Francine Duncan met and fell in love with Sean Riordan while they were both in the Air Force. All Franci ever wanted was to settle down and have a family, but that was the last thing on Sean's mind. When Franci found out she was pregnant, she didn't want Sean to marry her out of nothing more than a sense of obligation. She wanted herself and their baby to be the most important things in his life. After trying one last time to get him to commit, and many angry words being said, she finally split. Franci intended to tell Sean about the baby eventually, but time kept slipping away and before she knew it, four years had gone by. Now, she's carved out a comfortable life for herself and their daughter, working as civilian nurse.
When Sean chances to spot Franci in a bar, he can hardly believe his eyes. Just seeing her again, revives all sorts of wonderful memories of their time together, making him wonder why he ever let her get away. Determined not to let that happen a second time, he doggedly pursues her until she finally agrees to go out with him again, but no sooner have they reconnected than Sean discovers the big secret Franci has been keeping all this time. Can he forgive her, change his playboy ways, and convince Franci that he wants a future with her and their daughter or will his Air Force career get in the way of a truly happy reunion?
A large part of the plot of Angel's Peak centers around the secret baby theme, which is not a favorite of mine. I have a hard time accepting the idea of a woman running away to have a baby and never telling the father, because it seems so unfair to the guy. Unless the man is a tyrant or otherwise a danger to the woman and her child, I usually don't feel like she has a good reason to do this, so this is a romance theme I typically avoid. However, with this being a Virgin River book and me being a huge fan of the series, I couldn't very well pass this one up. I figured if anyone could pull it off and make me like this type of story it would be Robyn Carr, and she definitely didn't disappoint. It was apparent that during the earlier incarnation of their relationship, both Franci and Sean were rather stubborn and immature. Franci tried repeatedly during their relationship to get Sean to commit to her, but he made it abundantly clear that he didn't want marriage or children. When Franci found herself pregnant, she knew Sean would probably step up to the plate and marry her out of a sense of obligation if nothing else, but she didn't want a marriage based on duty alone. She wanted to know that he would love her and the baby with his whole heart. She made one last-ditch effort to get him to commit without tipping her hand. Many angry words were said on both sides, and Franci finally split. She intended to tell Sean she was pregnant eventually, but one thing after another kept happening to turn her off to that idea, and the more time that passed, the harder it was for her to fess up, knowing that he would be angry with her for not telling him in the first place. I did agree with her mom that she should have told Sean long ago, but I felt like the author explained Franci's reasoning well enough for me to be OK with it. Not to mention, she and Sean grew and matured a lot during the course of the story, so in some ways the separation only made their reunion sweeter.
Franci and Sean were two wonderful people who made a lovely couple. They met in the Air Force where Sean was flying planes and Franci was a flight nurse. They connected on a very deep level and had amazing chemistry, but butted heads constantly about the marriage issue. When they broke up, Franci got out of the Air Force and went to live with her mom. She built a good life for herself and little Rose with her mom as her support system. When Franci left, Sean felt bad about how things had ended between them. He tried a few times to reach her, only to find out that she'd moved and no one seemed to know where she'd gone. Finally, he gave up and went on with his life, returning to his old playboy persona, but no woman since has made him feel like Franci did. When he chances to spot her in a bar with friends, he's instantly smitten again and refuses to let her get away a second time. However, she isn't so thrilled to see him after all this time and gives him the cold shoulder. Being a typical clueless man, he has no idea how to go about getting her back the right way, but I have to give him props for his persistence. At least he had the decency to admit that he had no idea what he was doing and that he was wrong to not commit to her. Although he was upset with her at first for not informing him that he was a father, he warmed up to little Rose and her mom pretty quickly, and grew into the kind of man Franci desperately wanted four years earlier. Eventually, they can't deny that the old spark is still there, and Sean begins to wonder why he ever fought it so hard. I have to give Robyn Carr kudos for not skimping on showing Sean and Franci's chemistry in their first love scene. Despite only being moderately descriptive, it was positively explosive and explained a lot about why neither had experienced anything else like it since breaking up.
As with all the Virgin River books, there are side plots aplenty. Most of the past heroes and heroines returned in some capacity, even if only as background characters. Some new characters were introduced as well and new relationships were formed. Robyn Carr continues her tradition of romance for the young at heart with Franci's mom, Vivian, and her boyfriend, Carl, who are looking forward to being able to spend more time together if Franci and Sean reunite. Sean's mom, Maureen is thrilled that one of her sons has finally given her a grandchild even if she is rather prudish about the way it occurred. She revels in her new role as grandma to Rose and gets acquainted with Noah's old friend, George. We learn that Dan and Cheryl are progressing in their relationship, but still taking things slow, one day at a time. Cheryl finally puts her old house filled with bad memories on the market, while Dan is building a new home that will be all theirs for making new memories. Noah is still a great friend, counselor and minister to the community. He and Ellie get engaged, plan and execute a wedding, and buy a "new" old house. I love how the whole town came together to help them fix it up enough to live in just in time for the holidays. Luke and Shelby play hosts to their family and have a big announcement to make. We also learn that Paul is busy doing a major rebuild/remodel on Ian Buchanan's old cabin (A Virgin River Christmas) in preparation for Marcie's sister, Erin, coming to visit as the heroine of the next book in the series, Moonlight Road. I remember Erin being rather fussy and snobbish as well as pretty bossy toward Marcie. I don't recall liking her very well, but if anyone can make me warm up to her, Robyn Carr would be the one to do it. Her hero will be Sean and Luke's brother, Aiden. I've always loved Aiden, because out of all those handsome Riordan boys, he is the one who longs for a wife and family but has had horrible luck with women. It's cute how excited he is about meeting his niece, and he's the only one of the boys who can keep their mom, Maureen, in line. He's definitely the peace keeper of the family and an all-around great guy who I look forward to seeing as a main hero.
Angel's Peak was another heartwarming read in the Virgin River series. This book was a little more lighthearted than some of the others in the series. It contained two of the funniest scenes that I believe Robyn Carr has ever written. The grocery store fight was absolutely hilarious, and Sean's first attempt at playing father to Rosie was truly endearing while also being LOL funny. As always, I loved the small-town atmosphere and all the people who populate the town. Their Thanksgiving gathering and how they all rallied around each other and helped those in need gave me lots of warm fuzzies. Angel's Peak was yet another winner from this talented author, and I can't wait to pick up the next book soon.
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