Tag: Nora Roberts

The Next Always (Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy #1) by Nora Roberts

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
Goodreads
dnf

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.

dnf

Divine Evil by Nora Roberts

Divine Evil by Nora RobertsDivine Evil by Nora Roberts
Published by Bantam on 1992
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 568
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
one-star

A decade ago, sculptor Clare Kimball fled Emmitsboro, Maryland, to take the art world by storm. Now she’s celebrated as the artist of her generation. But no amount of success can eclipse the nightmares that haunt her—or the memories of her father’s suicide. Just as her star is shining brighter than ever, Clare leaves it all behind to face her demons.

Emmitsboro sheriff Cameron Rafferty loved Clare from afar all through high school. Now that she’s back, they form a bond that grows stronger each day—fueled by an attraction that’s been simmering for years. But Clare’s past soon rises up with a vengeance, rocking the town with a sinister murder that is clearly linked to her return. As an investigation gets under way, Clare and Cameron will learn that evil can linger anywhere—even in those you love and trust the most. But it’s a discovery that may come too late to save them.…

This was so long and tedious. Also there’s barely any romance and what there is you quickly forget about it when it comes to reading about the group sex, rapes, murders, and animals being killed. Heck we even get a scene of a man being beaten to death which actually turned my stomach. I don’t think the main characters or secondary characters were very developed. And there’s a topic of racism introduced and dropped quickly which was odd. The ending was a total nonstarter. I can see if Roberts had wrote a sequel to this, but since she didn’t, this book has an odd and menacing ending.

Clare Kimball is a sculptor living in New York. Even though she is on the cusp of making a name for herself she still feels unsettled by her father’s death years earlier. Coming home she found him dead of what looked to be an apparent suicide. And a dream she had as a child which comes back to her now and again haunts her. When her mother remarries and goes on her honeymoon, Clare decides to return to her former home in Emmitsboro, Maryland. She thinks she can stay there and work on new pieces and maybe come to terms other her father’s death and her anger towards her mother for moving on.

So Clare sucks. She has a best friend named Angie, who runs an art gallery with her husband Jean-Paul. Apparently she has no other friends though her twin brother Blair makes random appearances. She also is divorced though you don’t hear much about her first marriage. You quickly find out that Clare is angry/upset about her mother and her moving on. She feels stuck and thinks returning to a town she hasn’t lived in in about a decade is definitely the answer. When she returns she runs into Cameron (Cam) Rafferty. Can has also returned to the hometown after being a cop in DC. He’s now the new sheriff and is dealing with a lot of bad memoires due to his mother and his stepfather.

Obviously theses two are romantically interested in each other. But Roberts breaks that up with allowing readers POV of a young woman being raped and murdered and then a young teen boy who is apparently into Satanism and is obsessed with Clare.

Clare hides what she starts to discover about her father’s interest in the occult. And Cam gets into it with his stepfather and locks him up. When the man is found naked and beaten to death more things come to light in the supposed sleepy rural town.

I honestly felt like this was two stories meshed into one. Either Roberts should have had Clare investigating once she realized some truths about her father. Or Cam should have been the focus with him trying to reconcile with his mother. Instead neither characters center stage in this book. I felt more for Cam especially when there’s a reveal about how his father died and I hated that I don’t think he was told during the course of the story. I did want him and his mother reconciled but sadly that doesn’t happen.

Either way Clare does her sculptures and then all of a sudden gets emeshed in a case when a young woman she accidentally hits with her car that was running from men in the woods. Though she still wants to hide any thoughts about her father. Her brother and then Angie and Jean-Paul are in Emmitsboro trying to keep and eye on Clare. It honestly doesn’t make any sense why anyone is afraid of Clare’s return. She doesn’t go around asking questions or anything related to her father. Whatever.

Can I say that these Satanists are stupid? Who goes around abducting and murdering people thinking they will get away with it? And these seem like 80s TV movie versions of Satanists. I wish Roberts had introduced more information on how these dumb men were even lured to do things like this. Roberts tries to with the ending, but it was so out of left field I rolled my eyes.

The setting of this small town didn’t feel like Maryland to me. It felt more Midwest to me. With the talk of the smallness of the town and barely any stores or shops and small farms I had a hard time with that.

