The Obsession is a stand alone novel by the very prolific Nora Roberts, first published in 2016.
Naomi Bowes’ life changed irrevocably when, at almost twelve years old, she found out the truth about her father. It was hot that summer and Naomi woke in the sticky heat of the night. As she knelt with her arms resting on the window sill out, gazing into the dark, she saw her father heading off into the woods. Wondering if he was going to the creek to cool off, Naomi decided to follow him. He wasn’t going to the creek and when he disappeared into an old root cellar Naomi thought maybe he hidden her birthday present down there. But she discovers something no-one, and especially not a child should have to witness.
No moon now, and all sense of adventure had dropped into a terrible dread. But her eyes had adjusted enough for her to pick her way back to the leaf covered door. She saw it only because she knew it was there.
She could hear her own breath now, wisping away on the swirl of wind. Cool air, but now she wanted warm. Her bones felt cold, like winter cold, and her hand shook as she bent down to brush the thick layers of leaves away.
As the aftermath of Naomi’s discovery played out, she and her brother, Mason, changed their names to Carson, her mother’s maiden name and went to live with their uncle Seth and his partner, Harry. I loved these two. Naomi could never fully come to terms with her father’s notoriety, which resulted in her moving from place to place, trying to outrun the nightmares and legacy he left. She has a successful photography career and an online business but finds it almost impossible to let her guard down with people. Until she sees the house on the bluff above Sunrise Cove, serene, calm and desperate for some TLC, acquires a sorry looking stray dog and is drawn into to small town life even more when she meets Xander. Sparks fly despite her attempts to keep her distance. Maybe this is what she’s been looking for. Perhaps she can have a ‘normal’ life.
What a very atmospheric and chilling opening to this story, which is loosely divided into three parts. I thought the way young Naomi coped with her life was written realistically and it was interesting to see how the siblings went in opposite directions. Naomi running from her past, never feeling comfortable enough to put down roots, and Mason’s plan to learn as much as he could about serial killers with a view to joining the FBI.
When Naomi sees the house on the bluff during her travels, her life changes yet again. She decides to buy regardless of the work which would be involved to make it habitable and eventually begins to accept the offers of friendship. Relationships are something Nora Roberts always depicts extremely well. It’s very refreshing too, when women have conversations about things other than men. And there’s quite a bit dealing with house renovations and the intricacies of photography which I found interesting. The amount of research never fails to impress. I loved the descriptions of the town and its people, the surrounding area, the sunrises, sunsets and the forest.
In the third section of the book, the reader gets a chilling sense of the killer’s thought process. It wasn’t hard to guess the identity, and that doesn’t happen often for me but nevertheless, I enjoyed the read very much. I always know what to expect with a Nora Roberts standalone, the standard of the writing and engaging characters rarely disappoint.
About the Book
Naomi Bowes lost her innocence the night she followed her father into the woods. In freeing the girl trapped in the root cellar, Naomi revealed the horrible extent of her father’s crimes and made him infamous. No matter how close she gets to happiness, she can’t outrun the sins of Thomas David Bowes.
Now a successful photographer living under the name Naomi Carson, she has found a place that calls to her, a rambling old house in need of repair, thousands of miles away from everything she’s ever known. Naomi wants to embrace the solitude, but the kindly residents of Sunrise Cove keep forcing her to open up—especially the determined Xander Keaton.
Naomi can feel her defenses failing, and knows that the connection her new life offers is something she’s always secretly craved. But the sins of her father can become an obsession, and, as she’s learned time and again, her past is never more than a nightmare away.