What We Find

What We FindWhat We Find by Robyn Carr
Series: Sullivan's Crossing #1
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Mira on April 5, 2016
Pages: 352
Also in this series: Any Day Now
Also by this author: Four Friends, Never Too Late, A New Hope, Wildest Dreams, Any Day Now

 

About What We Find (from the back cover):
Between the urban bustle of Denver and the high-stress environment of a career in neurosurgery, Maggie Sullivan has hit a wall. When an emergency, high-risk procedure results in the death of a teenager, Maggie finds herself in the middle of a malpractice lawsuit—and experiencing levels of anxiety she’s never faced before. It’s in this desperate moment that Maggie’s boyfriend decides he can’t handle her emotional baggage, and she’s left alone, exhausted and unsure of what her future holds. One thing is certain, though: she needs to slow down before she burns out completely, and the best place she can think to do that is Sullivan’s Crossing.

Named for Maggie’s great-grandfather, the land and charming general store at the crossroads of the Colorado and the Continental Divide trails have been passed down through the generations and now belong to Maggie’s estranged father, Sully. Though raised by her mother and stepfather after her parents divorced, Maggie has always adored Sully—despite his hands-off approach to fatherhood. When she shows up unannounced in Sullivan’s Crossing, he welcomes her with opens arms, and she relishes the opportunity to rebuild their relationship.

But when Sully has a sudden heart attack, Maggie’s world is rocked once again. Consumed with his care, she’s relieved to find that Cal Jones, a quiet and serious-looking camper, has been taking over many of Sully’s responsibilities as he recuperates. Still, Maggie is suspicious of this mysterious man’s eagerness to help—until she finds out the true reason for his deliberate isolation.

Though Cal and Maggie each struggle with loss and loneliness, the time they spend together gives Maggie hope for something brighter just on the horizon…if only they can learn to find peace and healing—and perhaps love—with each other.

I am always a little bit cautious when a favourite author embarks on a new series, especially when I’ve been so absolutely in love with their older books. I was a big fan of Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series and although it took me a while to get invested in Thunder Point, I ended up really enjoying that series too. But even if I wasn’t comparing What We Find to Carr’s previous novels, it still didn’t exactly thrill me.

But even if I wasn’t comparing What We Find to Carr’s previous novels, it still didn’t exactly thrill me.

My biggest issue with What We Find is that the romance just didn’t work for me. Maggie and Cal clash a little bit to begin with, but after one night chatting over a campfire they end up in bed together, and then we read about them having fantastic sex for the rest of the book, with little to no information about the emotional development of their relationship. We’re told that things progress well between them, but we don’t actually get to see it happen, and there is barely any internal conflict between them! Maggie occasionally worries that Cal is going to leave Sullivan’s Crossing and not return, but that’s basically it. Everything affecting their relationship is external, and even those issues are pretty non-existent. I never had any doubt that they were going to stay together. If Maggie were my real-life friend then, sure, I would be ecstatic that her relationship was drama-free! But since this is a book, it didn’t make for terribly good entertainment.

If Maggie were my real-life friend then, sure, I would be ecstatic that her relationship was drama-free! But since this is a book, it didn’t make for terribly good entertainment.

Although their relationship wasn’t the most interesting, Maggie and Cal did have some internal struggles to work through that weren’t related to their romance. Maggie has to come to terms with issues she has in her relationships with both her dad and her stepdad, and although these are mostly resolved early on in the novel, I did appreciate that she had two positive male role models in her life. Too often in novels, there is a real absence of decent father figures. It was nice to see an exception to this norm! In addition to this, Maggie and Cal are also trying to figure out how to move forward with their careers. Maybe it’s just because I don’t have any experience of the stresses of the fields of medicine or law, but the career-focused sections of the novel weren’t terribly interesting to me. Cal does also have a backstory about a previous relationship, but I never felt like this was a big stumbling block for him in any way. He didn’t have an awful lot to work through in order to reach his happy ending.

I can definitely see the potential for a good, community-based series set at Sullivan’s Crossing.

I can definitely see the potential for a good, community-based series set at Sullivan’s Crossing. The setting is different enough from Virgin River and Thunder Point that it won’t feel too repetitive, and some of the secondary characters certainly intrigued me. I did wish there had been more female secondary characters—Walter, Sully and Tom all get a lot of attention, but even Maggie’s old friends from her medical days only briefly feature in the novel. I don’t think any series is really going to manage to recapture the magic of Virgin River, so I’ll try not to compare them too much.

