Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Baker's Dozen of Reviews: Day Ten--The Newcomer

The Newcomer
By Robyn Carr
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Release Date: June 25, 2013

The second book in Robyn Carr’s Thunder Point series could be subtitled “The Book of Complications.” All the lives that seemed moving toward happily ever after in The Wanderer are shaken up and the love affairs are tested.

Longtime friends Mac McCain and Gina James are still basking in the glow of their new romantic relationship when Cecilia Jayne, Mac’s ex-wife, shows up after ten years of no contact at all with Mac or with her three children. Even after Mac reassures Gina that the beautiful Cee Jay poses no threat to their relationship, concerns about the effects of her reappearance on the children remain, especially given the explosive anger of sixteen-year-old Eve.

Ashley, Gina’s sixteen-year-old daughter, is having problems too. The effects of a bad break-up with her boyfriend Downey are compounded when Downey’s new girlfriend sends a fake semi-nude photo of Ashley to all Downey’s phone contacts and posts a copy on Facebook. The combination sends the usually stable, upbeat Ashley spiraling into a frightening depression and sets Gina looking for information from Ashley’s father who disappeared before Ashley’s birth.

Mac and Gina are not the only ones dealing with surprises from their pasts. Hank Cooper receives a phone call summoning him across the country to hear some news from his former fiancée that will change his life forever. The contact from Coop’s past sets Sarah Dupre questioning whether or not she can really trust his commitment to her. Meanwhile, a promotion and a move for her are in the pipeline, and she’s faced with the choice of leaving the Coast Guard, or leaving Coop and Thunder Point and uprooting her brother Landon from a place where he is happy and anticipating a successful, potentially scholarship-producing senior year as quarterback for the high school team. And Sarah can’t bring herself to share her news with either of the males who will be affected by her decision.

Carr’s Thunder Point series is proving every bit as addictive as her beloved Virgin River books. It has the same strengths as the earlier series: a cast of characters of varying ages who capture the reader’s interest and affection; multiple storylines that sometimes run parallel to one another, sometimes intersect with one another but complement one another either way; and a sense of place strong enough to leave the reader feeling as if she’s spent time in a real town that she looks forward to visiting again.

While I wanted Coop and Sarah to resolve their problems, it was Mac and Gina’s story in which I was most invested. The friends-to-lovers trope is one of my favorites, and Carr’s treatment of their relationship rings true on so many levels. The slow pace at which it develops because of their concern about how their becoming a couple will affect their kids, the way family steps up to do the job when a support system is needed (Gina’s mother and Mac’s Aunt Lou), and the way that their friendship remains central to who they are even after they become lovers. I love that they keep the same small rituals in place and maintain their easy communication. Even their joy in a weekend escape for the two of them gives them an extra dimension of reality because when money is tight and kids are needy, it’s not easy for single parents to find time to be together without intrusions.

Carr gives the reader just enough information about new characters to make her eager to return for the next story. In this case, the next story is The Hero, the story of Spencer Lawson, single father and Thunder Point’s new football coach. I’ve already pre-ordered it for my Kindle.

I know many of you are Robyn Carr fans. Have you started the Thunder Point series? How do you think it compares to the Virgin River books?


quantum said...

I have bought 'The Wanderer' but haven't read it yet. If this series is as good as Virgin River then I'm in for a treat! Have you looked at her 'Grace Valley' series as well Janga? Both are available in audio which is a big boost for me.

michelle frye said...

I enjoyed The Wanderer and will buy The Newcomer as soon as it's released. There are just some authors that you want to read everything they write. Robyn Carr is one of those authors.

Janga said...

Q, I really think you'll love the Thunder Point books. I have read the Grace Valley trilogy. In fact, copies from the first printing are on a keeper shelf. I've been reading Robyn Carr books a long time. :)

Janga said...

I agree, Michelle. I have a group of authors whom I describe as my "Never-fails" because, although I have favorites among their novels, every one of their books leaves me glad I read it. Robyn Carr is in that group.

Kathleen O said...

Thunder Point is the new place to visit.. The Wanderer was a terrific lead in to this new series and I can't wait to get my hands on The Newcomer. Robyn never, ever disappoints her readers. She just keeps getting better and better with keeping us all enthralled with her characters and settings of her stories...