Hidden Summit

Hidden Summit - Robyn Carr As a favor to her friend and colleague Max, a Sacramento District Attorney, Brie Valenzuela, arranges lodging and a job in Virgin River for Conner Danson, a witness who needs to be hidden. Conner saw a high-profile and well known businessman shoot another man and stash the body in the dumpster behind his hardware store. Conner’s store was subsequently burned to the ground and his life threatened. He needs protection and refuge until he can testify at the bad guy’s trial. Robyn Carr ramps up the suspense in the opening pages of Hidden Summit and introduces an extremely strong, appealing hero in Conner Danson.

Conner’s life has been irrevocably changed as a result of doing the right thing. He called the police immediately after witnessing the shooting and agreed to testify against Regis Mathis, a man he can unquestionably identify as the murderer. Was doing the right thing worth losing his livelihood and having his life turned into a living nightmare for? Conner has asked himself the same question during lengthy periods of reflection and loneliness while suffering an exile from those close to him. Carr provoked considerable empathy for Conner for a variety of reasons but I also admired his strength and resolve. He presents as an honest, forthcoming man who calls a spade-a-spade and doesn’t lie well. Conner has considerable personal baggage as well. Previously married, his ex-wife proved to be a sex addict who cheated on him constantly, so he tends to be cynical regarding the institution of marriage and relationships.

About the time Connor is getting settled in to the picturesque, cloistered town, Leslie Petruso arrives in Virgin River. Leslie is reeling from a painful divorce that left her with low self esteem and very little dignity. Back home in Grants Pass Leslie encountered her ex-husband and his new younger, now pregnant spouse everywhere. Her ex has been on a mission to be Leslie’s close friend and make sure everyone in town is aware that he is doing his best to make sure they are on good terms, despite the fact he cheated on his wife of 8-years and made sure she was left with very little of the money accrued during their union. In essence, Leslie was deeply hurt, and taken to the cleaners financially to boot. One thing becomes clear, for her emotional health she had to leave her home and put some distance between herself and her horrible ex. So she approaches Paul Haggerty, a good friend and son of her longtime employer for a job and refuge. Paul runs a construction company in Virgin River and is badly in need of an administrative assistant. He also has property that he makes available for Leslie to rent. She is perfect for the job, Leslie is smart and efficient, she knows the business and gets his mess organized quickly. Leslie is also accustomed construction workers and keeps everyone in line. She feels comfortable in the little town and her emotional stress immediately lessens. Leslie has no intention of opening her shredded heart to another man, and I have to say I related to her resolve given what she has endured at the hands hands of her self obsessed ex-husband. However, things change, she meets Connor.

Things get off to a rocky start for these lovers. When Connor first meets Leslie, she is with Paul (a man of integrity in a committed marital relationship) who is offering her support and a friendly shoulder to cry on before getting her settled into her new home. Connor automatically assumes she is having an affair with a married man who it just so happens turns out to be his employer. Leslie and Connor have instant sexual chemistry but she is deeply offended when she discovers Connor’s suspicions regarding her private life and takes him to task. Eventually Connor earns his way back into Leslie’s good graces and once he discovers she is available his tactics in wooing her certainly won my heart. Carr pens light sensuality into the loves scenes of this novel. What impressed me was the author develops a mature relationship between these lovers. They are both in their 30’s, have suffered hurt and loss and are taking small steps back to trust and intimacy. Theirs is a believable story. Connor is absolutely awesome in his understanding of Leslie’s issues, the damage her ex caused to her self esteem and confidence where men are concerned. And, Leslie finds she is comfortable being open and honest with Connor about her feelings. Carr crafts a hero and heroine who have more in common than they initially realize.

In the background of Connor and Leslie’s relationship is vivid imagery of the country and the sense of community that is inherent to the town. Carr brilliantly instills such warmth into a fast paced narrative that grabbed me from the opening pages and kept this reader enthralled. The dialogue is crisp and laced with wonderful humor. There is plenty of conflict, Connor is forced to keep many secrets from Leslie because of his situation. The villain gets out on parole and presents a looming threat with lethal connections. Connor is well hidden in Virgin River, or is he?

Carr pens an exciting, surprise ending for Hidden Summit which offers an HEA that will warm your heart. This book was a cover to cover read for me, I became completely invested in Leslie and Connor’s story and wanted to see them together, two people at the crossroads of their lives who meet under highly unusual circumstances and endure. I can see why Robyn Carr receives such high accolades from so many readers. If all my 2012 reads are this good, I’m in for a great year.