The Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy

AudiobookReview

  • NextAlwaysThe Next Always~ Book 1
  • Author: Nora Roberts
  • Performed by MacLeod Andrews
  • Published: November 2011 by Brilliance Audio
  • Category: Contemporary, Romance, Paranormal
  • five-stars

The historic hotel in Boonsboro has endured war and peace, the changing of hands, and even rumored hauntings. Now it’s getting a major face-lift from the Montgomery brothers and their eccentric mother. As the architect in the family, Beckett’s social life consists mostly of talking shop over pizza and beer. But there’s another project he’s got his eye on: the girl he’s been waiting to kiss since he was sixteen.

Nora Roberts’ books are, generally speaking, a given for a feel good and comforting read. I love her characters, their interactions, chemistry and the sense of family and community. This trilogy is one of my favourites, I’ve listened to it a couple of times. The Inn and Boonsboro are real places, as are Turn The Page bookstore and Vesta, the family pizza restaurant (all owned by the Roberts family). The beautifully detailed descriptions of the Inn, the remodelling, decor and fittings, just make me want to spend time there (in Jane and Rochester, I think) and explore the area. A bucket list item, perhaps. I love the paranormal layer to the story and how it’s resolved in the following books. And yes, there are similarities between this trilogy and the four Mackade Brothers books but in this instance it doesn’t worry me or spoil the enjoyment of either set of books. There must come a time, especially for such prolific writers, when storylines are replicated to a certain degree. The Montgomery brothers, Beckett, Owen and Ryder are restoring a dilapidated old inn to it’s former glory. The idea is their mother, Justine’s vision.  The inn has stood on the corner of The Square, Boonsboro, Maryland for over two centuries, surviving whatever the years had thrown at it, and is crying out for renovation. 

It knew war, heard the echo of gunfire, the cries of the wounded, the prayers of the fearful. It knew blood and tears, joy and fury. Birth and death. It thrived in good times, endured the hard times. It changed hands and purpose, yet the stone walls stood.

Clare Brewster moved back to Boonsboro, with her two boys and expecting a third, after her husband was killed by a sniper in Iraq. She and the Montgomery brothers have known each other since high school and Beckett has had a crush on Clare since he was a teenager. Clare is a great character, juggling her book store business and family life, and under the circumstances, happy to be back in her home town with her best friends, Avery and Hope, and near her parents. A stalker adds some tension and suspense. The characters are all well-developed and the brothers have distinct and different personalities. The amusing banter between them re-enforces their closeness and the dialogue, as always, is easy and genuine. The blossoming relationship between Beckett and Clare is well portrayed and Beckett’s interactions with the children is in turns hilarious and touching.

  • LastBoyfriendThe Last Boyfriend ~ Book 2
  • Author: Nora Roberts
  • Performed by MacLeod Andrews
  • Published: May 2012 by Brilliance Audio
  • Category: Contemporary, Romance, Paranormal
  • four-stars

Owen is the organizer of the Montgomery clan, running the family’s construction business with an iron fist – and an even less flexible spreadsheet. And though his brothers give him grief for his compulsive list making, the Inn BoonsBoro is about to open right on schedule. The only thing Owen didn’t plan for was Avery MacTavish….  Avery’s popular pizza place is right across the street from the inn, giving her a first-hand look at its amazing renovation – and a newfound appreciation for Owen. Since he was her first boyfriend when they were kids, Owen has never been far from Avery’s thoughts. But the attraction she’s feeling for him now is far from innocent.

Avery McTavish owns and runs Vesta, the Pizzeria across from Inn BoonsBoro. She and Owen Montgomery have been friends forever and he was her first ‘boyfriend’ when she was about five. They have contrasting personalities but fit well together, Avery is spontaneous, sometimes stubborn and dealing, or trying to, with the issues her mother’s abandonment left her with, while Owen is thoughtful, likes order, to be organised and plan everything out. After Avery’s mother walked out on her and her father, Willy B, they were absorbed into, and made a part of, the Montgomery family. Avery and her father have a lovely and incredibly close bond and the family dynamics are at the forefront of all the books which serves to enhance each of the characters. Owen and Avery’s dawning realisation of the shift in their feelings for each other, the friends to lovers thing developing slowly, is charming. They both worry that taking their relationship further will spoil the friendship they share and hold dear. There aren’t any major upheavals but Avery has to deal with her conflicted feelings, wondering if she takes after her mother, and learn to let down her guard. Willy B and Justine Montgomery are having a thing and the three brothers’ reaction to finding out their mother actually has a sex life is so funny. Especially the scene when Owen stops off at his mother’s house for breakfast and walks in on a steamy kiss in the kitchen.

