Review: Whiskey Beach – Nora Roberts

SYNOPSIS: A Boston lawyer, Eli has weathered an intense year of public scrutiny and police investigations after being accused of–but never arrested for–the murder of his soon-to-be-ex wife.
He finds sanctuary at Bluff House, even though his beloved grandmother is in Boston recuperating from a nasty fall. Abra Walsh is always there, though. Whiskey Beach’s resident housekeeper, yoga instructor, jewelry maker, and massage therapist, Abra is a woman of many talents–including helping Eli take control of his life and clear his name. But as they become entangled in each other, they find themselves caught in a net that stretches back for centuries–one that has ensnared a man intent on reaping the rewards of destroying Eli Landon once and for all… – via Goodreads

Nora Roberts is nothing if not consistent. For reals. I recently read this looking for something a little lighter and fluffier but still featuring a murder mystery and all that, and this one ticked all those boxes. So I got right in it. For a blind choice in a Nora Roberts book, I must say I was relieved I didn’t get a wreck like the last time I winged a choice of her books without asking Natasha.

Anyway, the recipe for Whiskey Beach is nothing new – there is the typical characters, the stereotypes, their traits, how things happen, etc. There was that typical mentality woven throughout this books of “I am man, she is woman. Woman must nurture. Man must be.” I hate that stuff, really, and you don’t get a break from it here. Also, Abra (what the heck kind of name is that, anyway) also irritated me. She was pushy and forceful, and it wasn’t sexy. As for Eli? My goodness, also the stereotypical brooding, angry, broken man that moves in, is healed by her, then gets all alpha male and sweeps her off her feet. Yes, Nora, we know.

It’s still a silly, light read if you don’t take it to heart. There is a story to follow, and while the book is a bit long, it never really feels like that when you are reading it, which is an important thing when reading. These characters again have money and privilege, and so Roberts can weave any story she wants to, and the characters can pretty much do whatever they want.

Anyway, Whiskey Beach is a light, fluffy read, which is pretty much what I wanted. I liked reading about Eli’s predicament of being harassed for the murder of his wife, and how he is slowly but surely putting his life back together. Abra I found to be a bit too controlling and pushy, but she also has a pretty interesting backstory when you get to it. Not a bad read.

Review: Come Sundown – Nora Roberts

SYNOPSIS: Bodine Longbow loves to rise with the dawn. As the manager of her family’s resort in Western Montana, there just aren’t enough hours in the day – for life, for work, for loved ones. She certainly doesn’t have time for love, not even in the gorgeous shape of her childhood crush Callen Skinner, all grown up and returned to the ranch. Then again, maybe Callen can change her mind, given time…

But when a young woman’s body is discovered on resort land, everything changes. Callen falls under the suspicion of a deputy sheriff with a grudge. And for Bodine’s family, the murder is a shocking reminder of an old loss. Twenty-five years ago, Bodine’s Aunt Alice vanished, never to be heard of again. Could this new tragedy be connected to Alice’s mysterious disappearance?

As events take a dramatic and deadly turn, Bodine and Callen must race to uncover the truth – before the sun sets on their future together. – via Goodreads

Ah yes, another Roberts for me. This one was one of her better ones, as I really liked this one. It had an incredibly dark side to it that, for once, Roberts didn’t really shy away from, which worked for me. Maybe because I like dark and gritty, and her novels usually provide easy reading and very little investment.

Come Sundown is like a big family saga. Yes, sure, we know that Roberts really nails that down, and I have found that all her books that feature that more prominently are the ones I like more than average. This one worked really well. I liked the characters, I liked the family, I was interested in the resort and business they had set up and how it came together. I feel that the triple romances were bland, but no shocker there, and that some of the characters were more hollow than others. Okay, most, but yeah. Then, of course, there is the Alice aspect to it, and that is intense.

Granted, not as intense as reading, say, Karin Slaughter, but by Roberts standards it was intense and rather graphic. To read about Alice’s disappearance and the animal that had kidnapped her and broken her was rough. Just thinking about it and all that she suffered through it heartbreaking. I think that Roberts tied story in quite solidly with the story of the ranch and all really well. There wasn’t really a hitch in the story and it worked.

Okay, so then there is the romance. It is nothing special, nothing new, and Roberts, of course, played out her recipe as always. Man falls is love with strong woman, bends her to his will, decides they will be in love and get married, the woman will come around eventually. After all, strong as she is, she is still a damsel that needs saving. Yep. That’s it. Luckily this book brings more to the table than just a predictable romance. Also, my eyes were rolling at the whole bar fight and all that. I, personally, do not think it is sexy when a man wants to mission out and give another man a beatdown, and makes it this big affair. Not manly, just so stupid. Once you’ve exceeded your teens, get over that crap. So stupid.

Anyway, Come Sundown is a good read. It flows well, features a fun family and great interactions between the characters, and is interesting. It also has a dark side to it that weaves itself into the story quite well. Granted, the more modern dark side in this is a bit messy, and not unpredictable at all, but the original starting point? Really good.

Review: Nora Roberts – Divine Evil

SYNOPSIS: 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.… – via Goodreads

Ugh this book. I honestly don’t know what I expected, if we are being honest, but it wasn’t this. There was this whole Satanic aspect to it that had the potential to be so damn interesting, but instead comes across as Hollywood hysteria. So the Satanic section fell totally flat, but this is a romance, so there might have been something to salvage it, right?


This whole aspect of the book peeved me, too. So there wasn’t much to save this book. Clare and Cam fall into each other’s arms and beds within like… ten minutes of meeting each other. Within a week he is talking about her moving in and marrying her. He is super controlling, she is such a bitch to him all the time, constantly mad (read: stereotypes galore). I mean love and marriage and all that after sex a few times within days of meeting each other. Damn. The romance is unrealistic (which is to be expected), but I resent this thing of the woman not wanting a white knight but needing one, and some man needing a woman and stepping in to take over her life because she, har har, needs saving.

Moving on from the meh romance, I also didn’t like any of the characters. They are all messy caricatures of stereotypes, so they really have nothing working for them. I was a bit perturbed by the decent people (Jean Pierre and Blair, etc.) being overly invested in young high school girls/majorettes. I totally wanted to get a romance from this with an investigation into the occult, but my hopes and dreams were crushed man. It isn’t that it is a terrible book, per se, it is just such a generic, bland book and it is excessively long. It had no right to be that lengthy, and the drag in this is what changed the story from being a decent, fluffy read to being a schlep.

Anyway, Divine Evil is not the worst mystery/murder romance you could read, but it certainly leaves a lot to be desired (haha, yes, I am on a roll). Shallow, flat characters litter a tedious book that cannot decide if it wants to be useless erotica or a hardcore murder mystery, yet totally lacking the conviction to be either.

Review: The Collector – Nora Roberts

SYNOPSIS: When professional house-sitter Lila Emerson witnesses a murder/suicide from her current apartment-sitting job, life as she knows it takes a dramatic turn. Suddenly, the woman with no permanent ties finds herself almost wishing for one. . . .

Artist Ashton Archer knows his brother isn’t capable of violence—against himself or others. He recruits Lila, the only eyewitness, to help him uncover what happened. Ash longs to paint her as intensely as he hungers to touch her. But their investigation draws them into a rarified circle where priceless antiques are bought, sold, gambled away, and stolen, where what you possess is who you are, and where what you desire becomes a deadly obsession. . .  – via Goodreads

Psssssssh, let’s talk about The Collector. This is hands down one of the most forgettable books I have ever read. In my life. If you need further proof, Natasha (who has read damn near all of Nora Roberts’s work and remembers 99% of it) cannot for her life recall having read this, even though she freaking reviewed it! This has been a source of amusement for us for quite some time now.

Okay, now moving along from the best part of this book (which is having a real laugh with my bestie about how ridiculously forgettable this read is), there is nothing else to really redeem it. Seriously, it is not like you pick up a Roberts novel expecting a super thrill or to find the meaning of life, they are good for light entertainment, but this book is so lazy it is unforgivable. I promise you, the plot if beyond preposterous, the writing is just messy, let’s not forget the array of generic, bland characters crammed into the book, and ultimately a super lacklustre romance makes for a bland read. I think when I saw the title, I was thinking blood and guts and bone and gore. Probably because I read The Bone Collector shortly before this one, possibly also because I read too much icky stuff to think like an art collector :/ Judge me, whatever.

Bland, and frustrating at times. My biggest frustration is, of course, Lila, our main peanut. For one, she is grating. Really. She just irritated me, and then there is Ash, who is just as frustrating, and when they get together, it is super trying on the soul. Consent, as always, is an issue here. He snaps his fingers, she must obey. He wants, he gets. Yap, yap, yap. The men are always such control freaks in Nora Roberts’s books, and it is not sexy. It also annoys me how the women are always “strong and independent” until a man rolls up and then suddenly she is a damsel. Something that really worked on my last nerve is that Ash has a troubled relationship with his father. That is between them. Instead, when his father is being a real piece of work and Ash has calmly decided it is up to his father to be nice or piss off, that nuisance Lila speaks up and condemns Ash for his decision. People that get all involved in family drama they know nothing about and judge harshly should just shut the fuck up. What do you even really know about the situation?

Another thing that made me cringe is Lila’s constant obsession with money. She was so vocal about it, and it was awkward. Like shut up! I don’t want to read about those things, because it came across as embarrassing/preachy, instead of a fact of the character. Argh. Also a pity how much Russian history could have been worked with here and been so much more thrilling, but it wasn’t. I suppose one thing to be happy about is that this luckily is not one of Roberts’s fuck fest novels, so there is that.

The Collector is a wasted affair, and so lacklustre and empty. It feels like a filler and reads like one, too. It also really, truly won’t stay with you after the fact, and the sloppy, generic writing is an awful flaw here. At least it is a quick read…

Review: Sanctuary – Nora Roberts


SYNOPSIS: Photographer Jo Ellen Hathaway thought she’d escaped the house called Sanctuary long ago. She’d spent her lonliest years there, after the sudden, unexplained disappearance of her mother. Yet the sprawling resort off the Georgia coast continues to haunt her dreams. And now, even more haunting are the pictures someone is sending to her: strange close-ups and candids, culminating in the most shocking portrait of all–a photo of her mother…naked, beautiful, and dead. Now Jo must return to the island, and to her bitterly estranged family–and, with the help of one man, learn the truth about her tragic past. But Sanctuary may also be the most dangerous place of all… – via Goodreads

GRADE 3Okay, I am not a fan of romance fiction, though every now and then I try, especially if there is a mysterious element to it, a murder mystery, something. And it isn’t too heavy on the romance side. I try Roberts’s work once in a while because I know that it is light, fluffy, quick to read, and doesn’t need you to actually invest in it. I regret now not having asked Natasha about this one first, or for a recommendation, as I always do. I am sure she could have steered me in a much better direction. Let me preface where this is going with WOW! There is so much sex going on in this book! Like, so much. Natasha warned me that there was a lot of it going on (after I told her what I was reading), but seriously? Nookie up the wazoo! This is not something I appreciate a hell of a lot in a book. I have referred to one of her novels as a forest fuck fest before, but this one? Island Orgy! There are so many damn characters, and all of them have some form of a partner, and all of them are avoiding that partner and not wanting that partner and not interested in that partner then they are all worn down by that partner and then incessantly jumping that partner’s bones. I am serious. It was relentless, and it never ended. Plus I was not impressed with three main relationships going down. That means learning about each one of the characters (who were all so shallow and happened to be gorgeous, apparently) and then how they fit together, and then how they enjoy sex. It is unbelievable that all three siblings just so happen to find love at exactly the same time. There was an inkling of what could have actually been a pretty good story in here, but it was overshadowed by a bland story, and all the potential was pissed away when it was ultimately so flat and generic at the end. No guts, no glory. The climax was one of the most disappointing things in the world. Sanctuary also just asks you to suspend reality way too much. The characters are unlikable, and you don’t actually root for anyone. I was also not pleased with how intimately Roberts discussed the rapist and murderer at times. It was creepy – describing his attractive face, the lines, as well as how he felt while raping these women? How he climaxed and all? Way too detailed and intimate man, eeeeeew. Anyway, this is not a Roberts book that I can recommend. It races by quickly, and sadly has more potential than it eventually goes for, and could definitely have been shortened by a third at least to cut out sex and flesh out a story. Don’t waste your time, seriously.

Review: Angels Fall – Nora Roberts

angels fall cover

SYNOPSIS: Reece Gilmore has come a long way to see the stunning view below her. As the sole survivor of a brutal crime back East, she has been on the run, desperately fighting the nightmares and panic attacks that haunt her. Reece settles in Angel’s Fist, Wyoming-temporarily, at least-and takes a job at a local diner. And now she’s hiked this mountain all by herself. It was glorious, she thought, as she peered through her binoculars at the Snake River churning below.

Then Reece saw the man and woman on the opposite bank. Arguing. Fighting. And suddenly, the man was on top of the woman, his hands around her throat . . .

Enjoying a moment of solitude a bit farther down the trail is a gruff loner named Brody. But by the time Reece reaches him and brings him to the scene, the pair has vanished. When authorities comb the area where she saw the attack, they find nothing. No signs of struggle. No freshly turned earth. Not even a tire track.

And no one in Angel’s Fist seems to believe her. After all, she’s a newcomer in town, with a reputation for being jumpy and jittery-maybe even a little fragile. Maybe it’s time to run again, to move on . . .

Reece Gilmore knows there’s a killer in Angel’s Fist, even if Brody, despite his seeming impatience and desire to keep her at arm’s length, is the only one willing to believe her. When a series of menacing events makes it clear that someone wants her out of the way, Reece must put her trust in Brody-and herself-to find out if there is a killer in Angel’s Fist before it’s too late. – via Goodreads

GRADE 7Alrighty, another Roberts recommendation from Natasha, and another one that I enjoyed. I don’t know, it was more of a meandering romance than a thriller, although Roberts worked in some of those aspects. I liked Angels Fall because it wasn’t overly soppy (I just don’t even) and there were quite a few characters to enjoy, not just the main. While Reece was alright, she certainly wasn’t my favourite. I was a fan of Joanie, the woman was pretty hardcore and strong, which I liked. She reminded me of Ellen in Supernatural, and that is a huge compliment. Anyway, the villain was fairly obvious quite early on, and Roberts spent a lot of time trying to make other people look guilty, but it never really fit like the actual bad guy. The book doesn’t rush anywhere or go anywhere, really, just tells the story of this girl who moves into a new town and starts putting her life back together while falling in love with an author. She has some serious psychological issues that she needs to deal with, and I would really have liked it more if Roberts had actually spent some time fleshing out Reece’s history and what exactly happened to her, it might have made me care more about her in the present happenings as well as give a deeper understanding of her mental state. Maybe that’s just because I studied psychology. But still. The small town atmosphere was both endearing and smothering, but I liked it. The book is very long, much longer than is actually required for the scant story, so like I said, it is like reading all about this woman’s journey to falling in love and settling down and fighting for herself back, but again, I wish we knew more of the fight. The romance at least never got out of hand, but I have to say the relationship is typically one of those ridiculous ones from a movie/paperback – couple doesn’t want to fall in love, they do, they fight, they bend each other and break the other’s will, realise they cannot live without each other, yap yap. But still, I can’t put my finger on exactly why I enjoyed this one as much as I did, but it was a decent read from her, not one of her super sketchy forest fuck fests again.

Review: Carolina Moon – Nora Roberts

nora roberts carolina moon

SYNOPSIS: Tory Bodeen grew up in South Carolina, in a small run-down house, where her father ruled with an iron fist and a leather belt—and where her dreams and talents had no room to flourish. But she had Hope, who lived in the big house just a short skip away and whose friendship allowed Tory to be something she wasn’t allowed to be at home: a child.

After young Hope’s brutal murder, unsolved to this day, Tory’s life began to fall apart. And now, as she returns to her hometown, with plans to settle in and open a stylish home-design shop, she is determined to find a measure of peace and free herself from the haunting visions of the past. As she forges a new bond with Cade Lavelle—Hope’s older brother and the heir to the family fortune—she isn’t sure whether the tragic loss they share will unite them or drive them apart. But she is willing to open her heart, just a little, and try.

Living so close to those unhappy memories will be more difficult and frightening than Tory could ever have expected, however. Because Hope’s murderer is nearby as well… – via Goodreads

GRADE 7This was a recommendation from my bestie, Natasha, who is a massive Nora Roberts junkie. This novel, however, is one that I liked far more than most that I have read. There was less hanky panky crap clogging up the pages, and this actually had more of a story to tell. There were places where I felt things were not fleshed out properly, or a jump was made in the story, but other than that it flowed quite well. I liked Cade’s character eventually, though I really do have to wonder what is up with Roberts writing about these pushy males, who all pop up, fall for the girl, and refuse to accept that the girl’s not interested. It has been like this since pretty much the second book onward for me. Initially, Faith was a character I could not stand, and while she remained childish and annoying at times, she was also the character that lightened the story up quite significantly at times. To read about Tory’s childhood was very sad, there is nothing as awful as growing up in an abusive home. Ugh, it was terrible to read about it, but truly gave more weight to the story and all that happened. The villain is not a shocker at all, and the “investigation” so to speak is relatively non-existent. If you are going to read this for a serious, in depth “whodunnit”, you are going to be sorely disappointed. If you are looking for a read with a character battling her past, moving on, making things happen for herself, this would be the one. It’s like… this dramatic little soap opera on paper, and it was exactly what I needed. Not too much romance and sex to irritate me like the others (think of the forest fuck fest of the last one I read), but not absolutely nothing happening to frustrate me, either. It was something that kept me busy and entertained, and I enjoyed it. It was nice to read a novel set in the South of America again, though I cannot say that Roberts captured it as successfully as other authors, and there were some things that were said/done that even had me wondering about how accurate it was. Maybe I have been spoiled by reading so much Anne Rice, and she lives in and loves the South, and it comes through in her work. There were also too many loose ends right at the end, but I suppose you can’t have everything. Oh well. I did appreciate the darker tone that was set in this novel, it gave rise to more different characters than she usually writes about, and I liked that.

Review: Naked In Death – J.D. Robb

naked in death cover

In Death #1

SYNOPSIS: In a world of danger and deception, she walks the line–between seductive passion and scandalous murder…Eve Dallas is a New York police lieutenant hunting for a ruthless killer. In over ten years on the force, she’s seen it all–and knows her survival depends on her instincts. And she’s going against every warning telling her not to get involved with Roarke, an Irish billionaire–and a suspect in Eve’s murder investigation. But passion and seduction have rules of their own, and it’s up to Eve to take a chance in the arms of a man she knows nothing about–except the addictive hunger of needing his touch. – via Goodreads

GRADE 6Kim over at By Hook Or By Book recommended this one for me, so I decided to check this out. For anyone that is going to read this, please note that it is indeed set in the future, do not go Google this (like I did because I was disconcerted and confused as to what the hell was going on) as there are spoilers galore everywhere because this is the internets, after all. Aside from that, I was pretty excited when I started, murders and all, and I was wondering what the hell kind of cop Eve was if she had never seen a murder by gun before, but later it makes sense. Anyway, I was all happy with the bloody crimes and some cussing, things felt normal, not like a romance novel. We had crime, investigation, detectives, some politics, the whole shebang. But then the book took a turn to romance and I knew it was all pretty much going to be downhill from there. There was this totally rushed relationship with Roarke that was brought in, which makes no sense seeing as this is a series, she could have taken the time to develop characters as well as events and all. Typical Roberts style though the characters are rushed, there was a whole chapter and a bit dedicated to all types of sex, which was unnecessary (and some bordered on, well, rapey qualities). I honestly don’t mind sex scenes in books, but they do not need to take up chapters, and you don’t have to build up a relationship, then let them have sex six times in a row before getting back to the story. I also don’t understand why female cops are also called “sir”, just saying. Roarke, too, was not a character that I was taken with, not like the author intended. He was actually just a side character with a lot of money and quite a controlling tool to boot, and he felt pretty forced in, but I will see where the series goes from here. However, suffice to say so far I am not a fan of the pompous jerk, though my opinion will be in the serious minority. The whole thing being set in the future would be fine, but the writing style shows that the author isn’t sure how much to let on about the technologies and vehicles, etc. and at times this is frustrating, because it is disconcerting as it throws you suddenly into the fact that this is futuristic when she does decide to address it, and even then it is just glanced over (hence I Googled when I started reading, I wasn’t sure if I had missed something or if I was just plain down slow). Some of the technology seems outdated, too, but oh well. I suppose writing this in 1996 left so much open to technology. Naked In Death is not badly written, but it is not nearly as engrossing as I would have hoped for, and the characters are rather flat, and the crime and investigation doesn’t follow as smoothly as I would like (but then, I read far more of that usually, so this is a decent start I suppose), and once again, it was rather obvious rather early who was involved in the crime. I know it looks like I have an inordinate amount of complaints, but it does not mean that I hated the book, just that J.D. Robb, aka Nora Roberts, writes very much the same all the time, which can be a little wearing. While this is a little different from her work under her own name, it is not that different that you wouldn’t know it was her own work. I just get the hype, truly!

Review: River’s End – Nora Roberts

river's end

SYNOPSIS: Olivia’s parents were among Hollywood’s golden couples…until the night a monster came and took her mother away forever. A monster with the face of her father…

Sheltered from the truth, an older Olivia only dimly recalls her night of terror—but her recurring nightmares make her realize she must piece together the real story. Assisted by Noah Brady, the son of the police detective who found her cowering in her closet so many years before, she may have her chance. Noah wants to reconstruct the night that has become an infamous part of Hollywood history. He also wants to help Olivia and heal the longing in her lonely heart. But once the door to her past is opened, there’s no telling what’s waiting on the other side. For somewhere, not too far away, the monster walks again… – via Goodreads

GRADE 7So this was a recommendation from my bestie, Natasha, and it is one of her favourite novels from Nora Roberts. You can check out her review here. Anyway, the story started (again) as something I like more that sappy romance – we had a brutal murder, a child witnessing it, a cop that rescues said little girl and a family that is shattered and desperate to protect Olivia, the kid, and move on from the horrible tragedy. It is evident pretty much right after the murder that the cop’s son, Noah, would end up with Olivia, which was pretty freaky seeing as she was only four at the time. It was made even more awkward when she sees the Brady family again at twelve and has a crush on Noah, which would be fine, but you can see where Roberts is going to take the story between them from the beginning, which makes all the really young encounters between Noah and Olivia a little nasty for me. They were kids man. An interesting concept, having Noah be a true crime writer and having the MacBride murder stuck in his craw for years, and no surprise that he would want to write about it. I actually even appreciated how they kept the brutal murder present even after all the time had lapsed. Anyway, everything was moving along just fine, the first two thirds of the book I enjoyed, even with the incessant mentioning of sex and thinking about it. However, the final third fell into shambles. There were pages upon pages of sex, and I think of this stupid and pointless outing into the forest as the forest fuck fest session, as it served no further purpose than to push through inordinate amounts of sex. Not only that, when they were not unrealistically banging each other all over the show, they were having the same damn argument they have been having the entire book. It was old when it started already, dammit! I think the thing that really brought this book down for me (besides all the ridiculously misplaced and totally unromantic and uncalled for sex that they were constantly having) was that final third. It was rushed, sex-filled, with no character development. Natasha said that the villain surprised her, and she is usually pretty fast with these. However, I called the villain really early. I think it is because I read more crime thrillers than I do romance novels, so I might be more in tune with that. The story didn’t bring anything new to the table, we have seen it done before. Also, it isn’t like Roberts went out of her way to hide the villain or anything. Granted, she tried a few times to mislead you, but they came off as such half-hearted attempts that you just knew she was trying to throw you off track. I also didn’t really like Olivia as a leading character at all, which probably didn’t help the book in places. I didn’t actually care what happened to her, she just frustrated the hell out of me. However, aside from the final third, this is definitely one of her better ones, and I can see why Natasha is such a fan of this one. If you don’t mind pages filled with unrealistic sex for a portion of the book, then this is a book I would recommend you read – if you like romance with a little more story to it than a simple Mills and Boon read.

Review: Blue Smoke – Nora Roberts

nora roberts blue smoke cover

SYNOPSIS: Reena Hale at 12 is almost raped, her family restaurant burnt to the ground. In university, her boyfriend burns in his apartment. She becomes an arson investigator, haunted by obscene phone calls and horrific crimes. On the good side is Bo Goodnight, who sought Reena for years, and will not let her go. – via Goodreads

GRADE 7Obviously this was a recommendation from Natasha, it would have to be 😉 Well, I must say that after the last few books from Roberts, I was a little sketch about reading anything else. Natasha insisted that I would likely enjoy this one, and that there was a bit more of a villain here. Seeing as Roberts novels are rather quick reads, I indulged. Something I learned here about the writer (the more that I read her work) is that she writes very well about big, Italian families that are all super involved with one another. It just comes across as more genuine than when she tries to write about single characters and small/non-existent family units. So on that alone I enjoyed this far more than any of the other ones I have read from her lately. Blue Smoke, while having its predictable moments, was not a bad read, and kept me entertained throughout. The villain is pretty obvious, and is typical with most books, the final confrontation was a bit of a cop out. Everything leading up to that was interesting though, which seems to be a flaw with most writers. Build up a story and a villain and get us invested and then fumble because they have no idea what to do now that the expectations are weighing up. Oh well. It just felt like the whole villain thing was a little convoluted and could definitely have been worked on a little more. I liked the fire aspect, and Reena was a much better female lead than most books can boast about – she is strong, on her own, dedicated, comfortable with herself and doesn’t need a man to define her. The relationship between her and Bo later on was something I expected a bit more from, and I thought things were a little hurried and unromantic there at times because of the setup we were presented with right in the beginning, but it doesn’t detract. I liked that, while the romance came in later and was important, this book didn’t feel fixated on banging each other and expressing undying love. It was centred strongly on the family, Reena’s career, the family restaurant and the ties between people. Time progressed nicely, and you never lingered anywhere longer than you had to. The characters were decent, too. Not too many got focused on too closely aside from Reena and Bo, but the supporting characters were entertaining and funny, serious, sweet, whatever they were required to be at the time. I was surprised by how graphic Roberts got about some things nearing the end – not because I mind graphic (I read far worse on average), but because this was so unlike anything I had ever read by her. There was more meat to this. Not a bad read, if you don’t mind some romance laced in between a light and simple suspense story.