I really wanted to review this book after I read it but there's just not enough time in the day to get everything done and now it's been too long sinc...moreI really wanted to review this book after I read it but there's just not enough time in the day to get everything done and now it's been too long since I finished. So just a few short comments: I really loved this book. Great characters, great storyline. It really sucked me in from the first page to the last. It came across to me much more like some of NR's great older books than some of her good-but-not-great newer ones. It's definitely one I can see rereading, which hasn't been true of most of the recent hardcovers.
(p.s. I'm a bit surprised by the number of lower reviews for this book. I thought the hardcore NR fans would love it)(less)
Pretty much the only author I buy hardcover books for is Nora Roberts and this book gave me no reason to change that (and at $19.56 the book better be...morePretty much the only author I buy hardcover books for is Nora Roberts and this book gave me no reason to change that (and at $19.56 the book better be good ;)
Series Note: No series connections.
Summary: Raised by a cold, calculating, unloving mother, 16 year old Elizabeth Fitch gives in to an urge for rebellion one evening and forever lives to regret the choices she made. When the "smoke" clears, her life will never be the same.
Twelve years pass, and Elizabeth, now Abigail Lowery, has been on the run ever since. But now she's settled into a small town in Arkansas where she hopes to remain invisible and be left alone. Then the local sheriff, Brooks Gleason, takes an interest in mysterious loner Abigail. She tries to put him off, but he's determined.
Brooks can't help but want to know more about Abigail. Who is she? What is she hiding? Why does she always carry a gun? He wants answers but as he gets to know Abigail, he wants to get to know HER better. But he'll have to get through her barriers and help her resolve her past before either of them can move on.
Review: I've read a lot of Nora Roberts books. I've probably been reading her for about 10 years now. She's the author that got me into reading romance books. Off the top of my head, I think there's only one book that I didn't really care for of hers. Many of her books are all-time favs of mine that I've reread many, many times. And even though I've liked her last 5 or so hardcover releases, they've all come up a bit short when compared to her past single title releases. Don't get me wrong, they were still good books, but they didn't really hold a candle to books like Honest Illusions, Montana Sky, Carnal Innocence, True Betrayals and the like.
I can't quite say this book reaches the level of those books, but I do think it's much closer in tone and story than a lot of the more recent ones. For one thing, the detail immersion is absent. Those of you who've read NR's recent hardcovers know that those books took a subject matter and dove into it full-boar. You knew a lot more about a subject once you finished the book. Me, I didn't mind it at all because the subjects were all ones I enjoyed but I know a lot of readers were a bit turned off by that aspect. If you were one of those, you'll be happy to know that doesn't happen in this book at all. And while I liked the attention to detail in the past books, I can't say I missed it's presence in this one.
Another issue I came across in reader reviews from time to time was a questioning of originality. This character made me think of that character, this story seemed like a combination of this book and that book or was a divergent story of another book. I've noticed it when reading some of her recent books but mostly just shrugged it off. I didn't notice it at all in this book. Not once while reading the story did I think a character reminded me of another of her characters or that a story had similarities to another. Everything seemed rather original to me.
And both these issues, or lack thereof, definitely give the book a different vibe than the other recent ones. It's something I think those critical of those recent books will appreciate.
Now, on to the review of the book itself.
Great initial set up. NR starts off by going back to the beginning to where things all went wrong for Elizabeth. She spends about 100 pages setting up the story and I was thoroughly hooked. Poor Elizabeth. What that girl went through. NR did a great job getting readers into Elizabeth's head and setting up her situation. It really had me wanting to keep reading to see what happened to her.
After that the story jumps ahead 12 years to the current time with Elizabeth, now Abigail, living in a small Arkansas town, trying not to draw any attention to herself. I think the biggest thing to say about Elizabeth is her similarity to the character of Temperance Brennan from the TV Show Bones...though that character originates from Kathy Reichs's books. If you watch the show and read this book, the similarity is very very obvious. There's actually a line a little ways into the book that's very close to something Temperance Brennan said in an episode of Bones. So I kinda have to assume the similarity was intentional.
Did it bother me? Not in the least. Temperance Brennan is a fascinating character personality wise. Very clinical, logical, a bit emotionally stunted, not up on modern cultural references and all that. I've just always liked the character. So to see that translated into a pure romance heroine was great. It's definitely not a personality type you comes across often...or ever...in romance books. It definitely gave a uniqueness to the character that I appreciated.
