I fell in love with women’s fiction (or whatever you want to call it) through Robyn Carr books. Working my way through Carr’s Virgin River series and then her Grace Valley series, opened my eyes to the kind of friendships, the kind of romance, I hoped for myself and my friends. Her worlds are full of people who are so horribly relatable that I might find them walking down the street in my own neighborhood. Robyn Carr books are almost always full of backwoods bars, mother hen types, and friendships forged in the darkest hours life’s tragedies.
The recipient of the 2016 RWA Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award, Carr has solidified her place among the best and greatest women’s fiction and romance writers. And so, figuring out where to start on your Robyn Carr journey is a daunting task. Her Virgin River series, magnificent in scope and world-building, is twenty books long. TWENTY. Uffdah, that series is an investment; one that is completely worth it if Carr’s no-nonsense writing style is your cup of tea. So before you dive into Virgin River, try a standalone or a short Carr series to give you a bit of a teaser.
Begin With Deep in the Valley
I’ve recommended this book before, and I’m going to keep recommending since it made such a deep and lasting impact on my reading life. This book kicked me out of my post-college reading slump and into the world of romantic fiction. Deep in the Valley is the first book in Carr’s Grace Valley trilogy. In this book, we meet a small-town doctor, June, her secret boyfriend, Jim, June’s meddling father, and the entire Grace Valley cast of characters. Note: Although I’m recommending Deep in the Valley as the first book in your Robyn Carr Reading Pathway very honestly, I’m recommending this entire trilogy. There is a series-long arc that begins in Deep in the Valley, but luckily for readers with massive TBR piles, this series is a relatively quick read. So, commit to all three books (Just Over the Mountain and Down by the River rounding out the series) and you’ll get a pretty darn authentic taste of Carr’s writing style and her particular vein of women’s fiction.
Next, Read The House on Olive Street
This book is one of the earliest Carr works I’ve had the pleasure of reading and a prime example of one of her standalone novels. The book follows four friends grieving a beloved member of their tribe that has passed. The women, Sable, Elly, Beth, and Barbara Ann move into the friend’s house together to clean up, get her affairs in order, and tackle their own personal trials. The House on Olive Street is a little-known gem full of female camaraderie. Spanning an entire summer, the women push one another to be better writers (all of their chosen professions), better friends, better partners, and better people. No one goes quietly and not a single person navigates their new normal flawlessly.
Finally, Read Virgin River
If you made it through the Grace Valley books and enjoyed one of Carr’s standalones you are now ready for the big time; you’ve made it to Virgin River. A word of warning here, this series is addicting. It merges a main hero and heroine’s story with little bits of small-town life in each of the twenty books, and it also gives readers continued peaks into the lives of mainstay characters from previous books within the series. The commitment for this series may seem daunting, but it’s incredibly rewarding to read even a few of these novels.
There you have it, a place to start if you want to try reading Robyn Carr’s women’s fiction. I hope you find a book you enjoy and fall in love with Carr’s work like me!
Did I miss any Robyn Carr books that you think it perfect for newbie readers? If so, let me know in the comments what book you’d choose.