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The Return of Rafe MacKade by Nora Roberts
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Sep 29, 11

bookshelves: 4-star-books, historical-romance
Read from September 08 to 10, 2011

When I picked up THE RETURN OF RAFE MACKADE whilst browsing in my local library, I had no idea what to expect because I had never read any of Nora Roberts books before. Well, I picked a real winner! It’s a great story full of romance, passion, drama and humour, not to mention those delicious MacKade brothers.

Trouble is rare in the small town of Antietam, Maryland but, whenever there is trouble, the MacKade brothers, Jared, Rafe, Devin and Shane are sure to be in the middle of it. But bad boy of the bunch, hot-tempered Rafe, has been restless since his mother died and feels his life is stagnating in this small town. A fight with local drunk and wife-beater, Joe Dolin, makes him take a good long look at himself and he finally makes the decision to leave Antietam, determined to make something of himself:

He was going nowhere, he thought. Doing nothing. Being nothing.

Ten years have passed and the town is abuzz with the news that Rafe MacKade is back! Not only that but contrary to the town’s expectations, he is rich and successful with his own construction company. The dilapidated Barlow house, scene of a terrible tragedy during the Civil War, is said to be haunted but it has always held a fascination for Rafe since he was a boy. On his return he buys the property, intending to restore it, furnish it the way it looked in 1862 and run it as a bed and breakfast. When he meets newcomer, antiques dealer Regan Bishop, he is instantly attracted to her despite her prim exterior. Her offer to furnish the house for him provides Rafe with the perfect opportunity to get more intimately acquainted. Regan finds it hard to resist her attraction to Rafe and soon they embark on a no strings, no entanglements, no complications affair. But what happens if there are strings; there are entanglements; there are complications?

Ms Roberts really brought Rafe and Regan to life for me with her wonderful characterizations. When Rafe strides into Ed’s place, it’s easy to picture him in his worn flannel, torn jeans and scarred boots sporting a black leather bomber jacket. He is exactly my type of hero – sexy, arrogant, confident, strong and honest. Regan has strength and determination but hides it behind her prim exterior – all tailored blazer and tasteful jewellery. Her business is the most important thing in her life because it gives her total independence. She never wants to be totally dependent on anyone else, emotionally and financially, as her mother had been. Committed relationships are way down on her list of priorities.

Ms Roberts builds such amazing chemistry between Rafe and Regan with her sharp, witty dialogue and their scenes positively bristle with the sexual tension between them. Rafe is open and honest, knows what he wants and goes after it:

With a smile hovering around his mouth, he glanced down at her hands. She wore rings, pretty, glittery stones and twists of gold. “Any of those mean anything that’s going to get in my way.”

Regan, on the other hand, is in a dilemma because, although she wants to stay focused on her business, Rafe makes her feel off-balance and she’s not sure how to handle this unpredictable man. Ms Roberts sustains the tension between them brilliantly and the scene in which Regan finally succumbs has a nice twist to it.

The love scenes are sensual without being overly explicit and Ms Roberts’s words convey the mood perfectly whether the lovemaking is raw and urgent:

Wild, frantic, she clawed at him. Even as she felt herself falling, she tore and ripped his shirt.

or warm and tender:

Time spun out, stretched, quivered. The clock on the mantelpiece ticked the seconds away, and the minutes. But that was another world. Here there were only needs lazily satisfied, and hearts quietly lost.

One of my favourite elements in the book is the interaction between the brothers. Whatever they do or say, I always knew they loved each other and each one could count on the support of the others. I really enjoyed watching them taunt Rafe about Regan and my favourite scene is where Shane turns up at the Barlow house to rescue Rafe from being snowed in. Regan is there dressed only in one of Rafe’s shirts and Shane is constantly trying to take peek at her in the parlour:

Again he (Shane) inched forward, hopeful. “Maybe I should ask her.”
“One more step and they won’t find your body till spring.”
“If I win, can I keep her?” When Rafe snarled, Shane erupted with laughter. “Don’t hit me, I’m frozen. I’ll break.”
Muttering threats, Rafe grabbed Shane by the collar and dragged him down the hall. “Eyes front, MacKade.” In the kitchen, he found a thermos, filled it with coffee. “Now beat it.”


The sub-plot involving Joe Dolin and his abused wife, Cassie, plays an important part in this book because it has a direct impact on Rafe and Regan’s relationship at one point. It also shows how caring and compassionate Regan is when she offers to let Cassie and her children stay with her when Cassie finally leaves Joe. I was also touched by Rafe’s obvious protectiveness towards Cassie and how good he is with her children. I’m sure Joe Dolin will be around to cause further trouble particularly as Cassie is the heroine in Devin’s story.

The supernatural aspect adds an interesting element to the story but never overshadows the romance. The idea that Rafe and Regan’s tender feelings somehow have a calming effect on the ghosts in the house is really intriguing. Perhaps, when all the brothers find love, the ghosts will then be at peace. It will be interesting to see how Ms Roberts develops this aspect in the other books in the series.

A perfect blend of romance, memorable characters, an emotionally satisfying story and humour, THE RETURN OF RAFE MACKADE has everything to make it a must for all romance lovers. I can’t wait to follow the other MacKade brothers on their journeys to find true love.

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This review was originally written for The Romance Reviews (TRR)
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Reading Progress

09/08/2011 page 160
53.0% "My first Nora Roberts book Nx loving it so far."

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