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Here’s How to Read the Virgin River Books in Order

Bide your time while waiting for Season 5 to hit Netflix by reading all the Virgin River books in order

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Read your way through Virgin River

Wondering what to do while you wait for Netflix’s Virgin River Season 5 to drop in 2023? We suggest immersing yourself in the books that inspired the show. There are more than 20 titles in Robyn Carr’s book series, but reading the Virgin River books in order will help you stay on top of the rapidly expanding cast of characters and the twists and turns of their lives.

There’s no denying the appeal of the charming fictional community of Virgin River. The series has quickly established itself as one of the best shows on Netflix, spending more than 100 days on the Top 10 list and sitting in first place for 35 days. So if you’re missing the characters after bingeing the first four seasons, you’re not alone. Diving into these romance novels will fill the Virgin River–size void in your life and give you a peek at what may happen in upcoming seasons. Virgin River has your back, whether you love filling your shelves with books written by female authors or simply some of the best books in the romance category.

How many volumes are in the Virgin River book series?

There are 21 novels in the Virgin River series, but some have been repackaged into three thematic anthologies over the years. Below, we’ve got the information you need to read them in the correct order. We’ve included the October 2022 anthology at the end of our list; while it’s a bundling of two previously published stories, it also includes new recipes inspired by the characters. Even if you read some of the series out of order, it’s always best to start with Carr’s first novel about the town, appropriately titled Virgin River.

Ready to step into the world of Virgin River? Let’s go!

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1. Virgin River

It only makes sense to start reading the Virgin River books at the very beginning. This one is the ultimate feel-good story. Fans of the Netflix show will love revisiting the blossoming romance between widowed nurse Melinda “Mel” Monroe and rugged local bar owner Jack Sheridan. Virgin River, published in 2007, marks Carr’s first foray into the small-town world that blossoms throughout the series. And it’s readers’ introduction to Netflix-famous Mel, Jack, Hope and other beloved townsfolk.

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2. Shelter Mountain

The author wasted no time writing the second novel of the Virgin River series. In 2007, she gave readers the story of John “Preacher” Middleton, a character fans of the Netflix series will know well. The former Marine has seen his share of pain and trauma, so he jumps into action when Paige, a woman stalked and abused by her ex-husband, arrives at the bar with her young son in tow. But is he ready to open his heart and get entangled with someone who might be safer outside of Virgin River? It’s a love story, sure, but it’s also one of our favorite books about friendship.

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3. Whispering Rock

Say hello to Netflix series heroine Brie Sheridan, the scrappy Sacramento lawyer seeking a haven in charming Virgin River. She’s also Jack’s sister, giving readers a chance to peek in on the lives of the bar owner and the love of his life, Mel. But Whispering Rock (also published in 2007) differs from its on-screen counterpart because—spoiler alert!—rather than falling for complicated drug dealer Dan Brady, Brie is drawn to a different character. If you have a thing for supportive romance heroes who fawn over their one true love, Whispering Rock will be right up your alley. Prefer banter and butting heads? Check out these great enemies-to-lovers romances.

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4. A Virgin River Christmas

This 2008 holiday tale introduces characters you won’t find (yet!) in Netflix’s Virgin River series. While it could work as a stand-alone novel, A Virgin River Christmas is better as the fourth installment if you’re reading the Virgin River books in order. On the first anniversary of her husband’s death, Marcie Sullivan heads to Virgin River to find Ian, one of the men he fought alongside in Fallujah. Ian is a little rough around the edges, but in this season of warmth and celebration, the two build a friendship that begins to melt their damaged hearts. As books based on your favorite TV shows go, this is one of our top picks for the holiday season.

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5. Second Chance Pass

The cast of the Virgin River series continues to grow in this 2009 story of a widowed mother, Vanessa, and her husband’s best friend, Paul. Their tender romance is complicated by Paul’s loyalty to his former war buddy. Is he dishonoring his friend by falling for Vanessa? Or is this the ultimate redemptive tale? In the end, this Virgin River edition is an emotional read about what it takes to heal and find happiness.

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6. Temptation Ridge

Another 2009 release, Temptation Ridge is a classic Virgin River romance. Twenty-five-year-old Shelby McIntyre is supposed to be on a quick trip to Virgin River before setting off to spend a few years traveling and finishing college. But then she runs into Luke Riordan. He’s tough, jaded and more than 10 years her senior. There shouldn’t be a spark, yet neither can deny it. Will the tug of attraction to him and the idyllic town be enough to tie her down? If you haven’t already devoured it before summer, add this one to your beach reads list.

