Book Review – The Liar

Title: The Liar

Author: Nora Roberts

Format: Hardback

Year Published: 2015

Yes, yet another Nora Roberts novel! (They’re a guilty pleasure, what can I say?)

So, The Liar is the newest offering from Roberts, which explains why it took me a month to get it in from the library. Shelby has been recently widowed and has discovered that her husband isn’t at all who she thought he was. She retreats home to Tennessee, taking her daughter to her family, and settles in, trying to overcome the debt her husband has left her in and ignoring all the mysteries of his past, all the while slowly falling in love with a new man.

Unfortunately, her husband’s past isn’t done with her. Starting with a PI who follows her from Philadelphia to Tennessee, more trouble follows as one of her husband’s ‘associates’ tells her what he was really involved, and then ends up dead. Slowly, the tangled web of lies that her husband built start to fall, and Shelby learns the truth.

So the big plot twist of the story (revealed in the last thirty pages), I called by the end of the first chapter. Some of this may be because I’ve read/watched a lot of detective stories, but this one felt *so* obvious I couldn’t believe that it never even came up as a possibly with the characters. So that felt a little less true-to-life.

I liked Shelby, and I liked Griff (her new love interest) but Roberts has started making her heroes a bit *too* perfect (I know – what else can I expect in a romance novel). Griff is always perfect – he knows when to push and when to step back; he knows how to win over not only Shelby but her daughter, and it all adds up to a rather boring specimen, to be honest.

As usual, Roberts’ skill with interesting characters is showcased in the side-characters – with Shelby’s best friend and her new beau; with Shelby’s mother and grandmother; with the girl who’s hated Shelby since they were girls and her actions once Shelby returns home.

Nothing spectacular, but nothing horrible either. 3/5 stars.

Book Review – The Witness

I wouldn’t classify this as one of Roberts’ best books, but it held my attention once the main part started, and I might want to reread it as some point in the future. A solid 3/5 stars.

Book Review – Blood Magick

Title: Blood Magick

Author: Nora Roberts

Format: Trade Paperback

Year Published: 2014

And so the Cousins O’Dwyer saga draws to a close (unless Roberts decides to play in this world again, which doesn’t happen as often anymore but isn’t out of the realm of possibility). The book begins a month or so after the end of Shadow Spell, where our heroes almost succeeded in defeating Cabhan but only succeeded in weakening him.

Blood Magick follows Branna and Fin as they struggle with the love that they feel for each other, and the knowledge that they can never be together because of Fin’s blood connection to Cabhan. This is an unusual take for the typical Nora Roberts trilogy (this is way I was reading these books – comparing them to her other trilogies, so sorry if the constant comparisons annoy you.) In some ways, we get the hardest part of their struggles in Dark Witch and Shadow Spell – where they’re not ready to admit to themselves, much less each other, that they’re still in love. Blood Magick has less of the “I love you but I’m pretending that I don’t” angst and more “I love you, but we can’t ever be together” type of angst.

Blood Magick continues the theme of having the past connect to the present in a very direct way, and the more I read of the original three Dark Witches, the more I wanted to read about them (in some ways I think because I didn’t already know the bare bones of how their story was going to go).

The defeat (spoiler alert!) of Cabhan felt kind of – random. Wait, now he’s allied himself with a demon? There were no hints of that in previous books! I understand that it wasn’t put in before because otherwise the characters would have had a better chance of defeating him, but it still came out of left field.

I liked how the “Fin is related to Cabhan” storyline resolved (I won’t spoil that one), and I am rather impressed that none of the three female characters were pregnant by the end (although both of the female original three were at one point, so maybe that counter-balances it). Still, as I powered through this in an evening, I’m giving it a 3/5.

