Erin Foley has always been there for her family. Her mother died when she was only eleven, but she bravely stepped in to do housework and take care of her two little siblings. When her father died while she was attending law school, she unhesitatingly took custody of the brother and sister she was already raising. Now that both of them have moved out and are pursuing their own lives, Erin feels lost. She's experiencing a bad case of empty nest syndrome, and they weren't even her kids. In an effort to find herself and learn to have fun, she takes a three-month leave from her law firm and moves into her brother-in-law's remote, mountain-top cabin outside Virgin River. Once there, Erin can't seem to find anything to do that catches her fancy, and just when she's about to die of boredom, a scruffy-looking mountain man, wielding a machete, steps out of the forest, scaring her half to death.
Aiden Riordan is a doctor and Navy man who recently decided to resign his commission. Before taking a job in the private sector, he heads for Virgin River to catch a little R & R while awaiting the birth of his first nephew. Out hiking in search of a mountain-top vista, he didn't mean to alarm the beautiful woman, but when the fright causes her to accidentally knock herself out, Aiden rushes to the rescue. Considering that he looks and smells like a homeless guy, it takes him a while to convince her that he means no harm, but once he does, things definitely start looking up. Out of all his brothers, Aiden is the one who has always longed for a wife and children the most, and after spending some time getting acquainted with Erin, he knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that he's finally found "The One." But no sooner does he start wooing the woman of his dreams than the woman who haunts his nightmares shows up in town, causing trouble. Will Erin find it in her heart to believe Aiden's story of the past, or will his crazy ex-wife ruin his newfound happiness when it's barely begun?
Moonlight Road was another fabulous installment in Robyn Carr's Virgin River series. This one focuses primarily on the rather large and still growing Riordan clan. We also get to see a fair bit of Ian and Marcie (A Virgin River Christmas) for the first time since their book. Many other current and former Virgin River residents pop in for a visit although some are merely in the background. This time the story was a little less about the town, and a little more about both Aiden and Erin's family ties. I absolutely loved this though, because the Riordans and Foleys still projected that warmth and comfort that I've come to expect from a Virgin River novel.
Like all of his brothers and many of the male residents of Virgin River, Aiden is a military man, ex-Navy to be precise. Not wanting to be assigned to a ship again for the next two years, he resigns his commission to look for work in the private sector. Out of all the Riordan boys, Aiden is the one who has wanted a wife and children the most, but also the one who has had the worst luck with women. After his brief but tempestuous marriage to a "crazy woman," he's been rather wary of relationships despite his desire for a family. He finally realized that being in the Navy wasn't helping any in his search for the right woman. Before finding a steady job and settling down, he decides to sojourn in Virgin River for a few months while awaiting the birth of his first nephew. In my opinion, Aiden leans toward being a beta hero. As an OB/GYN, he's very sensitive toward women's issues, and overall, he's a pretty romantic guy. Even though he doesn't exactly get off on the right foot with Erin, which leaves her less than accommodating, he is very gentle and takes the time to get to know her. I love how he was secretly doing little things for her without her knowing about them. He was kind of her own personal gardening and handyman fairy which was really cute. It was also incredibly romantic how he gave Erin the prom that she'd missed out on, and I love how he taught her to just relax and have fun. Add to all this the fact that Aiden is a tender lover who patiently awakens Erin to things she's been missing, and he's pretty much the perfect guy. I've liked Aiden since he was first introduced in Luke's book, so I was very excited to finally get to his book. It certainly didn't disappoint, and I think he found the perfect match in Erin.
When Erin was first introduced in Marcie and Ian's book as the meddling older sister, I had a hard time warming up to her. After reading this book, I realize that she was simply a misunderstood character. Erin has spent her whole life taking care of her family and basically missed out on some of her formative growing up years. I have to say that I admire her commitment to her brother and sister. She was a very strong woman to put herself through law school while taking care of them. Now that both of them have lives of their own and have moved out, she's feeling adrift, not knowing what to do with herself. After doing a major remodel on Ian's primitive old cabin to make it livable, Erin takes a long leave from work and comes to Virgin River looking for a peaceful place to learn how to be alone. Sadly, she can't seem to find anything to do that interests and excites her until a scruffy-looking mountain man comes walking out of the forest into her clearing. Being a girly-girl who's into designer clothes and such, she's none too impressed with him at first, but when she finds out how nicely he cleans up, she can't help being attracted. She'd dated occasionally, but never had a serious relationship. Her already too-full life simply didn't allow for it, and most of the guys she went out with didn't really float her boat either. Aiden is different than anyone she'd known before and seems to intuitively know how to make her feel good. I enjoyed watching the personal journey Erin went on and how she grew throughout the story.
Of course, this wouldn't be a Virgin River novel without lots of secondary characters, some of whom get their own POV scenes. Luke and Shelby are eagerly awaiting the birth of their first child while dealing with some new developments for Art, the young man with Down's Syndrome who became their charge. I love how Robyn Carr gives everyone an opportunity for romance regardless of age or disability, so I thought the little side plot about Art reconnecting with his "girlfriend" was really sweet. Sean returns from his tour in Iraq, but he, Franci, and Rosie are only around for a short while before heading off to his next assignment. Momma Maureen makes good on her plan to spend her retirement traveling the country with her boyfriend, George, in their new luxury RV, which surprises a few of her offspring, and their first stop is Virgin River to be there for the baby's birth. Erin's sister, Marcie, and her husband, Ian, are also about to become first-time parents, which is partly why Erin decided to vacation fairly close to home. The only townspeople who have a major part in this book are Jack and Mel who experience a little trouble in paradise as they disagree over whether to have another child, which would be a big undertaking since Mel had a hysterectomy. I have to admit that I was a little worried about this part of the story, but I'm very pleased with how it all turned out. Lastly, was the villain, Aiden's crazy ex, Annalee. I felt so bad for Aiden for all that she put him through, both during their marriage and when she returns in this book. I'm glad that Erin didn't doubt Aiden for long and instead, trusted the things he said even though she didn't exactly have proof. Very few villains make me as angry as Annalee did, so I guess that's a testament to Robyn Carr's writing skill.
Moonlight Road got off to an incredibly amusing start with Erin accidentally knocking herself out when Aiden walked out of the forest looking like a homeless man, carrying a machete. From there it runs a gamut of emotions with lots of warm family interactions as all the Riordans come together for the birth of Luke and Shelby's baby. It wraps up with some high suspense, but I won't say any more about that because I don't want to give anything away. Overall, it was another great addition to this already wonderful series that I highly recommend.
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