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7. Paradise Valley

Fans of the Netflix series will love Paradise Valley, which weaves together several stories and focuses on a few screen stars that haven’t gotten much mention in the books so far (if you’re reading the Virgin River books in order). First, there’s Rick, Jack’s young mentee, who has just returned early from his first tour in Iraq. Sweet Lizzie is thrilled to have him home until she realizes that his time away might have ruined his heart beyond repair. And then there’s Dan Brady, the bad boy. He catches the eye of Brie, Jack’s sister, in the Netflix series but gets a different love interest here. With those and two other love stories (you’ll root for Walt and Muriel, and Cameron and Abby), this 2009 novel is heartwarming and jam-packed with themes of redemption and loyalty through pain. Add it to your summer reading list!

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8. Under the Christmas Tree

Enjoy Carr’s 2009 holiday read as a stand-alone novel, or buy the That Holiday Feeling anthology, which also includes festive stories from cozy romance authors Debbie Macomber and Sherryl Woods. In Under the Christmas Tree, the Virgin River community rallies around veterinarian Nathaniel Jensen when he rescues a gaggle of abandoned puppies. The doggy rescue puts him in the spotlight, but what really gets townsfolk talking is his new love interest.

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9. Forbidden Falls

While reading the Virgin River books in order is not critical, doing so will help you keep tabs on who’s who and ensure you meet new characters in the order they were introduced. The 2010 release of Forbidden Falls is readers’ introduction to Reverend Noah Kincaid. New and old characters’ daily lives intersect in this wildly romantic tale of Noah’s renovation of the town’s abandoned church and his blossoming but forbidden romance with beautiful, vivacious Ellie Baldwin. Like most novels in the Virgin River series, this one’s a fairly cheap book when purchased in mass-market paperback format.

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10. Angel’s Peak

Another 2010 addition to the Virgin River books, Angel’s Peak introduces former Air Force flames Franci Duncan and Sean Riordan. The two broke up years ago when Sean wouldn’t commit to marriage. But Franci’s been hiding a secret ever since. When the Virgin River community realizes the depth of the deception, friends and neighbors take sides. Will this ruined relationship divide the town forever, or is there some way to heal old wounds? (Spoiler: Angel’s Peak is in the romance book genre, so we know there’s a happy ending.)

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11. Moonlight Road

Get ready for warm weather with Moonlight Road, a 2010 Virgin River novel that takes place in the summertime. As in the rest of the series, a new couple takes center stage while beloved characters from the previous books remain supporting characters. According to some Goodreads reviewers, this one shines the spotlight a little too much on Mel, who is facing another set of health-related obstacles. But others love the focus on the original couple, whose story is interspersed between sizzling scenes featuring sexy doctor Aiden Riordan and go-getter Erin Foley.

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12. Midnight Confessions

Combine New Year’s Eve with Virgin River and you have the makings of one magical midnight kiss. In this 2010 holiday novella, Jack’s Bar springs to life with festivities as locals and strangers gather to celebrate and prepare for a smooch when the clock strikes 12. Who will lock eyes across the crowded bar, and whose broken hearts will be mended for the new year? At just 80 pages, this short book, featuring Virgin River newcomers Drew and Sunny, is the perfect read for when you’re squeezed for time. Reading the Virgin River books in order? Know that Midnight Confessions is available only as an e-book.

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13. Promise Canyon

In her 13th Virgin River novel, published in 2011, Carr introduces readers to Clay Tahoma, a veterinary assistant from Flagstaff and the Navajo Nation. In Virgin River, he meets Lilly Yazhi, a Hopi woman trying to escape her past. This is Virgin River, so you know sparks fly! And of course, like all great romance novels, Promise Canyon makes its characters work for their happily ever afters.

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14. Wild Man Creek

In 2011’s Wild Man Creek, Virgin River is still the place for romance. Two new residents, Colin Riordan and Jillian Matlock, have come to town to start a new chapter. For Colin, the goal is overcoming the trauma of a recent helicopter crash. Jillian, on the other hand, is there to slow down and tend to her soul after facing a professional catastrophe. The plan for each is to simplify their lives, but the passion of new love is too hard to resist. Hint: This and the rest of the Virgin River series make great book club books for groups that love sweet romances.