‘You – But – What? Mom.’ ‘Try to make a complete sentence, Owen. Have some coffee.’ She reached for a mug.  ‘Ah…I should…’ Still bright red, Willy B shuffled his enormous feet.  ‘Put some pants on.’ ‘Yes!’ Owen felt his hands flapping in the air, but just couldn’t stop them. ‘That. Pants. You. Please God.’ Rumbling in his throat, Willy B scooted off like a bear towards his cave. Mom.’ ‘That’s my name.’ All cheer, Justine beamed smiles. ‘Sit down, honey. Drink your coffee.’ ‘What-‘ Justine picked up the tongs to take the bacon out to drain. ‘Finish it this time. I’ll get you started. What…?’

Storylines from the previous book are wrapped up, Beckett and Claire’s wedding, the grand opening of the Inn, both of which were detailed and fun, and Hope moves into the Innkeeper’s apartment. There are interesting developments between Ryder and Hope which promise controversy and fireworks in the final instalment. And we get to know more about Lizzie, the resident ghost. Hope and Owen are researching, trying to find out more about Lizzie and why she seems to be connected to the inn.

  • ThePerfectHopeThe Perfect Hope ~ Book 3
  • Author: Nora Roberts
  • Performed by MacLeod Andrews
  • Published: November 2012 by Brilliance Audio
  • Category: Contemporary, Romance, Paranormal
  • five-stars

Ryder is the hardest Montgomery brother to figure out – with a tough-as-nails outside and possibly nothing too soft underneath. He’s surly and unsociable, but when he straps on a tool belt, no woman can resist his sexy swagger. Except, apparently, Hope Beaumont, the innkeeper of his own Inn BoonsBoro….  As the former manager of a D.C. hotel, Hope is used to excitement and glamour, but that doesn’t mean she can’t appreciate the joys of small-town living. She’s where she wants to be – except for in her love life. Her only interaction with the opposite sex has been sparring with the infuriating Ryder, who always seems to get under her skin. Still, no one can deny the electricity that crackles between them…a spark that ignited with a New Year’s Eve kiss.

Hope Beaumont, smart, practical and sophisticated, is loving her job as innkeeper at the inn renovated by the Montgomery family. She loves the quaint and historic small town, the sense of community and having her friends close by, being able to share their joys and triumphs. Boonsboro is her home now and she is very happy with her life. Choosing to leave Georgetown and her job at The Wickham after being treated abominably by Jonathan Wickham, the heir apparent, was the best decision she’d made in a long while. And she has Avery and Clare to thank for suggesting, or rather urging, her to apply for the innkeeper’s position. Ryder Montgomery, gruff, sexy and a man of very few words, although when he does have something to say he’s totally honest and up front, has a great relationship with his brothers and loves and admires his mother. He’s seemingly indifferent to Hope although there’s a definite attraction there, just under the surface, and it’s beginning to win out over the irritability and sparring between them. Ryder can’t understand why Hope appeals to him, but since their very first meeting there’s been something he can’t quite pin down. It takes Hope’s upfront approach to set things in motion, with a little help from Lizzy.  Between the sparks flying every which way, the brothers are rehabbing Avery’s new restaurant, a bakery and a fitness centre. When Hope’s past makes an unpleasant appearance in the person of Jonathan Wickham, followed by his jealous wife, Ryder takes matters into his own hands. No-one is going to upset Hope and get away with it.

He wasn’t going to screw with her. And he sure as hell wasn’t responsible for her history with assholes..…..He’d kept his distance, until recently. He’d kept it because there’d been something right from the jump…….She wasn’t his type, and he sure as hell wasn’t hers……She’d started it, and if they finished it, he’d make sure they both laid their cards on the table first. He played fair…..And if the time came when they both gave the nod, he’d play extra fair. No problem.

There’s a fairly high steam factor in this book but Nora Roberts is an author who can write sexy scenes very tastefully. A lot of dialogue also, compared to the others, and that’s not a bad thing, it serves to give a real insight into the characters. I loved the conclusion of Lizzie’s story and the reason she was at the Inn, even though that aspect was tragic and very poignant, and told extremely well.  Elegant book covers lend themselves to a peaceful and luxurious  atmosphere. I love the characters, the books are written beautifully and put me right there, in the story. This was my first ever introduction to a MacLeod Andrews narration and it’s wonderful, each character distinct and lots of emotion. No one can quite nail the sexy, gravelly male voices like Mr Andrews. Book links ~ Amazon UK Amazon US

The MacKade Brothers #2 ~ Devin and Shane

AudiobookReview

  • Devin MacKadeThe Heart of Devin MacKade #3
  • Author: Nora Roberts
  • Performed by Luke Daniels
  • Released July 2014 by Brilliance Audio
  • Category: Contemporary Fiction, Paranormal, Romance
  • five-stars

 

Sheriff Devin MacKade has always known his destiny was to serve and protect the small town of Antietam, Maryland—and for a long while he thought that future would include Cassie Connor. But when Cassie married the wrong man, Devin did the honorable thing and kept his feelings to himself. Now that Cassie’s divorced, Devin can finally follow his heart. Question is, can Cassie?

It was pretty obvious that Devin and Cassie were going to end up with each other at some point even though, after twelve years of just being her friend, Devin thought Cassie was lost to him but still, I loved the story. It has a little more depth and emotion due to the subject matter of domestic violence and abuse, especially as children are involved.

With his chin on his chest Connor turned to go outside. He knew what was coming, he was going to get whipped. His father had always done the hitting away from the house, away where his mother couldn’t see and wouldn’t know. He’d get a beating now for sure and it would be worse than his father had ever done to him…

Nora Roberts is so good at writing scenes that pull at the heart-strings and I love the way Devin gains the trust and love of Cassie’s children. After first meeting a very subdued and downtrodden Cassie in Rafe and Reagan’s story, she has made a lot of progress since her divorce and Joe Dolin’s imprisonment. Working and living at the B&B has been especially good for her and her still emotionally scarred children. All is not plain sailing though as Joe plots and plans even as he appears to be the model prisoner

Devin and Cassie’s story mirrors that of Abigail Barlow and the man she loves but Cassie makes sure it doesn’t end the same way. And the sad story of the two Corporals from the Battle of Antietam continues to be woven through. 

 

  • Shane MacKadeThe Fall of Shane MacKade #4
  • Author: Nora Roberts
  • Performed by Luke Daniels
  • Released: July 2014 by Brilliance Audio
  • Category: Contemporary Fiction, Paranormal, Romance
  • four-half-stars

Shane MacKade enjoyed everything about women—the look of them, the smell of them, the taste of them. So the last thing he expected was to become a one-woman man. And even more surprising is that it’s the Ph.D.-toting academic Rebecca McKnight who has him headed for a fall. Could Shane’s days as a bachelor be coming to an end?

Shane, the youngest of the MacKade brothers, appeals to me as all the others have. He’s a free spirit, loves the farm, a ladies’ man who isn’t interested in settling down. He’s always tried to shut out the dreams he has, and what they mean, not wanting any part of the unsettling flashbacks from another time. 

When Dr Rebecca Knight, Reagan’s old college roommate, arrives to research the paranormal happenings for her book, Shane is thrown into turmoil on both levels. Rebecca feels an instant connection to the farm which is reinforced by her own vivid dreams. She is the link that completes the circle and Shane falls hard.

‘I’ve never felt this way about anyone. I didn’t want to, but you changed everything.’

‘I love you, Rebecca. Oh god, I love you. And I have to sit down’

The passages going back in time to the war are haunting (forgive the pun) and described so vividly it’s heartbreaking. And the epilogue is the perfect ending. 

I really enjoyed this series, and it’s one I’ll listen to again, the characters are very believable with real feelings. The family ties and bonds are a huge part of why I love these stories and it’s so nice to have totally male men who are family orientated and obviously loving it. Nora Roberts is so good at creating moving and wonderful scenarios that just make you love the characters.
The emotion Luke Daniels puts into his performances, especially so in Devin’s story, is outstanding and intensifies the drama and the feelings each character has for their partners and the others in the family. I hope you keep on doing what you’re doing, Mr Daniels, it’s magic.

tt10407948flttAmazon US Amazon UK

The MacKade Brothers #1 ~ Rafe and Jared

AudiobookReview

  • Rafe MackadeThe Return of Rafe MacKade #1
  • Author: Nora Roberts
  • Performed by Luke Daniels
  • Released: May 2014 by Brilliance Audio
  • Category: Contemporary Romance/Paranormal
  • four-half-stars

Ten years after disappearing from Antietam, Maryland, the bad boy has come home. Cleaned up and successful now—though still dangerously good-looking—Rafe MacKade sets the town on fire…and tongues wagging. Not even lovely newcomer Regan Bishop is immune to his charms. Though Regan claims to not want to get involved with a rebel, Rafe’s pretty sure that her reaction to their sizzling kisses suggests otherwise….