As I said above, the ending left things open ended and was a weird note to end this book on. I don’t recommend this.

one-star

Brazen Virtue (DC Detectives #2) by Nora Roberts

Brazen Virtue (DC Detectives #2) by Nora RobertsBrazen Virtue by Nora Roberts
Published by Bantam on December 8th 2010
Genres: Romance
Pages: 290
Source: Purchased: ebook
Goodreads
two-half-stars

After a demanding book tour, superstar mystery novelist Grace McCabe decides to visit her sister, Kathleen, who’s embroiled in a custody battle after a bitter divorce. Arriving in D.C., Grace is shocked to find Kathleen living in a run-down neighborhood and, hoping to afford a hotshot lawyer, supplementing her meager teacher’s salary by moonlighting as a phone sex operator.

According to Kathleen, Fantasy, Inc., guarantees its employees ironclad anonymity. But Grace has her doubts—which are confirmed one horrifying cherry-blossom-scented night when one of Fantasy, Inc.’s operators is murdered. As Grace is drawn to help solve the crime, her life turns into a scene from one of her own books. Yet as one of her biggest fans, investigator Ed Jackson, warns her: This isn’t fiction. Real people die—and Grace could be next. For she’s setting a trap for a killer more twisted than anything she could imagine. And not even Ed may be able to protect her from a rendezvous with lust and death.

Trigger warning: rape. 

I read this for Romance Book Bingo: Love is Murder square.

So book #2 definitely does not work as well as book #1 does. The story-line felt very rushed (the hero declares his love for the heroine before they even make love, proposes marriage after they make love for the first time) and the serial rapist/murderer did not work real well. The two leads had no real chemistry and I was more happy to see the return of Tess and Ben then to spend anytime with the new heroine and hero.

Our heroine (Grace McCabe) is a famous murder mystery writer. She comes to visit her sister Kathleen who has relocated back to their hometown of DC. Kathleen is going through a contentious divorce and is working as phone sex operator during her nights when she is not teaching by days. Now I weirdly found this charming. Considering our environment today, someone calling up someone who is willing to just talk about their sexual fantasies seems pretty PG-13 right now. Unfortunately, a hacker who has somehow (it is never explained) hacked into the phone sex company’s phone and computer listens in whenever Kathleen takes a call. Kathleen has become the perfect woman to him, and he wants a relationship with her. Yeah relationship in this case equals rape.  Eventually Twisted Don Juan shows up and rapes and murders Kathleen. This causes Grace to interact more with Kathleen’s next door neighbor, DC detective, Ed Jackson.

We got to know a little bit about Ed in book #1. I found him endearing and weird in that book, and off-putting as anything in this book. No worries, Grace irritated the life out of me too. Ed pretty much falls instantly in love with Grace as soon as he sees her. When he finds out she is his favorite mystery author he is pretty much in heaven. When Grace’s sister is found raped and murdered by an unknown assailant, Ed decides no matter what he is going to find the killer.

These two as romance leads really doesn’t work. I don’t know if it was Ed’s insta-love that put me off, or the fact that Grace takes a phone call while at Ed’s and talks to his mom off screen about everyone in his family. It was weird and dancing towards creepy.

Image result for this is weird gif

Also, I am five years old, but Ed’s description of a big tall mountain man, with a big red bushy beard did not appeal to me at all. I just kept thinking every-time Grace kissed him she probably got a mouthful of hair. Also the sex scenes were vanilla/boring. I never got the feeling that Grace was in love with Ed. He was there for her at a terrible time in her life. But his insta-love thing would have had most women running the other way.

Secondary character development in this one is really lacking. Having Ed’s family off-screen was a big miss. Roberts should have included them. Or heck have Ed call them back after the weird personal phone call his mother had with Grace. Grace’s parents come into town to bury one daughter and just disappear. It was an odd choice. Most families, or at least mine would have been calling me day and night asking me to check the locks on the doors and windows. The serial rapist was lame as anything. I also hated Tess being involved with this and her maybe taking over counseling for the guy. At least the ending throws that random plot out of the window though. Speaking of Tess, her and Ben’s re-appearance was great. I wish we spent more time with them.

The writing was so-so in this one. I just felt everything that worked well in the first book, just didn’t work well here. I think us going back and forth between Ed, Grace, Tess, Ben, the serial rapist, the potential and actual victims in the book made it feel crowded. As I said in my first review, this was a great look into what makes Robert’s “In Death” books work so well now. She definitely got some practice in. This one sadly was just not a home-run. There’s a side-plot about the real Kathleen that gets dealt with too quickly. I wish that Roberts had dealt more on the fact that the sister that Grace thought she knew, wasn’t who she thought she was.