I’ve read a few reviews that comment on how the story in What We Find meanders a lot, and I think that’s a good way to describe it. Robyn Carr often avoids conventional plot structures and traditional romantic tropes, but this novel just didn’t have enough substance to really hook me. At times it seemed padded out with unrelated events that forced the story along in an entirely unorganic way. I wanted to like Maggie and Cal more, but I just wasn’t invested in their romance. The story was peppered with some amusing moments (like Maggie’s attempts to figure out Cal’s full name) as well as some heartwarming ones (like Maggie’s conversations with Walter) but ultimately it kind of fell flat in comparison to Robyn Carr’s other novels. It wasn’t exactly bad, just a bit average, I guess. I’ve not lost hope entirely, and will give the second book in the series a shot when it releases, but this definitely isn’t one of Robyn Carr’s best novels.

–Rachel


Before I start talking about What We Find, am I allowed to say that I miss Jack and Preacher and Mel and Paige and everyone and every place in Virgin River? I was okay with Robyn Carr’s next series, Thunder Point, but I still didn’t connect with anyone like I did with Jack & Mel and Preacher & Paige and the various families and travelers and Marines that passed through the tiny town of Virgin River.

And now, with What We Find, we are introduced to Sullivan’s Crossing.  Another proprietor of a catch-all store/bar/restaurant that holds the community together. This time, though, instead of a mountain hamlet or a coastal town, Carr takes us to a campground owned and operated by Sully – the crusty owner and operator who knows a little bit about everybody and everything in the Colorado hiking trails.  I personally liked this twist on Carr’s usual theme, as it already has provided an eclectic mix of characters and anecdotes – with more to come in future episodes, I’m sure!

I like Sully.  He IS crusty but he’s got a big heart hidden under all that gruff.

I also like Sully.  He IS crusty but he’s got a big heart hidden under all that gruff.  His neurosurgeon-in-personal-crisis daughter Maggie was actually the primary focus of What We Find, though.  And while I liked Sully, Maggie didn’t win me over easily.  It’s not that I didn’t like her… I just didn’t love her.  Her not-so-subtle but dryly-hilarious attempts to guess Cal’s full name did amuse me however and gained some points in her column.

Cal… Cal, I mostly appreciated as a character. He was a good guy with a good heart.  When he cared, he cared deeply – and that’s always attractive to me in a male lead. Cal and Maggie together, eh.  I don’t know. I enjoyed how their antagonistic (at least on Maggie’s part) relationship progressed to friendship, but I felt like, once they got together, the emotional development between them stopped. It was all there, right away, it seemed – no learning curves or normal adjustment period. No real conflict between them.

The real conflicts in the book were mostly internally isolated per each character. Other – secondary – characters contributed to these conflicts and actually, the resolutions were mainly reliant on these other characters too.  For instance, Maggie needed to be confident in herself, her past, and her calling. Once she was, it was just a matter of waiting for other people to do their part so everything would work out.

Cal and Maggie together, eh.  I don’t know.

Cal’s big conflict just irritated me. Well… more specifically Lynne’s conflict that she forced into being something that will haunt Cal for years irritated me. As someone with a chronic illness very similar to hers, this irritated me on a personal level even more than moral or Biblical reasons.  The less I say about that is probably for the best lol.

Finally, a lot happens from page one to “the end” – some of it seemingly random, some of it not – but that’s pretty par for the course with a Robyn Carr novel as well. After reading all 20-something books in the Virgin River series and all 9 in the Thunder Point series, I’m used to this and I know that if one subplot doesn’t interest me I need only to wait for the one that does.  The problem with What We Find is that none of them really did.

A lot happens from page one to “the end” – some of it seemingly random, some of it not – but that’s pretty par for the course with a Robyn Carr novel as well.

Still, even with these aspects that didn’t quite do it for me, What We Find sets us up nicely for this next series.  There are several secondary characters with whom I want to spend more time. Not to mention, the setting is unique while still delivering the classic community feel that Robyn Carr writes so well.  If you’re wanting to branch out into this author’s books however, I still recommend starting with Virgin River.  Tell Jack & Mel and Preacher & Paige that I sent you 🙂

–Carrie

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