And like on the show, you get to see the character grow and change when that special man comes into her life. I really enjoyed the romance that grows between Abigail and Brooks. Brooks may not be a fav hero of the ones NR has written (he just lacked that little extra special something). But he was very likable. Not quite Alpha, not quite Beta, but an all around nice guy who knew how to push Abigail to open herself up. The romance that grows between these two is a bit on the low-key side but very sweet and enjoyable.
The plot focuses in two areas: one being Abigail finally facing up to the past and trying to put it behind her, and the second being troubles around the town they live that Brooks, as sheriff, has to deal with. Both aspects give the story life and keep things from being too one-track. It also makes you wonder a bit about which issue will be the dominant conflict point as you near the end.
I liked how everything wrapped up, though. The finale could have been perhaps a bit stronger, a bit more tense, action-filled and dangerous, but at the same time I thought it was a fitting end. And NR did throw something in there at the end that surprised me a little. Plus, there's an epilogue. Just the fact that there was an epilogue made me happy. I don't think one of her single titles has had an epilogue or even just a good closing scene between the H/H in a while. But this one did and it gave you that nice happy sigh because you got a final scene between the H/H that was just about their relationship and the happiness they're hoping to build.
Did I have any complaints or criticisms about the book?....Honestly, no. None that leap out and come to mind. I was pretty damn satisfied from page one till the end. Each of the last few books of hers (single titles) has had one or two things that knocked down my rating a little, but I didn't have any issues with this book. I enjoyed each and every part of the book and when I finished I was perfectly content with the way everything played out.
So...final conclusions? A pretty great book from an awesome author. The die-hard Nora fans I think will love the book, new fans will probably enjoy it. And those of you who've been straddling the line of her last few hardcovers not quite coming up to par may find this one more to your liking. (less)
I thought maybe this book would end up being my favorite of the series because of the interesting romantic pairing, but the book didn't quite make it...moreI thought maybe this book would end up being my favorite of the series because of the interesting romantic pairing, but the book didn't quite make it to favorite status. Not that I didn't like the book because I did, but it just didn't hit the exact not I was expecting or wanting.
Series Note: Fourth book in the “Bride Quartet” series by Nora Roberts about 4 best friends who run a wedding planning business. I'd recommend reading the series in order because the characters and situation are so intertwined.
Summary: Parker Brown, of those Connecticut Browns, is the calm, cool, obsessively organized leader of Vows wedding planning business. Her and her 3 friends may be equal partners in the business, but it's Parker who takes the lead, always ready and available for a panicky, neurotic bride who needs help. So it's to some consternation that Parker finds herself attracted to bad boy mechanic Malcolm Kavanaugh.
Mal is nothing like her usual type, but Parker can't deny her attraction and curiosity about the man. And his surprising forwardness in his pursuit of her is intriguing. After some debate, Parker relents and the two fall headlong into an affair that takes both by surprise because it's so much more than an affair. But Mal will have to learn to open up to Parker if he hopes to win her heart.
Review: I've been intrigued by the potential of this book since I first realized what direction Nora Roberts was heading for Parker's romance. Opposites attract romances are always interesting. And that's definitely what you have here with Parker – the anally organized, calm, cool rich girl – and Mal – the bad boy, motorcycle driving mechanic. I couldn't wait to see what happened between these two.
Did it live up to my expectations. Mostly, but not entirely. Opposites attract romances don't always work because sometimes the characters are just too different for a relationship to seem at all realistic. That didn't happen here. Even those Parker and Mal are very different, they fit together well. Mal may have a bit of a bad boy reputation, but at heart he's a really good guy. I really liked Mal a lot. Parker's pretty cool too...maybe a bit too....I don't know...prim? Anal? Over-dedicated? Not sure how to describe it, but I still liked her. And when Mal comes into the picture he gets her to loosen up a bit. Plus, Mal blends in rather well in their little group of friends.
They have some good chemistry together and some sexy scenes to go along with it. I was expecting the relationship to be a little more edgy because of the who good girl/bad boy thing. There was just something a little too calm about how the relationship progressed. I wanted just a smidge more edgy spark. And maybe something a little less predictable for the romantic conflict because there's really no deviation from the predictable path...which is that Parker falls for Mal, wants him forever, but Mal's got some issues related to his less than stellar childhood and has to work his way through them before he can commit to Parker. So I wouldn't have minded something a little less obvious. But even so, it was a nice sweet romance that makes you sigh and feel the happy fluffy bunny feelings.
