyn Carr
Rising sous-chef Kelly Matlock’s sudden collapse at work is a wake-up call. Disillusioned and burned out, she’s retreated to her sister Jillian’s house in Virgin River to rest and reevaluate.
Puttering in Jill’s garden and cooking with her heirloom vegetables is wonderful, but Virgin River is a far cry from San Francisco. Kelly’s starting to feel a little too unmotivated…until she meets Lief Holbrook. The handsome widower looks more like a lumberjack than a sophisticated screenwriter—a combination Kelly finds irresistible. But less appealing is Lief’s rebellious stepdaughter, Courtney. She’s the reason they moved from L.A., but Courtney’s finding plenty of trouble even in Virgin River.
Kelly’s never fallen for a guy with such serious baggage, but some things are worth fighting for. Besides, a bratty teenager can’t be any worse than a histrionic chef…right?
Point of fact, I am a Robyn Carr fan. I love her work. I am a Virgin River fan and I’ve greatly enjoyed learning all about this town and its extraordinarilly interesting inhabitants. They are in turns hilarious, kind, mind bending, maddening, crazy, essentially any and every adjective you could describe. In this the 14th Virgin River novel, there’s a huge change in the feeling of the books, they were always good but this was, in parts, genius.
My favorite part was the teenage daughter and her interactions with, well everyone. She was HILARIOUS with her therapist and her father, and the debacle in Hawaii, in turns caustic and cutting with her father, distant, yet extremely curious with Kelley, selfish, self-centered, she was by far the clearest character, she was the one I knew had to be based on someone in Ms. Carr’s life. It was just plainly clear that the author has had her run in’s with a surly teenage girl and took notes. She plays heavily into the story, as she should. I loved the fact that she wasn’t a footnote, and that there was conflict, a lot of it. Teenagers, especially teens who have lost a parent are not the most understanding of characters, especially when their remaining genetic parent is a jerk, and their step parent is, well awesome but fear of abandonment has made them sullen and worried about everything.
Kelley’s story was a bit unbelievable. Parts made complete sense, the inter office affair with the mentor, completely possible. The confrontation with the mentor’s wife who says they have a business understanding, get it. But the part where she’s not really having an affair, and the mentor comes back in the picture, and becomes a favored uncle of the family? A bit unbelievable. Extraordinarily well written but unbelievable. I mean its a bit of a stretch, I don’t know if anyone is that magnanimous, or if any boyfriend would be that accepting of someone that 1) caused the love of their life un happiness, 2) was a former lover of said love interest, and 3) would accept someone that their lover wanted, and never had but had that much respect for in their life. Maybe I’m just cynical or have a very cynical view of people in relationships so I can’t realistically see that happening but it was supremely well written even as I found it unbelievable.
I love the new themes Ms. Carr is exploring in her work, mainly women dissatisfied with their careers choosing to make a change to open their own businesses or just change their lifestyles to suit their true personalities. Though its not really a new theme for her per-say, her earlier works, her stand alone novels. commonly follow this theme, its always written so well that you feel a sense of re-discovery and reconnection every time I read it anew. Its more of a chick-lit theme but its one that is popular for a reason, I fervently believe that one of the reasons that we read is to envision a better version of our selves, or to escape even momentarily from some aspect of our lives, even if its just because the kids are screaming or our work bores us to tears. At the suspension of time, Ms. Carr is a master. She is able to draw the reader in so easily through a combination of simple yet eloquent descriptions and the art of the unsaid, that you are easily able to picture her characters the way you believe they should be.
This was a great addition to the Virgin River series, and easily the one with which I laughed out loud the most while reading.
Cover Art: B