#ThrowbackThursday ~ The Next Always by Nora Roberts #Contemporary #Romance

Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that were published over a year ago. Not to mention those that are languishing on the to be read pile for whatever reason.

This week I’m revisiting the first in a trilogy. I’ve listened to it a couple of times and it ranks as one of my favourites, due in no small part to MacLeod Andrews’ narration. My original review for all three books can be found here. Continue reading

Come Sundown by Nora Roberts #BookReview #BlogTour @LittleBrownUK #TuesdayBookBlog

  • Author: Nora Roberts
  • Published: May 2017 by Piatkus
  • Category: Contemporary, Romance, Psychological, Crime, Mystery, Suspense, Book Review, Books, Reading.

Love. Lies. Murder. A lot can happen… COME SUNDOWN.

Bodine Longbow loves to rise with the dawn. As the manager of her family’s resort in Western Montana, there just aren’t enough hours in the day – for life, for work, for loved ones. She certainly doesn’t have time for love, not even in the gorgeous shape of her childhood crush Callen Skinner, all grown up and returned to the ranch. Then again, maybe Callen can change her mind, given time…

But when a young woman’s body is discovered on resort land, everything changes. Callen falls under the suspicion of a deputy sheriff with a grudge. And for Bodine’s family, the murder is a shocking reminder of an old loss. Twenty-five years ago, Bodine’s Aunt Alice vanished, never to be heard of again. Could this new tragedy be connected to Alice’s mysterious disappearance?

As events take a dramatic and deadly turn, Bodine and Callen must race to uncover the truth – before the sun sets on their future together.

The story opens with a flashback to 1991. At twenty-one years old Alice Bodine was on her way back home after up and leaving suddenly three years earlier. She had not contacted her family apart from a few postcards when she first left. With not much farther to go before she reaches the ranch, a split second decision altered the course of her life and thrust her into a living nightmare.  Continue reading

Echoes in Death (In Death Series #44) by JD Robb #SciFi #Crime #Audiobook #SundayBlogShare

  • 31384635Author: JD Robb
  • Performed by Susan Ericksen
  • Released: February 2017 by Brilliance Audio
  • Category: Science Fiction, Crime, Romance
  • four-stars

As NY Lt. Eve Dallas and her billionaire husband Roarke are driving home, a young woman—dazed, naked, and bloody—suddenly stumbles out in front of their car. Roarke slams on the brakes and Eve springs into action.

It amazes me that with a series containing this number of books, evil can appear in so many varied forms. The subject matter is grim, abuse – both physical and sexual, by someone targeting young and happily married couples (with the exception of the first.) Continue reading

Devoted In Death ~ (In Death Series 41) by JD Robb

  • DevotedInDeathAuthor: JD Robb
  • Performed by Susan Ericksen
  • Released: September 2015 by Brilliance Audio
  • Category: Crime, Suspense, Romance
  • four-stars

Eve Dallas tracks a couple whose passion is fueled by cold brutality in this crime thriller from the #1 New York Times-bestselling author of Obsession in Death and Festive in Death.

When Lieutenant Eve Dallas examines a body in a downtown Manhattan alleyway, the victim’s injuries are so extensive that she almost misses the clue. Carved into the skin is the shape of a heart – and initials inside reading E and D….

Ella-Loo Parsens wants to go to New York City and whatever Ella-Loo wants boyfriend Darryl Roy James makes sure she gets. Even if it means murder. From Arkansas, state through state, all the way to NYC they leave a trail of devastation behind them. But Ella-Loo and Darryl have no idea they have the best of the best on their trail.

Lieutenant Eve Dallas of the NYPSD, only back from vacation the day before, has caught a brutal murder case. She and Detective Delia Peabody are at the scene. The victim, a cellist with the Metropolitan Opera company, had obviously been tortured – most probably over the course of a couple of days, as a missing persons had been filed that morning by his mother. Dorian Kuper hadn’t shown up for work two nights running, missed a class and hasn’t answered his ‘link.

She thought, fleetingly, that twenty-four hours earlier she’d been basking, mostly naked, on the sun-washed sands of her husband’s private island with Roarke, also mostly naked, beside her.

However she’d begun 2061, she was back in New York now, and so was death.

She was a murder cop, so while others slept in the blustery dark still an hour shy of dawn, she crouched over a body, hands bare but for sealant, brown eyes flat and narrowed.

As the investigation gains momentum Eve and her team discover this is not an isolated murder. They find a string of bodies across the country, leading to the present case. When a young woman is reported missing, Eve realises there is only a two or three-day time frame to find the killers before another body is added to the count. Continue reading

Times Change ~ Time and Again #2

 

  • TimesChangeAudiobook Review

  • Author: Nora Roberts
  • Performed by Luke Daniels
  • Published: May 2015 by Brilliance Audio
  • Category: Time Travel, Romance
  • four-stars

Cynical Jacob Hornblower has followed his brother, Caleb, back in time, hoping to convince him to return home. His mission is soon forgotten, however, when he finds himself captivated by Liberty’s spitfire sister, Sunny. But can a man who is down on love truly understand the unbounded strength of the human heart?

In the first book, Time Was, Caleb Hornblower inadvertently found him self transported back in time to the 20th Century. He fell in love with Libby Stone and, deciding he just couldn’t leave her, chose to stay in the past. Jacob Hornblower, an astrophysicist, has spent months, years working on plotting coordinates and building a spaceship that would stand up to the rigors of his intended time travel. Cal’s report, transported back by his unmanned ship, had been fairly precise. Jacob had every intention of taking his brother home. Continue reading

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

Time Was ~ Time and Again #1

AudiobookReview

  • TW2Author: Nora Roberts
  • Performed by Luke Daniels
  • Published: April 2015 by Brilliance Audio
  • Category: Romance, Time Travel
  • four-stars

Stranded in the present, time traveler Caleb Hornblower’s biggest problem isn’t returning to the twenty-third century – but falling head over heels for the beguiling Liberty Stone, who shows him a love more powerful than time itself. Though Caleb knows he belongs in the future, how can he leave the past, and Liberty, behind?

As Liberty Stone stood on the cabin’s porch watching the storm rage overhead she had no regrets about being tucked away in the Oregon mountains. A cultural anthropologist, she was spending time at the place of her birth to write her dissertation on the last five years of extensive research. She was looking forward to the solitude. Then she saw the light shoot across the sky and the unmistakable sound of a crash.

Caleb Hornblower, a freelance cargo pilot from the 23rd century, is on a routine flight home from Mars when he diverts to avoid a meteor shower and is catapulted through a time gateway. With instruments going wild, the cockpit in darkness and the pressure making him lose consciousness, his ship whirls towards the earth. As Libby races to where she believes a plane went down she finds Caleb injured by the side of the track and manages to get him back to the cabin. As she nurses Caleb back to health Libby attributes his sometimes strange behaviour as the result of the accident. Little does she know.

The cockpit lights went out, leaving only the whirl of kaleidoscopic colors from the instrument panel. His ship went into a spiral, tumbling end over end like a stone fired from a slingshot. Now the light was white, hot and brilliant. Instinctively he threw up an arm to shield his eyes. The sudden crushing pressure on his chest left him helpless to do more than gasp for breath.

I remember reading this book a long time ago. I think it was first published in the late 80’s or early 90’s as a Silhouette romance. I went for this newly released audio version because, well, it’s Luke Daniels and his narrations are always excellent, he always brings so much to his performance which enhances a story enormously.

Given the passage of years and the formula it followed, the story is a little dated. The dominant, could be seen as overpowering, male and the shy, virginal female, intelligent but naive, scenario could have been less than appealing but Nora Roberts handles it well. Her female characters and writing have evolved hugely since this was written but still, I like Libby and Cal and I’m glad Libby’s self assurance and nerve grows as the story progresses.

The time travel element gives the story an extra layer, even though the details are fairly vague. I imagine it was a precursor to the incredibly good In Death series which started around the same time, I think, and is written under Ms Roberts’ pseudonym, JD Robb. This series is also set in the future, although not so far, and is way more comprehensive. Caleb’s stunned and bemused reactions in finding himself transported back in time and faced with an antiquated lifestyle, including the cars and kitchen equipment, are credible and amusing. I like Libby’s parents and their interactions with Caleb. I’m giving the story a four star rating taking into account it’s twenty five or so years old. 

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