Thursday, January 5, 2012

CBR IV Review #1 - The Next Always by Nora Roberts

“You're the woman in my life," he said. "Another thing about me and my brothers? We look after the women in our lives. We don't know any other way.” 

Yes, I'm kicking off the new Cannon with yet another Nora Roberts book.  I can't help it - the woman writes such delicious fluff!  This is the first book in her new series, The Inn Boonsboro Trilogy.  Interesting trivia for you at the end of this review!
Y'know how moments ago I said Nora writes delicious fluff?  It's true.  But I'm not sure it fully applies to this book.  Tense and unsettling are words I almost never apply to Roberts' work, even when she's writing romantic thrillers like Carnal Innocence (oh yes, I not only read that, I watched the horrible Lifetime movie).  However, this book really got to me.  I'm not sure if it's just that I didn't realize I had a button there to push, or it was just really well written, or some combination.  But this is the first time in a long time I had violent, horrible nightmares from a book - more particularly, ones where I lose.  I never lose in my dreams, and yet I lost in these.  Anyway.  I digress.

This first book sets up a little town called Boonsboro in North Carolina, home to the Montgomery brothers and a cast of lovely local characters.  The Montgomery brothers, Beckett, Owen and Ryder, own an architectural and construction company.  Their project at the opening is rebuilding the historic Inn in the town, which boasts its own very interesting ghost.  The three brothers are different enough to tell apart, and their love interests are pretty apparent from the start, as is typical in a Roberts' series.  This book focuses on architect brother Beckett and his decades old crush on Clare Brewster, mother of three and widow of a soldier.  Clare runs the bookstore across the street from the Inn and lives alone with her three boys, who are absolutely adorable, especially in their bonding scenes with Beckett.

In addition to the predictable hurdles of dating a woman who is a widow with three children, there is a huge obstacle in the form of a local creeper, who I won't say too much about in case you are as naive as Clare and simply don't see what's going on from the beginning.  I will tell you that I knew right off the bat exactly what was wrong with this guy and his part of this story is what haunted me.  ::shivers:: Not ok.  

I promised you trivia, and I'm going to deliver.  This series is based on an actual location, and all the businesses in it, including the titular Inn are real.  Better yet, the Inn itself is owned by the author, Nora Roberts.  I had gone through the book admiring the research it must have taken to get all these details of construction correct, but knowing this was something she actually built changed that dynamic instantly.  Also?  It is immensely cool to go to the website and see that the images in my head are real and fully realized.  I'm dying to go stay down there in one of those beautiful theme rooms.

Overall?  Very good read, and one that I couldn't put down near the end.  I look forward to seeing the inevitable Avery/Owen and Hope/Ryder romances play out over the next two books!

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