And of course, as with any Nora Roberts series, you have active involvement of the past characters. I love that they all play big roles and you get to keep getting to know them and learning more about them. You also get to see them planning their wedding and being the crazy brides that they are always having to deal with as part of their job. It's fun to read.
By far, my favorite part of the book was the last chapter. One of the things I'd worried about a little while reading this book was that it was the last book in the series. One of the things you've gotten in this series is the continuation of romances from book to book. In book 1, Mac and Carter get engaged, in the books that follow you get to read about wedding preparations, Parker finding Mac the perfect dress, and then in the last book their wedding. And you get something similar with the other 2 couples. One of the main themes being Parker finding each of her friends the perfect wedding dress. So as you are reading this book, you're realizing you're not going to get any of that for Parker because there is no next book. It was disappointing. But I should have had some faith in Nora Roberts because the last chapter of the book (an epilogue, really) is so absolutely perfect. I adored it and thought it couldn't have been more fitting. Does it give you everything like you got with the other characters? No, there's just not enough room for that, but it did give me the one thing I wanted (which I won't say so I don't ruin the lovely surprise of it). Reading that last chapter leaves you with a nice happy feeling and a sense of coming full circle. I loved it.
So what did I think of the series as a whole? It's a good series. Very true blue contemporary romance. Something hardcore romance fans would probably love. And like just about anything Nora writes these days, the attention to detail, in this case with the wedding planning business, is exception. It was a fun, sweet, romantic series to read. I don't think I'd list it as a favorite among her series, but I enjoyed it.(less)
I know I'm biased because I'm a huge Nora Roberts fan, but it's a rare day that she writes a book that I don't really enjoy. This year's hardcover rel...moreI know I'm biased because I'm a huge Nora Roberts fan, but it's a rare day that she writes a book that I don't really enjoy. This year's hardcover release, "Chasing Fire," was no exception. I was hooked into this book pretty quick.
Series Note: No series connections.
Summary: Fire season is approaching Missoula, Montana and smoke-jumper Rowan Tripp is returning to base to prepare for the physical demands to come. But this year, coming back isn't as easy after losing her jump partner the year before. Still Rowan knows how to focus on the tasks at hand. And one of those tasks is helping put a cast of rookies through the paces to see who will make the cut an who won't.
One of those rookies is Gulliver Curry, a California hotshot firefighter. Gull is instantly attracted to sexy, independent Rowan. But Rowan has a policy of never getting involved with fellow smoke-jumpers. So Gull will have to work extra hard to work his way in...not that he minds all that much. And when danger rears its head...when someone wants to start blaming Rowan and all the other smoke-jumpers for last year's tragic death...Gull plans to be right there at Rowan's side.
Review: Hmm...where to start my review...
Like all of Nora Robert's recent books, this one takes a certain subject matter and jumps right into it full boar. It's someone NR excels at. She doesn't keep you on the periphery of the subject, she immerses you in it. Some readers don't care for that, and some, like me, enjoy it a great deal. I like to feel like I'm a part of the story and NR knows how to do that. So you really an excellent sense of all the nuances and the ambiance of the situation - the area, the job, the fire, the danger, the camaraderie. It was well done.
Though my one complaint in this area was the lingo...there is a lot of smoke-jumper terminology that I was lost on. I'm not sure if it's because it was explained once I it didn't catch in my head so later on I was confused or if NR just assumed we'd know enough to get it. Either way, there were times when the characters were fighting fires and I wasn't quite sure what exactly they were doing because the terminology lost me. It wasn't quite a minor issue, but nor was it a huge one, just something that could have been better but it didn't ruin the reading of the book for me.
Characters wise...I loved these two characters. Rowan is the epitome of a strong-minded, strong-willed and strong-bodied heroine. She's the kind of character you can look at and say 'I want to be like her.' I enjoyed reading about a heroine who wasn't a stupid whiny twit who worried about her nails. There was just something about Rowan that I really liked.
Then there's Gull...I loved Gull. What a fantastic hero he was. He's such an intriguing mix of Alpha and Beta hero. He's Alpha because he's a fit, bad ass firefighter who can kick some ass in a fight. And he's a beta because he very intelligent, loves to read, spouts off random stuff from books, uses reason like a weapon, and makes spreadsheets to understand things. It was a fascinating mix. You read about him and shake you head wondering, who is this guy and where did he come from? The way he could talk Rowan down when she was in a mood was great. There was nothing about him as a character I didn't like.