The setting of DC unlike with the previous book is just confined to Ed and Grace’s homes. I do not ever want to read again about someone renovating their house. It’s boring. At one point I was all why are we spending time on them talking about dry-wall? And then I realized I didn’t care and wanted to finish the book.

The ending was lackluster. There is no real oomph to the reveal like in book #1 since readers are informed of who the bad guy is in this one earlier on.

This has nothing to do with the review, but I was so surprised when I went to check this out via Overdrive and had my Kindle sending me a message saying this book is in your library. Color me shocked. I apparently bought this back in 2011 and I have no memory of reading it. So take that little factoid as you will if you feel like taking a spin at this series.

two-half-stars

Sacred Sins (DC Detectives #1) by Nora Roberts

Sacred Sins (DC Detectives #1) by Nora RobertsSacred Sins by Nora Roberts
Published by Bantam on July 29th 2009
Genres: Romance
Pages: 370
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
four-stars

In the unbearable heat of another sultry Washington, D.C., summer, a serial killer is on the loose. Dr. Tess Court, one of the capital’s most successful psychiatrists, wants nothing to do with the case—until the police convince her to lend a hand to the lead investigator, legendary ladies’ man Detective Ben Paris.

Scarred by his family’s history, Ben has even less use for shrinks than Tess has for him—but the forces of animal magnetism and a shared desire to catch the demented criminal known as “The Priest” inexorably erode the walls they’ve built. They’re opposites in so many ways, yet that seems only to fan the flames of attraction for which danger has supplied the spark. To stop a killer who thinks he can absolve sins through murder, Ben will need every ounce of psychological insight Tess can offer him. And she’ll need the help of a lawman willing to stare fear in the face if she’s going to avoid becoming the madman’s next victim.

I read this for Romance Book Bingo 2017: Headless Woman square.

I vaguely recall reading this book when I was a teenager. I re-read it because I was totally light on details. I think I ended up getting bored with it and never finishing it though. If the book didn’t have a cover with a woman half out of a dress with Fabio and his flowing mane of hair I tended to not sneak those from my mom.

Image result for fabio gif

Sacred Sins is a pretty good procedural by Roberts. There was some romance, and the two leads didn’t annoy me to death like in the sequel (you can read that review later). You can see some elements that will follow Roberts later on in her “In Death” books later on. Heck, I see the heroine in this one, Tess Court, being really similar to Doctor Charlotte Mira.

The set-up is that psychiatrist Tess Court is asked to help out the DC police when they suspect a serial killer is in their midst. Tess is reluctant to take the case, however, the MO of the killer has her wondering about whether this killer is as evil as the police portray him to be. Her ability to look at the gray in something that looks totally black and white sets her up for constant fighting with D.C. detective Ben Paris. Ben has a lot of feelings about psychiatrists (none of them good) and thinks in the end all Tess is going to do is give out some sob story about the serial killer when he is eventually captured.

I have to say, that I really enjoyed Tess. I think it’s honestly because of the fact she comes across as sensible. She doesn’t go around disparaging any of her patients with mental issues. She even clues into the fact that perhaps the serial killer may be schizophrenic based on his writing, what he is doing to the victims after they die, and even what he is telling her once he seeks her out. I don’t know if I could have been able to keep my head like Tess does or be able to be so neutral when she gets involved with this case. Her ability to fight to get her patients what care they need in order to live full lives is what really made me like her.

The character of Ben was a little harder to take. I think it’s because Roberts sets him up as a ladies man. Which is okay, but I just wasn’t seeing it. His annoyance at feeling attraction for the good doctor and him fighting against it felt very true too. The issues with him not wanting to see the “bad” in the world though got a bit old. I liked that Tess pushed back on him wanting her to be separate from his work. He’s a cop, they are seeing each other, she wants to be part of that too.

The secondary characters really work for this one too. Ben’s partner Ed Jackson is a straight up hippie. I am still trying to wrap my head around anyone in DC in the late 1980s (this was originally published in 1987) would be all about not eating meat, not smoking, and eating berries every five minutes. I also liked that we get some insight into a Catholic priest who also has a degree in psychiatry who is able to give some insights into the serial killers more religious meanings behind these deaths. One of Tess’s patients is also included as a secondary character, and my heart broke with that whole story-line. Roberts does a great job writing a teenage boy who feels lost and alone.

