Review: Nightwork

Review: NightworkNightwork by Nora Roberts
Published by St. Martin's Press on May 24, 2022
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 437
Goodreads
four-half-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: Roberts has written several thief stories over the years and while this one is not my favorite of the bunch, it is still amazing. I especially liked that it focused on the hero and his story. It is a long-haul epic story, but the romance here ended up being really good.

THE STORY: Harry Booth became a thief as a child to help his mother who suffered from cancer. He honed his craft for years. As an adult, he adopted a number of identities as he continued to steal but also get a college education (in an unorthodox manner). He meets a professor’s daughter, Miranda Emerson to who he has an immediate attraction, but he also knows that she is special. Just when things seem to be changing, a man from his past wants to use him as his own tool. The danger causes Harry to purposely abandon Miranda and start a new chapter in his life. Time passes and Harry must confront his past and the man who endangers his future. [Anything more will give away the twists in the story!]

OPINION: I slowly fell in love with this one. Roberts has written many thieves as heroes, but this one so sincerely wants something small and normal that I just adored him. I especially liked that Miranda is such a great fit for him and the book eliminated much of the interpersonal angst that I had expected. Instead, this is a deep dive into the hero’s life from being a young boy to his 30s. Like many of Roberts’ stand-alone books, the romance is a significant part, but not on the page for quite a while. Everything about this book worked for me. I loved the story of how Harry begins and takes control of his life. The romance was sweet and yet not too perfect. These two have a lot to work through, but there is always the sense that the connection between them was important and lasting. I also really loved the turn that Harry’s life takes in the book. It was unexpected but made him more complex as a character.

This book has a bunch of twists and turns, and even reading reviews can give away secrets revealed. This book was definitely worth my time and immediately went into my save and re-read in the future pile.

WORTH MENTIONING: Many of the characters have flexible moral compasses…though for me, it was all in the service of an overarching good.

CONNECTED BOOKS: NIGHTWORK is a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

 

four-half-stars

Review: Angels Fall

Review: Angels FallAngels Fall by Nora Roberts
Published by Putnam on July 11, 2006
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 391
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I haven’t read this book in decades so I had forgotten just about everything about this book. I quickly became absorbed by this story of a woman who recovers from a horrific event, witnesses a murder and begins to doubt her sanity which is definitely a romantic suspense with the emphasis on romance.

THE STORY: Chance lands Reece Gilmore in Angel’s Fist, Wyoming when her car breaks down. She’s been wandering the country after a horrific event that sent her fleeing from Boston as she works to rebuild herself and her life. When she witnesses a murder, Reece struggles to get others to believe her when there is no evidence that it ever happened. The only man that Reese is sure is not the murderer is local writer Brody. The two get to know one another as Reece tries to find the truth about the murder.

OPINION: I really enjoyed this book. It is a nice combination between the romance and the suspense portion for me because the story is heavy on the romance.

Reece is a woman who is struggling to rebuild her life. The book really depicts her struggles and I especially like that through this crisis she still manages to build something for herself. Brody is a gruff hero, but I always like how he supports Reece despite all evidence to the contrary. Their relationship worked even apart from the suspense story.

There is little more I can say about the plot because it works better the less a reader knows. The solution isn’t particularly novel, but I did think that the book did a good job leaving many possibilities open until the end.

WORTH MENTIONING: There is a made for TV movie based on this book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ANGELS FALL is a standalone book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Shelter in Place

Review: Shelter in PlaceShelter in Place by Nora Roberts
Published by St. Martin's Press on May 29, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 439
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: A difficult and timely subject. A mass shooting alters the lives of everyone connected to the events. Simone and Reed alter and rebuild their lives and eventually find one another. A nice romance combined with the suspense of someone who wants to continue the body count.

THE STORY: On a summer’s evening, three young men execute a horrible crime in a mall and theater in Maine. Simone Knox, a teenager, ends up hiding in the bathroom at the theater calling 911. Reed Quartermaine, a college student, is in the mall when the shooting takes place. That event changes both of their lives. Their struggles eventually bring them in orbit of one another while someone else is eliminating survivors.

OPINION: I generally prefer my books heavy on the romance with some suspense thrown in. This book is much more a suspense and story of rebirth after a tragedy, but the story works so well in bringing Reed and Simone together that I really enjoyed this one.

I enjoyed seeing these characters build their lives and find one another. The story between them was sweet and sexy (even if they don’t meet until well into the story), and I was intrigued for every page and turn of their story.

The characters were well drawn. The varying reactions to the tragedy not only for Reed and Simone but also for their friends, family and even strangers kept the story grounded and compelling.

The suspense story worked well for me but I really appreciated that while it was important, it did not overshadow for me the relationships of the characters. The book ends up being about hope, about overcoming tragedy. The violence ends up being a part of the story, but not the most important part.

It’s been a long time since one of Roberts’ standalone books has interested me so much. This one will be on my keeper shelf.

WORTH MENTIONING: Although the book deals with a violent subject, I thought the depiction of violence was not gratuitous or overly graphic.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SHELTER IN PLACE is a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

 

five-stars

Review: Betrayal in Death

Review: Betrayal in DeathBetrayal in Death (In Death, #12) by J.D. Robb, Nora Roberts
Series: In Death #12
Published by Berkley Books on March 1, 2001
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 355
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: More a thriller than a mystery, this one tests Eve’s skills as she hunts a professional killer who has Roarke in his sights. I loved the pacing of this one and the exploration of Roarke’s past.

THE STORY: The rape and murder of a hotel maid in one of Roarke’s hotels brings Eve on the case of a professional killer who seems to be targeting those who work for Roarke. Eve fears that Roake is the final target. But because the killer is a hired gun, Eve also has to figure out who is the hidden figure behind these crimes. The solution might rest in Roarke’s shady past.

OPINION: This is a page turner from beginning to end as Eve races against time to find the killer. The book is focused and exciting and has plenty of emotional heft between Eve and Roarke as she is the caretaker this time. This story shakes Roarke and Eve is the one who not only has to solve the crime but also manage the emotions of Roarke.

This book demonstrates how well this series does crime combined with serious character development. Eve and Roarke center this story. While the crimes are salacious and over the top at times, the emotional heart of the series is the relationship between these two and how they are opening up to one another and building a relationship.

The killer in this case is a professional who has some interesting quirks which make him memorable and particularly vicious. It is a particularly nasty episode, but the twist at the end gives this some good emotional connection.

WORTH MENTIONING: A cute part of the book is Eve and Roarke ending up giving relationship advice to Peabody and McNab.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BETRAYAL IN DEATH is the twelfth book in the In Death series. This book has an independent and stand alone mystery with continuing personal story lines.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

 

five-stars

Review: Judgment in Death

Review: Judgment in DeathJudgment in Death (In Death, #11) by J.D. Robb, Nora Roberts
Series: In Death #11
Published by Berkley Books on September 1st 2000
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 356
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: This is a great character book. The mystery was okay, but I loved how the mystery brings out some conflicts with characters and also gives the opportunity to delve more into Eve and Roarke’s pasts.

THE STORY: When a cop is found beaten to death in one of Roake’s clubs, Eve has to wonder what the motive is. When things about the cop are revealed, it appears that someone it targeting dirty cops. Both Eve and Roarke also find that people from their pasts are mixed up in the case as well which makes their own relationship a little bumpy for a while.

OPINION: This book is an example of what I enjoy about this series. I read the books as the character story of Eve with the mysteries and crimes as the excuse to delve into her world. Honestly, I find the crimes interesting, but I don’t generally analyze them. I want to know more about these characters and how they react to the crises before them.

This book is a good example of that. For me, the central conflict in this story is between Eve and Roarke when their pasts come back against to haunt them in this case. In comparison to the relative happiness in the prior book, this book reignites some of the conflicts between Eve and Roarke. While this is the eleventh book in the series, the two have been together for just over a year. They still have much to work through in their relationship and as things from the past pop out to disturb their happiness, Eve and Roarke have to navigate their relationship.

This book has some significant events especially about Eve’s past. There are lingering questions about Eve’s past and this book brings new information to light that will continue to be teased out in future books.

My favorite scenes in this book involve Webster. He becomes a catalyst in this book and I like the mess he stirs up.

The crime works well to carry the character moments for a purpose, but otherwise I didn’t find it one of the memorable ones.

WORTH MENTIONING: Man fight! This book also is the introduction of Max Richter.

CONNECTED BOOKS: JUDGMENT IN DEATH is the eleventh book in the In Death series. This series has mysteries in each book that operate as standalones but overarching character storylines. I think it is better to read the series in order to get the full impact, but this book can be read as a mystery standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Chesapeake Blue

Review: Chesapeake BlueChesapeake Blue (Chesapeake Bay Saga, #4) by Nora Roberts
Published by Berkley on January 1st 2002
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 357
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: Enjoyable read if somewhat forgettable in the end. The story works fine as I was reading it, but there is nothing lasting or intense in the story to make it a keeper.

