The Next Always (Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy #1) by Nora RobertsThe Next Always by Nora Roberts
Published by Berkley on November 1, 2011
Genres: Romance
Pages: 353
Source: Borrowed: ebook
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The historic hotel in Boonsboro has endured war and peace, changing hands, even rumored hauntings. Now it’s getting a major facelift from the Montgomery brothers and their eccentric mother. Beckett is the architect of the family, and his social life consists mostly of talking shop over pizza and beer. But there’s another project he’s got his eye on: the girl he’s been waiting to kiss since he was fifteen.

After losing her husband and returning to her hometown, Clare Brewster soon settles into her life as the mother of three young sons while running the town’s bookstore. Busy, with little time for romance, Clare is drawn across the street by Beckett’s transformation of the old inn, wanting to take a closer look . . . at the building and the man behind it.

With the grand opening inching closer, Beckett’s happy to give Clare a private tour - one room at a time. It’s no first date, but these stolen moments are the beginning of something new - and open the door to the extraordinary adventure of what comes next . . .

I would feel bad about this if I wasn’t prepared for this exact outcome. I was initially going to read this trilogy along with a friend who bought all three books. She’s also the friend who always prods me to keep reading the In Death series that Roberts writes under JD Robb as well. I was worried this book would not work for me (it didn’t) but since I do love reading HGTV Magazine and other magazines dealing with decorating I didn’t think it would be too bad. I was wrong.

I had to stop reading at the 20 percent point when I realized that the majority of this book was just a plug for real life businesses that Roberts own. She owns an inn at Boonsboro and it also sounds like the pizza place and bookstore are also owned by her as well. Which just makes the book a weird brochure to stay at this inn and go to this town to eat at this place and also buy books there. I honestly think this could have worked if Roberts had included pictures of the inn and the pizza shop and bookstore in this book. Or did something like have a character designing a website and talking about setting it up for the inn and then readers could click on it and it would take you to the site. I did like the first page which showed a diagram of the town and the locations of the other places (pizza shop and book store) so I think something like that could have made the book more fun. I guess I am just used to looking at graphic novels and comics on my Kindle Fire now that I am in love with anything that has illustrations these days.

The hero and heroine in this one (Beckett Montgomery and Clare Brewster) were dull as dishwasher. I don’t even know why Beckett was attracted to Clare since there didn’t seem to be anything about her that stood out to me. Roberts depicts Clare as a widow with three young boys and honestly the first thing that stood out for me is that she made her a younger version of the character in Black Rose (In the Garden #2) Rosalind Harper. Rosalind was also a widow with three sons. I also saw mixes of Zoe McCourt from Key of Valor (Key Trilogy #3) as well. I maybe rolled my eyes at Clare being widowed after her husband was killed by a sniper in Iraq. I honestly had to stop reading some of Macomber’s books for a while since every heroine was a widow and her husband died while working for special forces in Afghanistan. My friend who got further than I did let me know that some random dude appears and starts to stalk Clare so I guess that was what Roberts threw in between the long descriptions of rooms, decorations, and how people smelled.

Most of the men in these books fit one of three archetypes (nerdy guy who is deep down a very sexual being though you wouldn’t know it, the guy who is uptight who also may be afraid to commit/is ready to commit, and the bad boy). Sometimes the male characters are all three at once, but not usually. I guess that Beckett (the name alone people) is going to fit archetype #1. I honestly thought he was interested in the owner of the pizza shop first since he had more to say to her and noticed her changing the color of her hair. But when Clare was introduced, I had to go back and double-check she wasn’t the pizza shop owner.

There really wasn’t enough that I read for me to comment on other characters. Beckett is one of three boys so his other brothers Owen and Ryder. Based on the names alone, who do you think is what archetype? Owen seemed humorless to me and Ryder was a smartass. That’s all I got.

The writing was just one big love letter to the inn. Once the ghost entered the picture I was out. Once again, I saw shades of In the Garden and felt too annoyed to go on after that piece. The flow was hampered too since we would just randomly have one character talking about furniture or decorations and my eyes would glaze over.

I have to say though, that starting this book and DNFing it made me think about the In the Garden trilogy which honestly was the last trilogy I really enjoyed. I think I am going to go and re-read that soon.

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