Watching Virgin River, the hit romance series from Netflix, is an exercise in patience. You know what you want to happen – what needs to happen – but waiting for the characters to figure it out can be excruciating. I’m looking at you, Mel and Jack.
But novels are the perfect solution to two problems. First, they’re a way to occupy the romance center of your brain after you’re done tearing through season 4 of Virgin River. In all the books we recommend, the lovers are winsome and the small town settings are sufficiently mountainous.
But the second advantage of books series over TV series is that you can set your own pace, making it from the meet-cute all the way to happily-ever-after in the same time it takes the Netflix producers to introduce (yet another) pregnancy storyline.
The Virgin River novels by Robyn Carr
Okay, this one is obvious, but the storylines are sufficiently different from those of the Netflix show to be worth your time. Plus, there are 21 of these novels, which should be plenty to consume until season 5 is released. You can read the books in order, but Carr herself is on record saying it’s not required. They also massively expand on the character list to the point where you’ll be hoping your new favorites eventually show up on the TV version.
Thunder Point novels by Robyn Carr
If the Pacific Northwest corner of America is your kink, look no further than: more Robyn Carr. Her Thunder Point series is set a few hundred miles north of Virgin River, on Oregon’s rocky coast. This time it’s the story’s male lead whose arrival jumpstarts the neighbours’ gossiping, but other than that you can expect the same satisfying formula: love under the microscope of small-town living.
The Lucky Harbor novels by Jill Shalvis
These novels, set in, yes, another small, made-up town with mountain views and water vistas, caught my eye because of praise from Robyn Carr on the cover. If you like Jack from Virgin Riveryou’ll likely be piqued by Tanner from the book One in a Millionwho shares his adrenaline-fuelled past.
But the first novel Shalvis published in the series, which can be read out of order, is actually a lot like the plot of Virgin River, the TV series. In Simply Irresistible – a book you must not judge by its cheesy title – the Los Angeles woman at the story’s center flees to the tiny hamlet of Lucky Harbor in Washington State in hopes of reinventing her life.