When I picked up Redwood Bend, I have to admit I was a little skeptical. I read another book by Robyn Carr about a year ago, Promise Canyon, and while I enjoyed it, I wasn't overjoyed about it. (In retrospect, it probably was caused at least in part by the fact that I was reading it more for the horse story than the love story. This is something that happens to me occasionally, as being horse crazy can have a significant impact on what I choose to read.)
So I wasn't a newcomer to Virgin River, but I have to say, I liked this "visit" much better than the last one. It probably had a lot to do with the differences in the characters and the story. I felt I could really relate to Katie's inner strength and independence. Honestly, she won me over when it became clear in the first 20 pages that she could change her own flat tire — no damsel in distress here! And just in case I hadn't noticed, a few chapters later, she changes her own oil, too.
It might sound silly, but I knew then that I was going to really like the book. The love story was different than your typical romance novel, too. Both Katie and Dylan get involved thinking it's only going to be a fling, though of course anyone who reads the genre knows that won't be the case. But again, I liked how Katie didn't fall apart when he left, weeping and begging him to stay — even if she did want him to.
And of course, Dylan was a perfect romance novel hero. The entire idea of him — Katie's childhood movie star crush, sweeping her off her feet again as an adult, and this time for real — was an idea I'm sure most women would find appealing. After all, how many of us can relate to having a crush like that as a preteen or teen? (Or, as in my case, many crushes like that...)
It's interesting that one of my biggest complaints about Promise Canyon, and one of the things I found the most distracting from the story, wasn't an issue in Redwood Bend: In the former, I didn't like the "catching up" with characters from previous novels, probably partly because it was the first of the Virgin River novels I'd read, so I wasn't as interested in the other characters in the town as a longtime reader might have been. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that the only "catching up" that occurred in Redwood Bend was when it was crucial to the story.
All in all, I thought Redwood Bend was a sweet, solid, and well-written story, with characters that I could genuinely relate to, and a love story that made me truly care what happened to them!