I read Nora Roberts’ very first book. I haven’t read ALL the books she’s written since. That would almost be a full-time job. I don’t know how she manages to be so prolific while maintaining the quality level she does. But I have read and enjoyed many of her books (and even disliked a few of them). So now comes this newest book, the first of a new trilogy in a town called BoonsBoro.
BoonsBoro is very much like Mitford (without the religion). It is even in the same general region of the country. I think all of us yearn at times to live in a small town like this where everyone is your friend. Where there are plenty of people ready and willing to help out a neighbor. I can’t tell you what a pleasant change this is from a typical novel written by men in which the vast majority of people are jerks–incompetent, undependable, unhelpful, and stupid.
Yes, BoonsBoro and Mitford are fictional, utopian. But so very many towns written by men are just as fictional, dystopian. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a hard-bitten detective who’s seen too much of life fighting his way through all the unpleasant people to solve the brutal murder, yada, yada, yada. But sometimes my soul is feeling trampled, and I want something healing. This book really filled the bill. I will be listening to it again and again when I’m feeling in need of comfort.
One reviewer said this book was somewhat predictable. And so it is. Also predictable are murder mysteries with tough-as-nails private dicks. What matters within a given genre is not whether it is predictable but how well it carries out its tale within the parameters of that genre. I found that this book did an outstanding job. I loved the town, I loved the inn, and I loved the people (especially the children). Every novel needs some conflict to fuel the plot; even a novel as cozy as this one. I thought she did a good job with that too.
I see that several reviewers didn’t like the narrator. I liked him a lot. Where someone found his narration flat, I found it relaxed and laid back–completely congruent with the story. There have been a few occasions when I absolutely couldn’t listen to a romance novel narrated by a man. I pictured the actor reading this romance stuff and could only imagine him hating every moment of it and hating the fact that the need for money forced him to do this sort of distasteful work. Not with this narrator. I felt that he was enjoying the story too. I don’t imagine I really know the inner workings of the narrator’s mind, but I felt very comfortable with his narration. Also, someone hated the way he handled the kids’ voices. I thought the way he did them was a total hoot. I liked it.
So to sum up... If you just finished a hard-hitting political thriller by Clancy or Ludlum and want more of the same, keep looking; this isn’t it. However, if you just finished reading a hard-hitting political thriller and now want something calming and sweet to get all that evil out of your head, this is the book. I really enjoyed it. I hope you will too.
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