These two together had great chemistry. What starts as scratching an itch during a stressful time grows and changes into more as the book progresses. Gull is like the perfect foil for Rowan's hot-headed temper. He knew how to handle all her moods. And Rowan, with her wariness of relationships and commitment, was perfectly suited to Gull's quirky personality and reasonable way of handling her. They made a great pair and some of the dialogue between them was great.
There's also some time spent on a secondary romance between Rowan's father, Lucas, and a woman named Ella. It was sweet to read. I thought Rowan's reaction to the relationship was very natural and not unexpected. Maybe it was a little childish, but it was a very human reaction to a daughter seeing her father, a man who had never dated in her life since her mother ran off, suddenly falling in love.
Now, on the suspense angle of the book...it was an interesting part of the story. I wouldn't say it is one of my favorite suspense plots from NR, but I liked it. Early on, I thought the identity of the bad guy was going to be way to obvious, but I was dead wrong on that count. I had another suspense, but all through the book I was never really sure who the bad guy was going to be...I lean one way or another, but I couldn't pinpoint it down till closer to the end. From a technical standpoint, there's no neon blink sign toward the bad guy, but it isn't too hard to guess.
I liked how the plot progressed, though. It takes a lot of twists and turns that have you trying to figure out how it all ties in together. It's not a high tension/anxiety plot, really, but there's enough tension there to keep you reading. And the resolution at the end is moderately intense and nicely written. So all around, the suspense plot was good, if not great.
My biggest complaint about the book would be that when the book ends, you don't know that outcome of what happened to a secondary character. It's left hanging and that really pissed me off. I had being left wondering what happened. Characters and stuff stick with me, so I want to know. Add to that the lack of an epilogue...which could have given an update on said character...and given the H/H a final scene that wasn't tied in with the big finale, and I had to bump down to 4-stars.
It was good book, though. I definitely liked it a lot and it was worth the hardcover price. For you Nora fans, this book is very much in line with her other recent hardcovers...so if you liked them, you'd probably like this one, but if your one of those who is frustrated by the way her hardcover stories have gone over recent years, then you'll probably be frustrated by this book.(less)
Yet another solid book by Nora Roberts, and a good addition to this series. Like the other books in this series, they haven't been a favorite of mine...moreYet another solid book by Nora Roberts, and a good addition to this series. Like the other books in this series, they haven't been a favorite of mine among NR's books, but I enjoyed it.
Series Note: Third book in the “Bride Quartet” series. Because of the heavy character connections and overall series theme, I'd recommend reading the books in order even though the storylines are pretty independent.
Summary: Laurel McBane has secretly loved her best friend's brother for a long time, but she's always been just one of the girls, one of the Quartet, to him. Almost like a sister. Until one day her frustration with him gets the better of her and she plants a kiss on him. And it changes everything. Because what Laurel didn't know what that Delaney Brown has secretly harbored less than sisterly feelings for her. He's pushed them aside for years but once Laurel kisses him, it brings it all to the forefront.
Now the two must decide if they want to explore this new facet of their relationship. Do they take a chance on ruining a solid friendship over what could be temporary lust? And can Delaney get past his issues with letting woman all the way in? Plus, Laurel must face her inadequacy issues about being in a different social strata than Del. But if they can get it all worked out, the two have a chance to find happiness together.
Review: As always, Nora Roberts never fails to engage me in a story. I've read just about everything she's written (and that's like 200+ books) and only a very small handful haven't quite done it for me. This wasn't one of them. This is a sweet, enjoyable contemporary romance.
Which is an issue to get out there, like I've done in my reviews for the first two books in this series. Those of you familiar with NR's books know that her series/trilogies tend to be romance with a strong suspense type element or an overall suspenseful story arc, but that's not the case with the “Bride Quartet.” This series is purely contemporary romance; all about the characters lives, the drama, and the romance. So don't go into this series expecting something like the Key trilogy, Sign of Seven trilogy, Circle trilogy, etc. This one is more like NR's old Silhouette books, or like her Chesapeake Bay Saga (though even more purely romance). Which is not a bad thing...romance is great.
This book is similar in tone to the last book, in that you have two people, Laurel and Del, who've known each other for years and suddenly dip their toes into a romantic relationship. I'm always a little wary of that kind of story because you have to wonder how two people could have such a close relationship for like 20 years and only just now get to the romantic aspect. Something always seems a little off to me about that, but I didn't mind it so much in this book.
Laurel and Del's relationship is sweet, as have been all the other romances in this series. I liked both characters and enjoyed reading about them falling in love. Both have to deal with issues that are real to them...Laurel her inadequacy about not being in Del's same social class, and Del having issues letting Laurel truly into his life. I thought their relationship was nicely realistic. And I enjoyed the bits of humor that popped up now and then. The thing of the shoes being held hostage was hilarious. I loved that.
And of course you get the bonus of having the past to H/h's as active participants in the book. NR is I think one of a couple Queen's when it comes to writing series that keep other characters actively useful in other books (Robyn Carr comes to mind as another, but on a completely differently level). I really love that you get to keep up with Emma and Mac, see the plans for their weddings develop, and get to know Parker more (who will be book 4 heroine). It lets you get such a deeper connection to the characters. And I love how close these 4 women are. It's great to read.
Overall, just a sweetly romantic book. It had me sighing and laughing and enjoying the nice HEA at the end. I'm really looking forward to reading the next book, which will feature calm, cool Parker, and rough and tumble Malcolm. Should be interesting!(less)
For me, Nora Roberts almost never fails to deliver an enjoyable, readable book. This one was no different. I liked "The Search" a lot...I probably wou...moreFor me, Nora Roberts almost never fails to deliver an enjoyable, readable book. This one was no different. I liked "The Search" a lot...I probably wouldn't qualify it as one of my favorites by her, but I can see myself reading it again in a year or two.
Series Note: No series connections.
Summary: Years ago, Fiona Bristow had the perfect life in the works...a great fiance, an upcoming wedding, a loving family. Then it all fell apart when she unintentionally caught the eye of the Red Scarf Killer. When all was said and done, she was the only survivor of RSK, her fiance and his police K-9 partner were dead, and her life was in shambles. To help recover from the terrifying, grief-inducing ordeal, Fiona moves to Orcas Island and in honor of her late fiance starts a canine obedience and search and rescue training school. Since then, she's managed to find peace and be content with her life.
Then things change yet again. First, she learns that there is a copycat killer out there imitated RSK and who may have her in his sights. Then Simon Doyle drives up her lane, desperately needing help training his rambunctious puppy, Jaws. Fiona is drawn to surly but kind Simon and what starts as a hot affair leads to more. But RSK2 is on her heels, constantly reminding her that a killer wants her dead.
Review: If you've read any of NRs recent books, this one is much in the same vein. NR picks a topic - like house restoration in "Tribute" and animal conservation/rescue in "Black Hills" - and fully immerses the readers in it. In this case, it's canine search and rescue. And obviously there's a romance and suspense plot to go along with it. But in any case, this book is very similar in tone to those other ones. Interpret that however you like.
Personally, I really enjoyed the canine S&R aspect of the book. Half because I'm a dog person and half because I find the topic of canine S&R fascinating. NR does a fabulous job of diving into the topic, giving readers a vibrant picture of canine S&R. I was hooked on that part of the book from the start. Is there too much detail, too much of a focus on the subject? Some might say yes, but I loved this aspect of the book. It totally worked for me.
On the character and romance front - I really liked both Fiona and Simon. Fiona is a strong woman to have gone through what she did and put her life back together. And Simon...he's a bit of an oddity. He's a bit surly, a bit broody, says what he thinks even if it's not always pretty...and yet, there was something really likable about him. Probably because underneath the loner surliness, he's a genuinely nice guy with a soft spot for a silly dog. I liked him. And I thought he and Fiona fit well together. Great chemistry between the two.
I did wish that A) Fiona's dialogue wasn't so rambly and psychoanalytical at times. There were times when things she said just came off as over-the-top too intuitive. And B) I wished there had been a little more conflict in the romantic relationship. It was a bit too smooth for me and I wanted a little more conflict between them before they settled into love. But these were mostly minor issues.
The suspense plot was where I had most of my issues with the book and what kept it from being a 5-star read. I liked the basic premise of the story: a woman who survives a serial killer, now a copy cat has risen and is coming after her. It sounded like it was going to be a great, creepy story. But as I read, that creepy tension, that edge-of-you-seat what's-going-to-happen-next intensity never developed. The suspense plot is sort of very lackadaisical, very low-intensity. You know early on who the killer is, why he's doing it, what he plans. There's no guesswork, other than wondering how at the end of the book he's going to get close to killing Fiona...because you KNOW that's going to happen (romantic suspense protocol, after all). And just the way the RSK thing happened in the background really sucked the intensity out of the story. I just wanted more from this suspense plot. Even the big ending didn't feel so bit. I was expecting and hoping for a big finale - a tense, life and death battle but the end, for me, felt a bit anti-climactic and flat. Which was disappointing.
Don't get me wrong, the suspense plot wasn't bad, but it didn't have enough bite for me. Maybe that's because it's a serial killer story, and those tend to be very creepy and tense, and this one just...wasn't. But it wasn't a bad plot at all. Just maybe not what I wanted from the story. It's balanced out, though, by how much I enjoyed the canine S&R stuff, the characters, and the romance.
For you NR fans, will you like this book? Probably. The dedicated fans will mostly likely like it, but those of you who haven't like the last few books as much, wished she wouldn't get so focused on a topic might have some issues with the book. For me, as a dedicated NR fan who has read almost everything she's written, I consider "The Search" a solid 4-star read.(less)
Yet another solid book from Nora Roberts. It's a rare book by NR that doesn't ring my bell in some way. Like the first book, though, I can't say this...moreYet another solid book from Nora Roberts. It's a rare book by NR that doesn't ring my bell in some way. Like the first book, though, I can't say this was a fabulous read, but it was a solid, enjoyable contemporary romance. I think I liked this one just a smidge more than the first book. I rated that one 4 / 5 stars, so I'd say this one is probably a 4.25.
Series Note: Second book in Roberts's “Bride Quartet” about a group of 4 best friends who run a wedding planning business together and who each find their own true love. Though this story is pretty independent, the characters are heavily intertwined and I think you really should read the books in order.
Summary: Ever since she was young, Emma has dreamed of finding true love. She even has a special moment all planned out, where she and her prince are dancing a waltz in the moonlight. But so far, she hasn't met her true love, though not for lack of trying. And though she's had a secret crush on her friend Jack Cooke, she's never considered acting on it. He's too good of a friend.
Emma has no idea that Jack has wanted her as well, and after years of ignoring it, the chemistry between them boils over. Despite knowing the pitfalls of friends getting involved, they do. Emma is quick to realize she loves Jack, but Jack has boundaries she's not sure she can get past. He never truly lets her in, and she'll have to find a way to break down his walls if she wants her dance in the moonlight with him.
Review: This book has a lot of similarities to the first book in the series, yet it doesn't feel like you are reading the same story over again. You actually get a flip in character nuances. In the first book, it's Mac (the heroine) who is commitment-phobic and Carter who wants forever. In this one, it's Emma who has dreams of love and forever and Jack who is afraid to love. It's a surprisingly different dynamic.
I admit the romance is rather predictable. I guessed early on how things were going to go between these two and I was right on all counts. So there aren't really any surprises. That's a bit of a negative, I guess. But I didn't really mind it because the characters, the setting, and the situation are so vibrant that you just really enjoy reading the story.
Emma and Jack have a sweet romance. I enjoyed reading about these two falling in love...or rather, realizing the loved each other after years of ignoring their desires for each other. You get a pretty classic, contemporary love story and sometimes that's just nice to read. It's not edgy or complicated or full of angst. It's just a sweet romance.
Which falls in line with what I said in my review from the first book. That this series is more old school, like Roberts's old Silhouette books than her recent romantic suspense-ish trilogies. These books are pure contemporary romance, all about the characters, their lives and the romance. There's no suspense issue at all. I didn't really mind, though. Romantic suspense may be my favorite romance genre, but I still enjoy reading contemporary romance.
And I always love the way Nora Roberts does a series. Unlike some authors who write series where the books are very separate and you don't feel the connection, Roberts does an amazing job of making a series cohesive. It's almost like reading 1 big book in different chunks. Throughout this book, you get snippets without characters. They are active participants and you get to see how happy Mac and Carter are together, and you get hints of what's to come for Laurel and Parker. There's just a really great sense of the friendship between these 4 women and I love that. I love books that tie in heavily together. It gives you a much greater connection to the characters.
I'm looking forward to reading the next book and finding out what happens between Laurel and Del. And I must say I'm super intrigued about what's to come in book 4, with cool, controlled Parker and bad boy Mal.(less)
I put off reading this series for quite a while, for several reasons...which is odd for me given my allegiance to Nora Roberts. But I did. Finally rea...moreI put off reading this series for quite a while, for several reasons...which is odd for me given my allegiance to Nora Roberts. But I did. Finally reading it though...and while I won't say I loved this book, it was enjoyable, as any NR book is.
Series Note: First book in the “Bride Quartet” which is about 4 best friends who run a wedding planning business and who each finally find their own true love.
Summary: Mackensie Elliot is the photographer at Vows, a wedding planning business run by herself and her 3 best friends. Despite her occupation and and being constantly surrounded by happy couples getting married in lavish weddings, Mac doesn't believe in happily ever after for herself. After watching her parents divorce, with her father nearly forgetting she existed and her mother being a self-absorbed bitch, Mac doesn't see how she could ever find true love and happiness.
Then she meets Carter Maguire, a nerdy, clumsy English teacher, who sets her world on edge. He's nothing she ever wanted, but everything she ever needed. Every time she starts to feel her walls crumble around him, though, something makes her panic and back away. Thankfully, Carter isn't about to let her run. He'll keep at her until she realizes her life is her own, not her parents, and she has every chance of finding her perfect match...in him.
Review: At first, I put off reading this series because I wanted to wait for all the books to be out so I could read them all together – which took like over a year. Then...I don't know...I guess you could say I was a little turned off by the theme of the series...with a group of four friends running a high end wedding planning business. To be honest, I'm not a fan of lavish weddings. Personally, I think it's a waste of money. I've got nothing against marriage, just spending so much money on it. So I wasn't all that anxious to read this series, despite the fact that it's by Nora Roberts and she is my romance yoda. I just kept putting off reading it. But I finally decided to give it a try.
Like I said above, I can't say I loved this book. It was good, but didn't necessarily have that special magic that many Nora books that I've read have. It was good, and enjoyable, sweet, romantic read, but nothing super fantastic.
For you Nora fans who haven't read this series yet, I think it's worth warning that this series isn't like her other trilogy/quartets. Especially her recent ones, which have been very plot driven with suspense aspects. This first book, and the series as a whole, I suspect, kind of take you back to Nora's Silhouette days of true blue romance. There's no overall suspense plot like the “Sign of Seven,” “Circle,” “In the Garden,” etc trilogies. This series is all about the characters, the characters' lives, and the romance. So if you are looking for something more those other series, you're not really going to get it in this one. But for you Nora fans who love all her books, or for those of you who like some true blue contemporary romance, then you'll find something worthwhile in this book/series.
I think one of the most interesting aspects of this book, and something not that unusual for Nora, is that she gives you an atypical hero, in a sense. Romance books these days are flooded with Alpha, dominant heroes. And there's nothing wrong with that. I love me and Alpha hero, but it is definitely nice to read something different once in a while. You get that with Carter Maguire in this book. He's nerdy, clumsy, oh-so-sweet and understanding, loyal to the bone, and just a bit Alpha when need be. In essence, the perfect guy ;)
Mac, on the other hand, is an out going, take charge kind of woman. She and Carter are just different enough that they mesh perfectly together. Their romance is sweet. It's not overly fraught with conflict but there's enough. And it all feels very realistic, like something you could really see happening. I enjoyed reading the two together. They're no where near as memorable as some of NR's couples, but I liked them.
Part of the conflict in the story deals with Mac's relationship with her mother, which is acrimonious, at best. Mac's been a doormat for her mom for a long time and parts of this book deal with how she has to finally learn to stand up for herself. Then how that translates into letting herself go when it comes to her relationship with Carter. It's a nice story aspect...not great or all that unique, but it gives the book some substance aside from the romance and wedding business stuff.
As for the wedding stuff of the story, it wasn't as annoying to read as I worried it might be. I still shook my head a few times at how over done the weddings were (fake though they were...people really do that stuff), but it didn't bug me like I worried it would. Mostly because the focus is on all the hard work the women do, and how they stick together and mesh as friends. It's a great bunch of characters and a bit heartwarming to read about 4 women who have been friends since childhood and remain best friends and business partners many years later.
And as with any romance book, one of the things that makes it worthwhile, is when you get to the end, read the finale page and sigh with pleasure at the HEA ending. Which I did with this book. It's sweet and lovely and it makes you smile. That's what romance books are all about. So the books wins on that front.
Still, it's not a favorite among all the NR books I've read (and I've read a ton). It's a bit too basic, with nothing really standing out and giving it that unique zing to make me love it. The story is good, the characters good, the romance good. But nothing is great. I expect something a little bit more from Nora Roberts. However, even a just averagely good NR book is better than a lot of other romance books out there.