The romance between the two of them really works for me. Though I have to say, I was not a fan of Ben being handsy with Tess without permission. A few times Roberts notes that he reaches out and takes some of her hair and winds it or plays with it. Umm this is before they even are physical with each other. Then again, I am a black woman, do not touch my hair without permission.

Image result for dont touch my hair gif

The writing is pretty good. I thought Roberts does a great job setting up the overall plot. We get POVs from Ben, Tess, and the serial killer. We also get a couple of what I thought were funny moments. I also loved how Roberts shows how Tess is affected by what happens to her patients, though she does her best to not let it overwhelm her.

The flow is a little slow here and there, but I am not going to complain about how Roberts sets the book up. She does a good job of building everything up. I did get a bit over the back and forth between Tess and Ben though (regarding what are they doing) and I was just waiting for Ben to catch up to the fact that he really cared about and was falling in love with Tess.

The setting of DC made me smile. Roberts obviously knows the city layout and she is able to point out a few landmarks that I know (Rock Creek Park, the Kennedy Center, etc.) and makes the city as much a part of the whole book as the characters.

The ending is the only part that I think really came out of left field. It felt a little Lifetime Movie for me when you find out the serial killer is the ice cream delivery man that has been running around.

four-stars

Daring to Dream by Nora Roberts

Daring to Dream by Nora RobertsDaring to Dream by Nora Roberts
Published by Jove on August 29th 2006
Genres: Romance
Pages: 376
Source: Borrowed: print book
Goodreads
three-stars

Margo, Kate and Laura were brought up like sisters amidst the peerless grandeur of Templeton House. But it was Margo whose dreams first took her far away . . .

Margo Sullivan had everything a young woman could ask for. But while growing up along the rocky cliffs of Monterey, she couldn't help but dream of bigger things. The daughter of the Templeton's stern Irish housekeeper, Margo had been treated like a member of the family. Deep down, she knew that money could not buy the thing she craved most -- her mother's acceptance.

Maybe things would be different if she could be sweet like Laura -- or had Kate's shrewd head for business. But all Margo knew how to do was be Margo, and that meant doing things her own way -- no matter what the consequences . . .

I loved this series and honestly point to this towards those who love Roberts who want to know where she gets up her male and female avatars in her later works. Also most of her plots in her later trilogies are based on similar set-ups with the males and females too. That said, I always get a kick out of the Dream trilogy.

I only re-read this first book because I honestly was so busy with a huge amount of other books that I just didn’t have the time to break away and get embroiled in this world again. For those who are looking for a really good contemporary romance where the male and female main characters are hot together, you cannot ask for much more. That said, I didn’t really care for the male and female hero/heroine in this one (Margo Sullivan and Josh Templeton).

Margo acts like a jerk for a good majority of this book and so does Josh. I liked both of them much better in the latter books where they grew up and didn’t make you want to hog tie them both to get them to shut up.  I think at one point I may have wished that Margo would lose her looks since that seems to be all she has going for her (seriously though her looks are commented on a lot).

I am stretching my brain a bit to recall if Roberts had another book such as this (main character friends with filthy rich people as a child and grows up lusting after the older brother) and I feel like maybe there are other books out there, I just can’t recall.

The writing is typical Nora Roberts which can be a comfort if you are in the mood for it. I think what throws me a lot in these books are sometimes conversations or wording will make me recall one of the later In Death books and I feel all confused. I think that is my one big problem with Roberts nowadays, none of the later books feel fresh, and when you go back and re-read the older ones you feel like you’ve read that story a dozen times or more.

The setting of the great Templeton house was interesting, I felt like the Templetons were modeled off of the Hilton family in a way. I am always laughing though at stories modeled on a family with a huge amount of money and they are hotel magnets.

The flow was off with this one though. I think it’s because it jumped locations way too much. And also most of the book was Margo and Josh being terrible or aggravating to the other one and you just get over that whole thing after about 10 minutes of reading it.

Roberts also does a great job of laying the groundwork for other characters in the next two books. I also like how Roberts in her later two books does a great job of calling back moments that we read and giving you another perspective. Though Daring to Dream is the first in the trilogy, I have to say that my favorite out of the three books is the next book in the series, Holding the Dream.

three-stars

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