Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “Nora Roberts”

faintingviolet’s #CBR4 review #50 The Witness by Nora Roberts

Last Nora Roberts of CBR4! Well, for me J

Before the gargantuan task of the Cannonball had been set before me (by me, for a fantastic cause) I had stayed away from romance novels, and specifically Nora Roberts books for several years. My graduate program simply ate all the time I had, and a smaller part of me was ashamed at the sheer amount of romance novels I consumed to that point in my life. So, I took a break. Then I realized that if I was going to attempt a real go at this thing I needed books that I could sail through in a matter of hours to help offset the books which would take weeks to read. And also the weeks which would not permit much free time to read at all. This is when I fell back into love with Nora Roberts.

The Witness is perhaps a return to Roberts at her best. Earlier this year I reviewed The Search which along with Black Hills shows Roberts not at her thriller best.  The Search and Black Hills each had their strong aspects and their weak moments, but The Witness is strong throughout. The Witness is the story of Elizabeth, a teenage genius who acts out against her controlling mother and finds herself caught in the middle of a mob execution. The book is broken up into four sections, each chronicling a different segment of Elizabeth’s life and named for a different person. The first section introduces the reader to the 16-year-old Elizabeth as she experiences that fateful night and the subsequent weeks in protective custody. Later sections delve into her life on the run, her current identity, the local sheriff determined to learn all about her, and her eventual plan to put things right.

I’ve intentionally left much of the detail out of this review, purely for laziness’ sake. I will mention that Roberts’ excellent job outlining her locations, from Chicago’s tony neighborhoods to Arkansas’ Ozark Mountains. This one also features a male protagonist straight from Roberts’ own central casting – Brooks Gleason, police chief in a small town after time in a big city police force, quirky parents, and two older sisters, one of whom is married with kids and they all live nearby. A truly fun read, possibly less for its thriller concepts and more so for intricate storytelling.

faintingviolet’s #CBR4 review #39: The Last Boyfriend by Nora Roberts

Romance novels have the reputation of being formulaic. This is not without reason, given that many romance novel writers’ churn out several books a year. It follows that the writers often develop a short hand with their readers which in turn can lead to a formula. Romance novels tend to unfold in a set way.  The reader meets the couple, it is made obvious to the reader that they are meant to be. This is achieved by either has a mutual conflict to overcome or individual conflicts which keep them from being together. The conflicts are resolved and then the couple decides they are meant to be together and make it official. End novel.


When I pick up any romance novel, but particularly a Nora Roberts novel, I am ready for just this formula. The fun in reading these types of works for me lies in the details. Give me a good setting, fun supporting characters, and interesting personalities for the leads and I am happy to give you a few hours of my time. However, this time reading The Last Boyfriend the second book in the Inn Boonsboro trilogy, I was left strangely disappointed. Owen Montgomery is the middle brother and office manager without an actual office for the family construction company. He is organized to a fault and likes it that way. Avery McTavish is the owner of the pizzeria across from the Inn and has her sights on another restaurant across the intersection. Avery and Owen have been in and out of each other’s lives for decades, but the tenor of their relationship is about to change.


This is all as to be expected, but when it was time to introduce the main conflict for these characters to overcome it felt lacking. Avery has serious issues regarding her mother who ran out on her and her father many years before and makes an appearance(late in the novel) to disrupt what Avery has been building with Owen. Their main conflict is a lack of communication. While this plot line is true to life, it doesn’t make for very interesting reading.  Also, the unspooling of the ghost storyline, featuring Lizzie, is also underwhelming.  I am however hopeful for the final piece of the trio because we get more inherently interesting leads: Owen’s older brother Ryder and Innkeeper Hope Beaumont.

faintingviolet’s #CBR4 review #33: Black Hills by Nora Roberts

I was prepared to give Black Hills a relatively glowing review as I was working my way through the 472 page book. And then I came to the last few chapters and I had some big problems with the handling of the narrative. So here I am, questioning things which I had previously been quite happy with. But let’s start at the beginning.

Nora Robert’s Black Hills is the story of Cooper Sullivan and Lillian Chance. The book begins when they are 11 and 9 years of age respectively. Lil is a native of the titular Black Hills and Coop has been sent to his grandparents’ South Dakota ranch by his battling parents for the summer. Over time Coop and Lil form a deep and lasting friendship. As chapters progress we jump ahead with the characters as they grow up and Coop returns to the Black Hills from his turbulent home in New York for summer vacations.