Book Review – Shadow Spell

Title: Shadow Spell

Author: Nora Roberts

Format: Trade Paperback

Year Published: 2014

So I have to eat my words – this series isn’t exactly like the usual Nora Roberts trilogy save for the basics. I set up the arc last week – ancient evil, three with powers who are destined to end him – and so this story picks up with Connor, the second of the three Dark Witches, several weeks after the events of Dark Witch. Cabhan (their nemesis) has been weakened but not defeated, and the circle must try again.

One of the things I’m enjoying most about this series is that Roberts has tried a different career for her protagonists (it’s usually a safe bet that it will involve horses – which Dark Witch did – or somebody owns a shop or a business of their own, or they’re a writer/firefighter/something else that doesn’t really involve being in an office day in/out). In this case, Connor is a falconer. Granted, he runs a little business, so it’s not too great of a deviation, but it is nice.

Another change is that while typically in a trilogy like this, we get the occasional glimpse of what originally set it into motion, but this series is actually allowing the present and the past to connect in a much more direct way. If not done correctly, this could be cringe-worthy, but in this case, it’s done perfectly.

On the romance end – this is a romance novel, after all – I enjoyed Connor and Meara’s connection. The way that it kind of comes out of nowhere – usually we get a hint that there’s something there in the first novel – threw me just a bit, but I enjoyed watching as they connected and overcame the objections their pasts threw up.

All in all, I’m giving this one a solid 3/5.

Book Review – Dark Witch

Title: Dark Witch

Author: Nora Roberts

Format: Trade paperback

Year Published: 2013

I enjoy romances. The happily-ever-after, the sure-fire knowledge that my heart is not going to be yanked from y chest and stomped on… (and then sometimes I’m WRONG, book-that-I-have-blocked-the-title-from-my-mind-but-am-still-mad-at).

When I was heavy in my romance-reading ways, I devoured Nora Roberts’ books. (Unlike what I first tried to type, I did not devour Nora Roberts.) Going back to them, however, the books are very heavily formulaic. I do enjoy reading them, still – they’re totally brain candy – however, I’ve found that once I’ve read them, I very rarely want to reread them. (And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why the library is my friend.)

This book was the first in a classic Nora Roberts trilogy – girl, who has never really fit in where she was, arrives at a new place and immediately feels like she’s at home. There she meets her cousins – usually a brother/sister combo, but occasionally they’re also cousins to each other), and immediately connects to them. She also meets and falls for a friend of the male cousin. In addition, the female cousin will have a close female friend that will eventually end up linked to the male cousin, and there will be another friend of the male cousin that she once had a torrid affair with that ended badly. There’s some sort of supernatural problem that requires all six involved to resolve. Occasionally one of the women will be a mother, but the father will either be dead or uninterested and the male interested int eh mother will eventually adopt the child/ren as his own.

So obviously I knew what I was getting into with this series. Here’s the specifics: Iona is coming from America, and already knows and can use her magic in small ways (this was a welcome change from other series, as the woman moving into town usually had no idea she was magical). She also knows the story of the Dark Witch, her ancestor, who gave her life and passed her powers on to her three children. (As a side note, the names of the children threw me. They were far too contemporary for 1263.) Iona arrives in Ireland (another big theme) and meets her cousins, Branna and Connor. They immediately make a connection and then the trouble starts – the dark force that their ancestor gave her life to defeat is back, and they’re the three that must stop him.

I enjoyed as Iona learned to control her powers, and I liked that she wasn’t the typical ‘fish-out-pond’ heroine that appears in these trilogies. She’s new to the land, yes, and somewhat new to her power, but she owns in. (I also really enjoyed that when she got nervous she babbled, as that made her seem less like a typical romance heroine and more like an actual human.)

The big fight of the book felt a little bleh. You knew going in that they weren’t going to win (how could this be a trilogy if they did, after all?) but it was missing something.

Still looking forward to the next two (waiting on my couch now), so I’ll give this a 2.5/5 – not going to win any awards, not going to wow anybody, but perfect for when you want to shut your mind off.

%d bloggers like this: