jenjn79's Reviews > Blue Smoke

Blue Smoke by Nora Roberts
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Mar 26, 08

bookshelves: genre-romance-suspense, reviewed, favs-reread, author-nora-roberts, 2005, format-hardcover, stars-4
Read in December, 2005

** spoiler alert ** Like many others have said about this book, I think it's one of the best Nora Roberts has written in years. It's a nice, solid story all around with a great suspense angle, a wonderful romance, and fantastic characters. True, there are some negatives, but it's still a great book.

NR did a perfect job with the first section of the book with young Reena. I thought she portrayed Reena's thoughts, actions, words, etc just right. You really got a sense of the young girl in those early chapters, and could see how her life was being shaped and affected by the fire at her family's restaurant. It was such an excellent setup for the rest of the story.

The progression through time is a great dynamic. NR has done that in a few other stories, and I always enjoy it when she does. It gives the characters and situations so much more depth. In this case, you get to witness the various crucial events in Reena's life that continue to push her in a certain direction. The romance with Josh was lovely and tragic, and fitting to the story. Add into all that the hit-and-miss thing between Reena and Bo. That was such a great aspect. So close, but never quite meeting. And I loved Bo's fascination with Dream Girl.

When you finally reach the current setting of the book (2005), everything has been perfectly setup with core building blocks. The characters are well-developed, the scenarios wonderfully plotted, and the romance poised the break loose. It takes almost a 180 pages to get to that point - 180 pages till the male and female leads meet for the first time - but you hardly notice it because the previous chapters are so well-crafted and interesting.

Again, like many others have said about this book, I also felt that Reena should have been suspicious much more early on in the book. With the chain of bad things happening around her, and what she witnessed as a child, I just would have expected her to think a little harder about all those unfortunate "coincidences". Reena is supposed to be such an intelligent, instinctual person that it just seems off that she never has a clue what's going on until it's made patently obvious to her. That didn't quite work for me. Even when she does have a clue, it takes her even longer to figure out the who, how and why; when it seemed rather obvious.

On a related note, one of the things I didn't quite care for with this book was that NR made it so ridiculously obvious who the bad guy was. There's absolutely no doubt who he is, or actually who he is going to be, from very, very early in the book. I never even developed any suspicions elsewhere throughout the entire story. I always knew just who was causing the trouble. (which is probably why it seemed to strange that Reena took so long to figure it out). It takes away a little bit of the suspense of the story to know who is behind everything. It would have added a nice element if NR had made it a little less obvious, or at least given us an alternative suspect.

Aside from all that, the plot was well-done and nicely paced. It really keeps you hooked in the story and on the edge of your seat wanting to know what is going to happen next. The romance was wonderful as well. I loved Bo and Reena together. The whole "fated" aspect between them was fabulous. The set of almost meetings over thirteen years was just great. And I loved their first actual meeting. NR's portrayal of Bo in that scene was hilarious. And once they were together, they had good chemistry. I enjoyed them together, and I liked how they had a more traditional romance instead of one full of angst between them. And lastly, I loved the family dynamic in the book. Reena had the ultimate ideal of the perfect family. It made me envious. They were all such great characters with nicely developed relationships. I enjoyed reading about them. I have one small complaint that I wish NR had written an epilogue that wasn't so immediate, something that didn't have such an underlying sad-vibe like the last chapter did because of all that had happened and O'Donnell's death. But that's just me, I like endings that are on the fluffier side of things.

Overall, Blue Smoke is a great read with one or two flaws that could have been improved upon. I liked it even more the second time I read it, but it still doesn't compare to my two NR favs Public Secrets and Honest Illusions.
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