Catherine's Reviews > The Next Always

The Next Always by Nora Roberts
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Ah, it was nice to drop back into a world created by Nora Roberts. She has a gift with character creation and storytelling, and this book was no exception. Usually in Romance we find that it’s the heroine that has had a secret crush on the hero for quite a while. The author decided to flip the standard here and cast the hero as the one with the secret crush.

Beckett has been in love with Clare since high school. He’s a self assured guy who has never had a problem with the ladies—unless that lady is Clare. He is absolutely hopeless at being smooth with her. He hid his crush and never acted on it because she never really saw him. They weren’t even close friends. They were friendly, sure, but she was friendly with all of his brothers. Unfortunately for him, Clare was in love with someone else in high school and went on to marry him and move away. Fast forward quite a few years and a widowed Clare, with three kids, has moved back to her home town and opened a business. Beckett still never acts on his crush, but he hasn’t forgotten it. He has to remind himself daily that it doesn’t matter.

I found it absolutely adorable that Beckett was the one with the crush. He was such a sweetie! His brothers loved to razz him about it, but he took it in the good natured spirit it was meant and never became too sensitive about it. I felt a little sorry for him since everyone could see it but Clare, but he was able to eventually get it together enough to make a move. Beckett was quite a likable hero. I can’t say that he’s one of my favorite NR heroes—boy, can she write some delicious ones—but he certainly wasn’t hard to read about. ;) I really liked his friendly attitude toward Clare and her kids. Who can resist a guy that falls for the kids as well as the mom?

I thought it was very clever of Roberts to write a book centered on the construction of her real life business. One, there’s no need to spend extra time researching—she’s already an expert. Two, it is a great way to stir interest in the Inn. I, for one, couldn’t resist googling for more information when Beckett called a family meeting in the “Eve and Roarke” room. FYI, there really is one! Each room is modeled after a romantic couple in literature who got their HEA. How fitting that Eve and Roarke are in there. :) At times the time spent on the rehab slowed the book down, but I enjoyed the details for the most part. Plus, it provided a realistic way of Beckett’s family being able to hang around so much. And I wouldn’t have traded Beckett’s scenes with his brothers for the world. They were so funny!
"Told you not to tell her."

"That's not how I work things. That's not how you build a relationship."

"Build a relationship." Ryder snorted as he sent the drill whirling again. "You've been reading again."

"Blow me."

At times Clare could be a little frustrating, but I was able to understand and sympathize with her for the most part. I especially empathized with her difficulty leaning on Beckett after spending so much time running things in her marriage. I don’t know how well that reasoning will be received by someone who hasn’t spent any time close up with the military, but it struck a chord with me. I’ve known a lot of wives who have been changed in that exact way by the frequent deployments their husbands had to go on.

I’m not usually a fan of kids in my Romance, but Clare’s kids won me over. Maybe it’s because I saw so much of my own kids in them. The fighting, the superhero plates, the singing while they pee…it all hit close to home. I liked that they weren’t perfect little kids who existed in the story only to be precocious or wise beyond their years. They didn’t conveniently exit the stage when they weren’t being cute, either. Clare was a mom through and through and they were an integral part of the story and her burgeoning relationship with Beckett.

A (Semi) Brief Moment of Rambling:

I know that some people complain about Nora Roberts being formulaic, but that has never bothered me. I guess if the formula sucked it would be different, but it doesn’t so I don’t mind. Sure, I felt things were a little fresher with her older books, but I’ve been reading her since high school, so that’s to be expected. The fact that I still always look forward to seeing what unique spin Roberts will put on the characters and situations in the current book tells me that this author hasn’t gone stale for me.

With that said, I have struggled for years to figure out what felt different about Roberts’s present style. I still enjoy her books, but there has been some subtle change to it that has kept me from loving them the way I used to. Some people say it’s the formula, but I disagree. I think I’ve finally figured it out after reading this book. The characters and the way they think and act are still as awesome as ever, the dialogue is still dead on for the contemporary world (and funny to boot!), the setting is detailed and rich like usual, and the writing style is still the same. So what is it? Well, I think that things have gotten a little too close to real life.

The characters have become more and more reasonable and adult. If there’s a fight, it’s usually quickly resolved through well reasoned inner contemplation. The drama is close to nil because the characters are logical and they’re willing to try to work things out. And that’s great—to a point. Somehow, it has become so lifelike that it has edged out the magic and the intensity of the romance. That’s honestly the biggest complaint I have about this book and most of her other more recent offerings. The spark is gone and it’s because everything has become too reasonable and well balanced. The characters are steeped in their families and their work and the romance is no longer focused on as in depth as I prefer. It may be realistic—and kudos to the author for managing to do that—but it has lost some of the punch that I depended upon.

P.S. I almost forgot to mention that there’s a ghost in here. If you’ve read a lot of NR then you’re probably not surprised by this, but if you haven’t, heads up. :)

Favorite Quote:

Ryder sent Beckett a slow smile. “So, you’re hitting on Clare the Fair.”

“I’m not hitting on her. I’m exploring the possibility of seeing her on social terms.”

“He’s hitting on her,” Owen said around a mouthful of chips. “You’ve still got that thing you had for her back in high school. Are you still writing bad song lyrics about heartbreak?”

“Suck me. And they weren’t that bad.”

“Yeah, they were,” Ryder disagreed. “But at least now we don’t have to listen to you playing your keyboard and howling them down the hall.”


Review originally posted on Fiction Vixen.

*For a sneak peek, check out my Tempting Teaser on Fiction Vixen*
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Reading Progress

10/16/2011 page 40
12.35% "

Ryder scowled as she hurried out. "I don't like perfect. Because it never is, but you don't see the trouble until it's too late."

"I've always admired and envied your sunny optimism."

"Optimists never see the boot coming until it kicks their balls into their throat. Optimism is how a forty-three-year-old woman ends up with one kid in college and another in the oven."

"
10/16/2011 page 72
22.22% "

Ryder sent Beckett a slow smile. "So, you're hitting on Claire the Fair."

"I'm not hitting on her. I'm exploring the possibility of seeing her on social terms."

"He's hitting on her," Owen said around a mouthful of chips. "You've still got that thing you had for her back in high school. Are you still writing bad song lyrics about heartbreak?"

"Suck me. And they weren't that bad. [cont'd]

" 5 comments
10/17/2011 page 184
52.0% "As always, NR is doing a great job with the friend/family dynamic. These people and they way they talk to each other always feels real, like you could see it in today's world. Even Clare's kids are great. I laughed over so many little things that rang true for me. The fighting, the superhero plates, the singing while they pee... lol."
10/19/2011 page 221
63.0% "There's an Eve and Roarke room in the hotel. LOL, I love it!" 8 comments
10/19/2011 page 247
70.0% "

"Told you not to tell her."

"That's not how I work things. That's not how you build a relationship."

"Build a relationship." Ryder snorted as he sent the drill whirling again. "You've been reading again."

"Blow me."

"
03/24/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-23)




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Krista (I remember you, Min) (Critical) Ohhhhhh, I really want this to be good!


message 22: by Ceci (new)

Ceci So jealous!!! :D I just love Nora Roberts!! ;)


Catherine Krista (One Love) (Critical) wrote: "Ohhhhhh, I really want this to be good!"

I'm enjoying it so far. It's always so adorable when the guy has had a secret crush.


Catherine Ceci wrote: "So jealous!!! :D I just love Nora Roberts!! ;)"

Me too!


Krista (I remember you, Min) (Critical) Haha, aww. =) Sometimes her heroines scare me a bit, so it can be hit or miss, but ohh do I love her heroes!


Nicole Oh this book... I really liked parts of it and really hated others.... :(


Catherine Krista (One Love) (Critical) wrote: "Haha, aww. =) Sometimes her heroines scare me a bit, so it can be hit or miss, but ohh do I love her heroes!"

Claire seems to be one of her more mid-line heroines. At least so far that's how it seems. She's not one of the more mild ones, the ones who are jumpy and more apt to fade into the background because of past bad relationships. She's also not one of the more dominating ones who tend to fight to call the shots. She's just...Claire. Mom and friend and bookstore owner. :)

I agree about her heroes, by the way. She sure can write them. ;)


Catherine Nicole wrote: "Oh this book... I really liked parts of it and really hated others.... :("

Uh oh. Well, hopefully I'll drift more towards the "like" end of it.


Nicole I hope you do too!! :)


Catherine Rootless Tree (CJ) wrote: "Awesome!"

What's awesome?


CJ - It's only a Paper Moon Sorry, the Eve and Roarke suite :)


Catherine Rootless Tree (CJ) wrote: "Sorry, the Eve and Roarke suite :)"

Oh, duh. LOL. I thought it was a fun detail.


Krista (I remember you, Min) (Critical) Catherine wrote: "Krista (One Love) (Critical) wrote: "Haha, aww. =) Sometimes her heroines scare me a bit, so it can be hit or miss, but ohh do I love her heroes!"

Claire seems to be one of her more mid-line heroi..."


Oh wow! That's exciting. I don't think I've ever read a heroine of hers like that. Maybe she's finally switching things up a bit.


Catherine Krista (One Love) (Critical) wrote: "Oh wow! That's exciting. I don't think I've ever read a heroine of hers like that. Maybe she's finally switching things up a bit. "

She does have a hard time leaning on people, but I still didn't think it was overdone. You'll have to let me know if you agree or disagree whenever you end up reading it.


Melissa Catherine, I sometimes wonder if Nora Roberts doesn't really have three people inside her. I also feel there has been something missing lately.


Catherine Melissa wrote: "Catherine, I sometimes wonder if Nora Roberts doesn't really have three people inside her. I also feel there has been something missing lately."

I miss that spark I used to feel. :\


message 6: by Quinn (new)

Quinn Great review, Catherine. I was a disappointed by NR's latest trilogy, but you've just reminded me that it has been far too long since I've read one of her standalones. I love her writing.


Catherine Quinn wrote: "Great review, Catherine. I was a disappointed by NR's latest trilogy, but you've just reminded me that it has been far too long since I've read one of her standalones. I love her writing."

I really miss her old standalones. There were some awesome ones in there. This one is a trilogy, though, I believe.


message 4: by Quinn (last edited Nov 15, 2011 12:50AM) (new)

Quinn Oh. Oops. See, I'm totally not up with it!


Catherine Quinn wrote: "Oh. Oops. See, I'm totally not up with it!"

LOL


Juliana Philippa Great review and interesting rambling. I got turned onto NR late in my romance reading career, but once I caught up on most of the backlist I felt the same way about the more recent ones (i.e. Didn't love them).


Catherine Thanks! Do you think they've changed in the way I've mentioned? It frustrated me to not be able to put my finger on what was so different about them. Although I love characters who actually act like adults, I think I also need a bit of drama to add that fantastical, bigger than life edge to the relationship.


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