THE STORY: Eighteen years since Seth Quinn came was rescued from his negligent and abusive mother to come live with the Quinns, Seth has returned home after a stint in Europe where he honed his skills as an artist. When he returns, he meets Dru Whitcomb Banks, who has shed her rich family to open a florist shop. As Dru and Seth get to know one another, Seth’s past won’t stay hidden as he has to deal with problems that arise while coaxing a woman who has been betrayed and finds it hard to trust and make connections.

OPINION: This book was difficult for me to rate. I enjoyed it while I was reading it, I really liked seeing the Quinn siblings and their families. I even liked Seth and Dru as a couple as they discussed their issues. But ultimately while I enjoyed this book, I don’t think it stands up against other books that I have read. The storyline works, but isn’t compelling enough and the characters aren’t interesting enough for this to be a book that calls for me to re-read it.

Seth is a little too good, perhaps. (Except for his blind spot for which he is rather wrongheaded). I thought he and Dru were a nice match and I really liked her character. But nothing in this case really goes deep. The characters drama and hurts just don’t feel intense. I did think their sexy encounters when Seth was painting Dru were the best part of the book. That felt emotional and intense.

I also really enjoyed the relationships between the brothers. That was a highlight of the entire series and repeated here with even more emotional resonance.

I think readers of the series should definitely read this one as it adds to the series in a nice way. I just walked away wanting more emotional connection and intensity.

WORTH MENTIONING: I’ve always wished that this book either resolved Aubrey’s story as well or that Roberts had written her story. She ended up being a really interesting character.

CONNECTED BOOKS: CHESAPEAKE BLUE is the fourth and final book in the Chesapeake Bay Saga. This book was a coda to the original trilogy and thus really depends upon the knowledge in the first three books in the series. I don’t think the plot works well without knowledge of those books.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

three-half-stars

Review: Inner Harbor

Review: Inner HarborInner Harbor (Chesapeake Bay Saga, #3) by Nora Roberts
Series: Chesapeake Bay Saga #3
Published by Berkley Books on January 1st 1999
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 324
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: Enjoyable read although the drama in the story isn’t as deep as might be expected from the description. I enjoyed watching these characters fall in love, but I felt there was more that could have been explored below the surface.

THE STORY: Phillip Quinn began life as a thief until he was taken in by the Quinns. Now he wears a veneer of sophistication. When he meets Dr. Sybill Griffin, he finds her reserve attractive. But Sybill has a secret reason for being in town. Sybill finds Phillip intriguing, but she is used to a life kept apart and observing, but although Phillip appears the cool sophisticate, there is something hot and wild under his exterior.

OPINION: This was an enjoyable read, but the story stays on the surface between these characters and thus is not as memorable as it could have been.

Phillip is a sly man. Sophisticated and polished, he also retains the fiery and untamed street rat he was. I liked the combination here, but there really isn’t much drama with his background as I might have expected. I thought the book missed that a bit instead focusing on Sybill. I still felt that Phillip was a little distant as a character because I never got deeper into his character.

Sybill is a good pair for Phillip because they both hide their pain under the sophistication and a type of coldness and distance. That was the interesting part of the story between these characters as they see something alike in one another. She is a harder to get to know, but I thought the book explored her character better than Phillip.

I did really like how the relationship between these two developed, I just wanted more.

The book also wraps up Sean’s story. That part was a bit underwhelming for me. A little too neat and easy for the setup in the first book. The series decides to focus on the relationships which works for me, but the first book set up some expectations that really didn’t come to fruition in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: This series was originally created as a trilogy but several years later Roberts added Seth’s book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: INNER HARBOR is the third book in the Chesapeake Bay Saga. This book should be read as part of the series even though the romance is self-contained because the developing relationships are good portion of the plot of this book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

 

three-half-stars

Review: Rising Tides

Review: Rising TidesRising Tides (Chesapeake Bay Saga, #2) by Nora Roberts
Series: Chesapeake Bay Saga #2
Published by Jove on August 1st 1998
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 330
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: One of the best of Nora Roberts’ family dramas, this romance has a languid build between these two friends. The pace feels just right for a real relationship as these two overcome the pain of their pasts.

THE STORY: Ethan Quinn stayed at home when his other brothers roamed. Steady as the bay in which he works, Ethan hides turmoil and pain from his youth. Working with his brothers to raise the boy that their father took in before his death, Ethan plans to focus on their new business. But the woman he has known for years, Grace Monroe, won’t seem to let him go. Determined to keep his distance from the young mother to protect her, Ethan can’t seem to resist Grace’s pull.

OPINION: This book is a perfect example of the best of Nora Roberts’ work. The story has a tremendous feeling of place where I can almost smell the bay. The entire family of characters are three dimensional and interesting in their own right. They feel real and genuine. These are characters without the easy crutch of wealth and power.