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15. Harvest Moon

By the time Carr released Harvest Moon in 2011, she’d finessed her Virgin River formula. As one Goodreads reviewer put it, “The books are sweet, cozy, warm. Nothing here will surprise you, but they will entertain you. You get what you are hoping for here: good people who fall in love.” In Harvest Moon, those good people are burned-out chef Kelly Matlock and sexy widower Lief Holbrook. Only this time, there’s Lief’s persnickety stepdaughter to deal with.

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16. Bring Me Home for Christmas

During the holiday season, you might be tempted to head straight for the 2011 novel Bring Me Home for Christmas, but resist! Reading the Virgin River books in order is worth your while. This Christmas medley presents a reunion of familiar faces along with a sweet, cozy romance between two new ones: Becca Timm and Denny Cutler, two former lovers who just might get back together in time to kiss under the mistletoe. Pacify the kids with their own Christmas books, then curl up with this cozy read.

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17. Hidden Summit

Fans gravitate to the Virgin River books for comforting fiction that hits all the right romance beats. This far into the series, readers know exactly what they’re going to get—and that’s all part of the charm. Hidden Summit (published in 2012) unfolds much like other love stories in Virgin River: Two unsuspecting individuals retreat to the riverside town to overcome their pasts. Only this time, they both work at Paul Haggerty’s construction company. Readers who loved Second Chance Pass (book 5) will love revisiting Paul as he gets a close-up view of his hardheaded employees’ stubborn denial of their growing attraction.

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18. Redwood Bend

This 2012 Virgin River book begins on the road outside of town. A woman with a flat tire attracts the attention of a man on a motorcycle trip to Virgin River. As readers might expect, sparks fly, and the two journey into town together. Some reviewers bemoan the fact that Redwood Bend includes fewer familiar faces than previous titles, but others appreciate that the book brings the town to life through fresh eyes. Looking for more romance-filled fiction? Read your way through Colleen Hoover’s novels.

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19. Sunrise Point

Immersing yourself in the world of Virgin River feels like sinking into a cozy chair with a cup of hot tea at the end of a long, rainy day. And perhaps more than other stories, 2012’s Sunrise Point is the perfect calming remedy for readers who’ve just gone through a tough time. The sweet story of former marine Tom Cavanaugh falling head-over-heels for Nora Crane, a woman down on her luck, is infused with themes of healing and new beginnings.

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20. My Kind of Christmas

Are you ready for another holiday in Virgin River? Carr’s 2012 Christmas installment follows the story of two lonely souls who retreat to Virgin River with the hope of spending the holidays alone. But this snowy northern California town is no place to nurture heartbreak. Instead, the Sheridan and Riordan families step in to turn heartache into happiness—and perhaps a little romance too. If you’ve loving this cozy romance series, check out some cozy mysteries you’ll enjoy too.

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21. Return to Virgin River

After an eight-year hiatus, Carr gave readers what they craved in the autumn of 2020: a return to simpler times, courtesy of Virgin River. In Return to Virgin River, Kaylee Sloan, a Southern California writer facing a looming deadline, heads to the small town in search of inspiration. But when she arrives, her accommodation is no longer habitable. Frustrated and alone, Kaylee heads to Jack’s Bar to grab some grub and figure out a plan. But once she’s there and meets a bevy of kind strangers, she quickly becomes part of the community. Between the reunion of beloved characters and the blossoming love story just in time for the holidays, this is a triumphant ending to the series (at least so far!).

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22. Holidays in Virgin River

Holidays in Virgin River was released in 2022, but it’s a complementary—rather than compulsory—addition to your Virgin River reading list. That’s because the anthology is a bundle of two previously published books: Under the Christmas Tree and Midnight Kiss. What might make this one worth your while is that the edition includes never-before-seen recipes inspired by Virgin River and its characters. Not a big cook? You can skip this one. But any Virgin River fan who loves cooking or baking should pick up a copy. When you turn the last page on the Virgin River series, find your next great read by browsing this list of the best fiction books of the year.

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Leandra Beabout
Leandra Beabout writes for Reader's Digest and a variety of national lifestyle, wellness and travel publications and brand websites. She covers all things books and words for Reader's Digest, and when she's not on deadline, you can find her curled up with a new novel or planning her next trip.