With sterling characters, enriched by emotion and humor, this book begins what promises to be a stellar trilogy. Homespun without being corny, it also manages to make small-town life seem unusually appealing.
Nine months ago, nurse Melinda Monroe's husband was murdered. Since then, the city has seemed scary, so Mel takes a job in tiny Virgin River. But the "charming cottage" she's been promised there is anything but, and the doctor doesn't want an assistant!
Even staying overnight seems like a bad idea, but Mel does -- and then she stops at Jack Sheridan's restaurant for breakfast on her way out of town. Which means Mel's still there when a baby is abandoned at Doc's office. After that, it becomes clear that Mel's services are required, and getting back to basics reminds her of what she loves about medicine. There's also her budding romance with Jack, who's the perfect man -- but Mel's still married in her heart, and he knows it. (MIRA, Apr., 416 pp., $6.99)