This is one of my favorite books of Roberts because everything just works in this book.

Grace is a woman who is struggling but has pride in being independent and taking care of her daughter. She has flaws — the primary one being that she is incredibly stubborn.  She also fundamentally doesn’t know or understand the struggles that Ethan is going through. She makes assumptions without seeing the dark undercurrent of his life.

Ethan is a man good at hiding his pain and self-loathing. He has had his eye on Grace for years but has kept his distance because he doesn’t see himself as being worthy of her. But he is a good man. He is strong and reliable and everything that society sees as manly. Which makes the complexity of his character work so well. He is such a wonderful hero.

I loved these characters and the slow unfolding of their relationship works so well here. The book takes it time in showing their relationship and letting the crisis points come and pass with a natural and real timetable. This is my favorite book in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: The overarching story line with Sean doesn’t progress much in this book which means that everything is set up for book three.

CONNECTED BOOKS: RISING TIDES is the second book in the Chesapeake Bay Saga. While each book has a separate couple and thus can be read on its own, there is an overarching story line dealing with the family and thus I believe it is better to read this in order as part of the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Sea Swept

Review: Sea SweptSea Swept (Chesapeake Bay Saga, #1) by Nora Roberts
Series: Chesapeake Bay Saga #1
Published by Jove Books on January 1st 1998
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 330
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: A comfortable read about a man who changes his life after the death of his father leaves him and his brothers with the responsibility for a ten year old and begins a relationship with a social worker. The story builds towards the end and offers a springboard for the series.

THE STORY: Cameron Quinn has sailed around the world racing boats and wooing women. The death of his father brings him home where he and his two brothers face decisions on what to do with the ten year old boy that their father brought into their family. The three men have to find a way of building a family in order to keep guardianship of the young boy which challenges all of the lives they have built. They also have to satisfy the watchful eyes of Anna Spinelli, a social worker, who has her doubts that the three men can build a home for a wary and damaged child.

OPINION: This book’s romance suffers a little from the introduction books. The situation and the characters all have to be set out which means that Anna and Cam get less “screen time”. Their romance was only okay for me until the last quarter of the book where things pick up and end on a high emotional note.

I enjoyed this book primarily because of the Quinn family dynamics. There is something really special in how these three men and a young boy figure make a family. The story is both inspirational and sweet. And I love watching these strong men give up whatever they have to for the love of family.

Anna and Cam are both damaged people who have triumphed through the love of others. Unfortunately, we don’t get much into their heads in this book. So while I really enjoy the story of this book, I wish the romance had been stronger.

At the same time, the comfortable nature of this story makes it one that I’ve read before and would read again on a rainy day.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book clearly is part of a series so ongoing story lines are not finished but the romance is complete here.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SEA SWEPT is the first book in the Chesapeake Bay Saga.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Conspiracy in Death

Review: Conspiracy in DeathConspiracy in Death (In Death, #8) by J.D. Robb, Nora Roberts
Series: In Death #8
Published by Berkley Books on April 1st 1999
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 372
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: A dangerous and powerful killer is determined to keep secrets and will do anything — even destroy Eve — for protection. This is one of the best in the series because the story hits close to Eve when the killer turns on her.

THE STORY: A killer is expertly removing organs from vulnerable people for a mysterious purpose. The first kill is a street person with his heart removed in a precise and clean manner. It appears that the killer might be a well-trained surgeon.  When Eve presses for answers, she becomes a danger and has to be eliminated. Suddenly Eve, herself, is in the crosshairs and has to fight for what matters to her along with uncovering the killer.

OPINION: This is one of my favorite books in the series because of the connection between the events in the case and Eve’s personal life. And the connection is done in an interesting way and not the typical sexual crime case that triggers her memories so often.

Readers of the series know that Eve has a childhood filled with rape and abuse. She has made herself by dedicating herself to her job. This book challenges that part of her life and Eve has to deal with that along with solving the crime. When I read these books, I am not as interested in the solving of the crime as I am with the overarching story about Eve.

For me, this book by forcing Eve to confront some of her deepest fears about herself shows her strength and determination and also how much she has changed from the closed off woman from NAKED IN DEATH.

Although Eve is deeply challenged here, she is not alone anymore.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book introduces both Don Webster and Louise Dimatto.

CONNECTED BOOKS: CONSPIRACY IN DEATH is the eighth book in the In Death series. The crime/mystery is completely separate and independent, but there are continuing personal story lines in the series. I suggest the series be read in order because of the significant personal stories.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars