April 2016

 

The Queen of Romance!

NR6I’ve read Nora Roberts for many years, as have most romance fans, I suspect. The first book of hers that got me really excited was the wonderful Jewels of the Sun, the first in the Gallaghers of Ardmore trilogy. This is a really beautiful story about a woman discovering her true home in the world – and it’s the last place she ever expected. Well worth reading if you haven’t picked it up already.

Then I absolutely fell in love with her Chesapeake Bay trilogy which has since become a quartet (lovely to have all the loose ends tied up with that fourth book). These are the sort of books that convert people to reading romance. They’re set around a family of four adopted brothers (no blood relationship but plenty of love) and their fledgling boat-building business. As so often with Nora, there’s a lot of intrigue, some wonderful romance with strong, vital women, and a touch of the woo-woos (occasional ghostly goings on!). Seriously if you’ve missed out on these magnificent books, give them a go. And please read them in order: Sea Swept, Rising Tides, Inner Harbor, and Chesapeake Blue.

For some reason, over the last 18 months or so, I just can’t get enough of her books. Odd how a particular writer chimes with a particular time in our lives, isn’t it? The books haven’t changed – clearly I have! Because I’ve been devouring Nora’s stories like they’re going out of style. And thankfully, that’s not going to happen any time soon!

NR4So I thought today I’d share a few favorites, either to remind you of lovely reading experiences, or to suggest great books you may have missed along the way.

Nora is very prolific – seriously, I’m in awe, not just of the volume she turns out but the high standard she maintains across all this productivity – but she tends to work in specific patterns. She writes trilogies, usually with some paranormal element from ghosts through to witches through to magical threats to the existence of the world. She does trilogies of contemporary romance which sometimes have a slight woo-woo element (see the Gallaghers), and she does long stand-alone romantic suspense.

So far, my stand-out favorites are the romantic suspense stories, much as I love the others. Two that have stayed in my mind for a long time are The Witness and Northern Lights. Both of these feature loner/fish out of water central characters who find love and belonging in small communities and in the process vanquish a looming evil. In The Witness (so far, I think my favorite NR of all), Abigail Lowery as a teenager witnesses a Russian mafia murder and goes on the run. Only her resourcefulness and courage and her willingness to up sticks and scarper when things become dangerous have kept her alive into her late twenties. But what happens when she sets up what’s supposed to be a new temporary home in a small Arkansas town and she falls in love with the local chief of police, Brooks Gleeson. Is it time to take a stand at last and reclaim a real life? You betcha!

NR3In Northern Lights, the lone wolf is the hero, Nate Burke, a burnt out Chicago cop who takes the job as police chief in Lunacy, Alaska.This is his last chance to make something of his life and he knows it. Gradually Nate becomes part of this fascinating community and falls in love not just with the beautiful scenery but with independent spirit and local pilot Meg Galloway. Something Nora does really skillfully in this is show how the shift from winter to summer mirrors the change in Nate’s life and attitude. But murder stalks this isolated outpost of civilization and soon Nate and everything he loves are under threat. My favorite part of this story is the community – the people who live in Lunacy will steal your heart!

If you’re looking for other great stand-alones by NR, try The Search, Angels Fall and Whiskey Beach. All wonderful reads.

In my glom of Nora Roberts, I’ve read lots of her older Harlequin romances which are great fun – and it’s lovely to see her voice develop over the time. And I’ve also picked up a lot of her trilogies. Favorites include:

NR2Born in Ice, Born in Ice, Born in Shame

Jewels of the Sun, Tears of the Moon, Heart of the Sea

Blue Dahlia, Black Rose, Red Lily

Taming Natasha, Luring a Lady, Falling for Rachel, Convincing Alex, Waiting for Nick, Considering Kate

I’m looking forward to reading, in the next couple of months, Birthright, The Collector and her new Guardians trilogy.

NR5Why do I love these books so much right now? I think partly because they’re just fabulous storytelling. But I also think it’s because I’m going through a few changes and so many of her stories are about women at turning points who cast themselves on the mercy of fate – and fate always rewards their courage. That’s a nice message, no matter how things turn out in my own life!

She also writes wonderfully strong women who fall deeply in love with the hero, but who would manage without him if they had to. I love that these women are capable of getting themselves out of their difficulties, although it’s more efficient and more fun when there’s a soulmate along for the trip. I also love the men in her stories – they’re utterly believable as real males. You know these guys have to shave! I also love that the relationships are generally mature – people own up to what they do wrong and ask for what they want. And they’re willing to put themselves on the line for the other person, no questions asked. Oh, and I love the way she does setting. I always have itchy feet after I read a great Nora Roberts!

I could go on and on, but I have a Nora Roberts calling me so farewell, I’m off to lose myself in her wonderful world. If you don’t know that world already, it’s definitely worth exploring. If you do know it, I’m sure I’m speaking to the converted! Thank you, Nora, for hours of reading pleasure. And the beauty is with your wonderful backlist, I have hours more ahead of me!