I look forward to reading the next book in the series. I liked all the characters (the 4 friends) and can't wait to see how their stories play out.(less)
Solid 4-stars, maybe bordering on 4.5. This was just an all around solid book for me. There were two things that kept it from being a 5-star read, and...moreSolid 4-stars, maybe bordering on 4.5. This was just an all around solid book for me. There were two things that kept it from being a 5-star read, and neither of those were critical issues. But overall, I have to say I enjoyed this book a lot (and I'm trying not to be a biased Nora Roberts groupie when I say that).
Cooper Sullivan was just eleven years old when his parents sent him off to his grandparents farm in the Black Hills of South Dakota for the summer. For Coop, it was like being sent to prison and he hated it. But a talk with his grandmother convinces him to give it a chance so he does and befriends nine-year-old Lil Chance in the process. Over the years their friendship grows until, in their late teens, it becomes more. Lil thinks they are starting their future together, but after a while it all falls apart and they go their separate ways.
Now twelve years have passed. Lil has fulfilled her lifelong dream of opening a wildlife refuge and everything is going well for her. Then Coop, a retired detective, returns, this time for good. Coop broke her heart once and Lil is determined to not let him do it again. For Coop, seeing Lil is a painful reminder of the hardships of his life. The two come to an unintentional truce of leaving each other alone. But then danger threatens Lil. Someone is messing with her Refuge, pulling "pranks" and then killing a cougar.
Coop can't sit by while Lil is in danger, especially when it becomes clear that Lil is in real danger. He also realizes that it's time to clear things up between them personally. He loves her, always has, but now he has to regain her trust. And hope to keep her safe from a madman who loves the thrill of the hunt.
I've read quite a few comments already about hot the animal/nature aspect of the book didn't do anything for the reader...but for me, I loved that part of the story. Of course, I love nature and animals and all that. So it was interesting to read about the Refuge, how things worked, the animals, etc. And I loved the bond between Lil and Baby the cougar. So sweet. Especially how the ending worked out. Realistic? Probably not! But very interesting to read and a great way to resolve the suspense part of the story. All in all, this part of the story just worked for me.
I also liked how the beginning of the book was done. The story goes back to when Coop and Lil are kids and meet for the first time and progresses through some key scenes. Roberts has done "time progression" stories before (and I've always loved them), but this one is not quite as involved. The "flashback" part is only about 80 pages. So the past doesn't overwhelm the story. But I thought those first 80 pages were nice to read; gives you some great insight into the characters and the bond between them.
As for the relationship between Lil and Coop...I liked it, but I can't say I loved it. There was definitely chemistry between them and a strong bond, but there was something just a little bit off and I can't put my finger on it. The two were enjoyable to read overall, though. There were some really sweet scenes and I liked how Coop worked to show here he was back for good and that she could trust him.
There's also a secondary romance between Farley and Tansy. Enjoyable to read. Farley was a cool character. Very "aww schucks!" And Tansy was like his polar opposite. So their romance was interesting.
I have two somewhat minor complaints about the book:
First, the identity of the bad guy is reveals fairly early in the book and I found that rather annoying. It deadened the suspense angle somewhat and made things a bit less intense. It didn't really make sense to me why Roberts just flat out gave away the identity. I would have rather there been more of a guessing game, more trying to figure out who was trying to hurt Lil. So that took away a little bit from the book, for me.
And secondly - and this is may be more personal preference than anything else - I would have liked it if Coop had had to face his family issues within the present part of the story. There's some reference to Coop "coming to peace," so to speak, with the way things were, but to me, things between Coop and his parents felt rather unsettled. And because Coop's family dynamics played a role in what happened between him and Lil, it took a little away from their relationship (that unsettled feeling between Coop and his parents). So yeah, I wouldn't have minded something happening on that front.
Overall, though, this was a solid book from Roberts. I'm not sure it would qualify in my top ten of favorites, but it's definitely a book I wouldn't mind reading again in a year or so. It was fun to read, very nature-centered, with a nice romance, and a pretty good suspense angle. (less)
A helpful resource for Nora Roberts fans. There are a lot of extras, lots of random info. The family trees for the various family series are nice. The...moreA helpful resource for Nora Roberts fans. There are a lot of extras, lots of random info. The family trees for the various family series are nice. The one thing that could have been done better was the book section where all of Nora's books are listed - especially the summaries. They are mostly just one sentence long, which really tells you hardly anything. A little more there would have greatly improved the book area. But overall, a fairly good resource for those who are fanatics about Nora's books, or those who are just starting to read her books and don't know what's what. I hope in a few years there's an updated version.(less)