Relationships change as Lil gets ready to head off to college. She knows she wants two things for sure for her future –  a wildlife refuge on her family’s land, and Coop. The conflict is Coop knows that he cannot stay with Lil as their relationship progresses because he feels he will hold her back from her goals and that he must make his own way. Fast forward 12 years and our leads have a new set of problems to deal with including, once again, each other.

This is all pretty standard fare, especially for a Roberts novel. I began to have some unease with the story at the introduction of the big bad. Roberts has a set way of introducing the type of big bad which appears in this novel as well as  The Search, and Montana Sky. The reader is given a chance to see the world through the point of view of the big bad before the  protagonists are introduced to or made aware of him. Then their nefarious deeds and plans are told to the reader through the big bad’s own first person planning. Other than the familiarity of the type of big bad (someone out to hunt our female protagonist) I had no real problems. Until it was time to resolve the conflicts.

There are two major conflicts in the book: first, the standard ‘will they or won’t they?’ and the second ‘will the big bad be able to enact his plan?’ The novel is well paced-  the reader has time to invest in who Lil and Coop were as children, how their relationship evolved, her parents, his grandparents, their friends, the preserve, and the looming danger. And then it seems Roberts looked down and realized she had written over 400 pages and hadn’t resolved either major conflict. There is a major sea change  at page 427 and then it’s a downhill run to the conclusion some 45 pages later.

This reader was left wanting for more, since so many storylines had been given a quick, glossed over ending as the protagonists dealt with the big bad.  As for the conclusion, the big bad is dispatched and two pages later the book is over. Roberts doesn’t tend to write epilogues for her novels, but it isn’t unheard of. This one was in definite need of an epilogue that firmly wrapped up some storylines after the final conflict resolution to give at least this reader a sense of completion. Am I saying don’t read it? No, but I am saying that you should know what you’re getting in to with this one.

This review is cross-posted

DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Review #55 High Noon by Nora Roberts

Romance is the last thing that Police Lieutenant  and Hostage Negotiator Phoebe MacNamara has on her mind when she talks a man off a rooftop one Saint Patrick’s Day, but the man’s former boss, Duncan Swift soon holds a bigger place in her life than she is willing to admit.  Will he understand the unique demands of her career and complicated family life  or is she more haunted by the events of her own past that she is willing to admit?

Revealing anything more than a teaser about the complex plot of High Noon would deny another reader the fun summer escape this novel provided for me.  As usual, Roberts’ captivating characters are what make the book so enjoyable.  This story leaned slightly more towards the suspense and violence that she became so famous for as J.D.Robb, but it was a fun, quick read with a likable ending. This was not as memorable as some of her other books or series, but when I saw it on the shelf at the library, it quickly found its way into my summer reading pile.  It made a nice interruption to the seesaw of Dark-Hunter and Darkover novels.  One of the things that I enjoy most about my favourite authors is that they seldom fail to deliver the entertainment, diversion and enjoyment I am expecting. I’m not sure how I missed reading High Noon before now, but I am glad it was part of my Cannonball IV challenge!

Hardcover format, 467 pages, published in 2007 by DAW Books.

rdoak03’s #CBR4 Review #22: The Witness by Nora Roberts

Even if you’re not a true Nora Roberts fan, such as me, there is a lot to like about The Witness. More thriller than romance, the book is filled with rich characters, a great little community, believable
family dynamics, and some heart-pounding moments.

Read more here!

faintingviolet’s #CBR4 review #25 The Next Always by Nora Roberts

I thought that I had read enough Nora Roberts for awhile and could move on to other things. Like laundry, doing my actual job, and a foray into capital ‘L’ literature. I was wrong, but I’m not sorry.

Nora Robert’s The Next Always is book one in the Inn Boonsboro Trilogy (really, who can avoid a trilogy?) and chronicles both the romantic life of Beckett Montgomery. Beckett is one of three brothers who together are Montgomery Family Contractors. They, along with their mom, have undertaken the rehab of the town’s historic hotel and we start with Beckett, because he’s the architect. The story chronicles the finishing of the remodel of what sounds like a pretty fantastic B&B as well as Beckett’s burgeoning relationship with Clare.

Clare is a young widow who has moved back home with her three sons. She is the independent sort, has her own home and her own business, a Bookstore, just down the road from the Montgomery’s Inn.  Clare married her high school sweetheart and lived the life of a military wife, but Beckett has been holding a candle for her since he was 16.

The courtship outlined in this book is by no means easy. There are Clare’s three kids, crazy schedules, the remodel, everyone’s families, a stalker, hiring an innkeeper, grief and a ghost. But it’s a fun and quick summer read. I’ll be tackling The Last Boyfriend later this summer and will be waiting patiently (ha!) for The Perfect Hope to round out the trilogy in November.

As always, this review is cross-posted.

faintingviolet’s #CBR4 review #22: Nora Roberts’ The Search

The Search

So I’m back to Nora Roberts. She’s my weakness, like ice cream and caramel. But I’ve decided to pursue the full cannonball since I’m doing pretty well on the half-cannonball. And Roberts books help keep the pace.

The Search is the story of Fiona Bristow. Fiona lives on Orcas Island off the coast of Washington state and runs a dog training facility from her home. She has a quiet life filled with her three dogs, her stepmother, friends, and her Search and Rescue group. All in all things are looking pretty good, but there isn’t a man in her life and she’d like for there to be.

Enter Simon Doyle, a reasonably well known wood artist who has just relocated to Orcas from Seattle following the dissolution of a relationship which was covered in the gossip papers. Simon is also the owner of a brand new puppy who he has aptly named Jaws. This leads to the meet cute between Fiona and Simon, when he brings Jaws in for puppy training class. The relationship starts as friendship with a little bit of heat and then grows into a no strings attached but physical relationship.

Well, until Fiona’s past rears its ugly head. Nine years ago Fiona was the sole survivor of the Red Scarf Killer, who as retribution kills Fiona’s fiancé and his search and rescue dog. This murder and Fiona’s testimony put the original killer in jail, now there is a new killer who is copycatting and has made threats against Fiona. This ups the stakes in all aspects of Fiona’s relationships.

This was a good thriller, which Roberts has shown considerable skill at. A good summer read.

This review is cross-posted


KatSings’ #CBR4 Review #20 – The Last Boyfriend by Nora Roberts

The Last Boyfriend by Nora Roberts

A solid entry into this trilogy.  And Avery is my favorite.  Also, I totally plan to go stay at Inn Boonsboro.

KatSings’ #CBR4 Review #17-19 – The Key Trilogy by Nora Roberts

The Key Trilogy by Nora Roberts


Another great series from Roberts!  And there’s only one more Nora Roberts review planned at present (her new book came out while I was reading this series).  After that, you’ll get some new material as I move away from her stuff for a bit!

faintingviolet’s #CBR4 review #17: Nora Roberts’ Happy Ever After

I know I covered my hate of the title of the books in this Nora Roberts series while reviewing Savor the Moment but come on – I’m pretty sure this one isn’t even grammatically correct. Shouldn’t it be Happily Ever After? And it’s uttered by a Yale educated character in the book! Admittedly while joking about what she’d get as a tattoo, but still. Not okay.

Book four of Nora Roberts’ Bride Quartet, Happy Ever After, focuses on no-nonsense Parker. Parker is the younger daughter of the Browns, sister of Delaney who is newly engaged, and she is the coordinator of the Vows wedding business which she shares with her three best friends from childhood. Business couldn’t be better; she’s landing bookings left, right and center, including a major society bash for the following spring. Everything is looking good as she heads into the autumn. Except for her personal life.

As an author Roberts’ is great at sneaking in future protagonists as secondary characters in early books in her various series. In this case that would be one Malcolm Kavanaugh who appears quietly in Vision in White when Mac acts out against her mom, again in Bed of Roses at Emma’s parent’s Cinco de Mayo party, and then even more during Savor the Moment culminating in the characters being away at the beach house.  Each time Malcolm shows up we get to see more and more of his personality and his friendships with the males associated with the Quartet. By the beginning of Happy Ever After the reader is almost as equally invested in Malcolm as they are in Parker.

I like the character of Malcolm, or Mal, quite a bit. While Parker is your typical type-A driven entrepreneur who puts her business before most other things Mal has taken a slightly different route to be a small business owner and is much more relaxed in the running of both his business and his life. Mal owns an auto repair shop and rebuilds classics as a sideline. He earned the money to purchase this business, as well as a home for his mother, by being in an accident while working as a stuntman in Hollywood caused by the cost-cutting of others. I appreciate that Roberts’ doesn’t just assume that her characters have the requisite wealth to accomplish her authorial whims, but instead puts together plausible explanations of income. Laurel worked in a restaurant kitchen before and during the early years of Vows; Emma worked in a florist shop, etc.

Another aspect of this story I appreciate is how Mal is perfectly comfortable with Parker’s businesswoman side. He is attracted to that part of her as he is to everything else and never judges or blames as she is working to pursue her dream – even when that means taking 5 am phone calls from nervous brides while he is trying to sleep. That is never the problem in their relationship. Trusting emotional intimacy is the problem. A relatable one at that.

So yep, go ahead and read this set of stories; I quite liked them – this one and Bed of Roses in particular.

This review is cross-posted

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