 

I’ve had this book on my Kindle for a while but didn’t get round to reading it yet. When I saw it released in audio format with Luke Daniels that was the only incentive I needed to purchase the audiobooks.

For all his macho maleness I liked Rafe, his confused feelings and inner fight were written so well and Regan’s misplaced need to be totally opposite to her mother made her go too far to the other extreme. Rafe and Regan both think they know what they want but discover it might not be what they need.

I wonder if the seeds for the Inn Boonsboro trilogy are in this story. An old building in Maryland being renovated for paying guests, haunted and with ties to the battle at Antietam. Not that it matters in this instance, I love the Boonsboro books and I’m really going to enjoy this series. The writing flowed well and the characters are described in such a way they’re easy to like. The sub story of Cassie and the abuse she suffered was handled sensitively and has got to be a storyline that will continue.

All the elements of a classic Nora Roberts, gorgeously handsome bad boy, beautiful independent woman and a good story/romance. I like very much Ms Roberts’ formula of setting the story in a small but interesting town, the paranormal aspect and the sprinkling of humour. The way she portrays families, especially brothers, their closeness to each other offset by the bickering and some great banter.

“He’s hooked,” Jared grinned and lifted his beer. “And his heart looks so pretty, right there on his sleeve.”

 

Jared Mackade

  • The Pride of Jared MacKade #2
  • Author: Nora Roberts
  • Performed by Luke Daniels
  • Released May 2014 by Brilliance Audio
  • Category: Contemporary Romance/Paranormal
  • four-half-stars

Jared MacKade believes in taking a stand, and he never turns his back on a fight. So when his work as an attorney brings him up against Savannah Morningstar, her rude behavior and strong defenses aren’t nearly enough to scare him off – quite the opposite. Thoughts of the outrageously direct and sinfully sexy woman keep Jared coming back for more. And the more he gets to know her, the more determined he is to stand by her always.

After dipping unsuccessfully into the matrimonial pool, Jared Mackade is sure he won’t try that again. Then he meets Savannah Morningstar (love the name). She isn’t the typical female protagonist found in Nora Roberts’ books but she is a very interesting character. Part Native American, she lived on the rodeo circuit with her father until he threw her out for getting pregnant at sixteen. It’s apparent the last ten years haven’t been easy ones for her and Bryan, her son. Now she’s decided it’s time to put down roots in a cabin in the woods near the Mackade farm.

Jared, a lawyer, is the more polished of the four brothers and likes things set out neat and tidy in a way he can rationalise. Savannah does anything but fit that particular bill. Nevertheless they have an instant attraction to each other and also find they share a love for the woods and a feeling for the spirits that haunt them. Their relationship is complex and difficult for them both to get to grips with because they’re both proud people. Savannah makes no apologies for her past, and why should she. Jared’s pride and yes, I have to say, touches of arrogance get in the way until he realises what an idiot he’s been.

When Nora Roberts is on form she’s one of the best. I love the way she writes the rapport between the brothers and the development of Jared and Bryan’s relationship.

Here’s the thing, Bryan,” Jared scooted away just enough so that he could face the boy fully. ‘I figure I oughta run this by you, since you’ve been the man of the house for so long. I’m in love with your mother.”

“I’m gonna ask you to take my name, Bryan and to take me on, as your father. I don’t just want your mother you see, I want both of you so you both have to want me.’

Jared found his arms full of boy……have a cigar he thought giddily. You’ve got yourself a son.

I like the continuation of the characters from the first book, Cassie and her kids still trying to come to terms with what’s gone before, Rafe and Reagan’s happiness and the sub plot about the fight between the two soldiers who met in the woods during the battle of Antietam continues to be woven into the story.

Ms Roberts’ writing can mostly always bring laughter and emotionally charged moments, especially when describing the two boys from the war who just want to get home. And couple that with Luke Daniels’ performance and it’s win all the way. He’s just so skilled at making the characters come alive and is as good portraying females and kids as he is at alpha males. And switches so smoothly from one to the other. Great stuff. 

tt10407948fltt     Amazon US  Amazon UK