#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

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