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review 2018-10-27 16:49
Murky dark
Carolina Moon - Nora Roberts

 

"So many," Tory whispered.

"All were sexual homicides. Raped and strangled. There was no semen. There was some physical violence, particularly in the facial area. That escalates with each victim."

"Because their faces aren't right. Their faces aren't hers. Hope's."

 

The main and underlining impetus for this story was the rape and murder of an eight year old girl who was the bestfriend of our heroine, Tory; pretty dark stuff. I couldn't help always having that in the back of my mind, even though the author kind of leaves the head on dealing with it until more toward the back end of the second half. 

 

You couldn't erase the past, or kill it, or wish it out of existence . Nor could you will away the present or change what was coming. We were all trapped in that cycle of time, just circling around the core of yesterdays. Sometimes those yesterdays were strong enough, willful enough, to suck you back no matter how hard you struggled.
 
This story is more of an ensemble piece with a secondary romance that I kind of wish got its own book and two handfuls of family and townspeople edging into the spotlight. This, along with the slow almost murky like way of the atmosphere of the story, kept the main couple's romance from being felt. Our hero Cade was the brother of Tory's bestfriend that was murdered and he never truly felt fully fleshed out for me. He comes on a bit stronger at the end but he kind of instantly goes for Tory (I love me some build up) and it ends up more of a willful strong arm relationship, Cade, at times, just telling Tory how it is going to be with Tory initially balking but eventually going along with him. I like a man who knows and shows what he wants but he immediately starts off this way and without the foundation for knowing Tory, it felt pushy and not too terribly romantic. 
 
"He frightens me, and embarrasses me. By trying to keep it contained, as always, I thought I'd limit the fear and humiliation. It's hateful to be a victim, Cade. Makes you feel exposed and angry and somehow guilty at the same time."
 
 
With the underlining murder mystery and the two romances, the bulk of this is family dynamics and oof, are there some doozies. Tory's father was physically abusive and with her psychic abilities (Tory can sense emotions from people so strongly she can "see" their thoughts) she can sense some other dark aspects of his personality. Cade's family has the emotional pain of losing a daughter and sibling, swirling around and tearing them apart. The two handfuls of secondary characters are indirectly and at times directly affected by these issues, which leads to some great real moments between characters. However, it also lead to some dragging issues in the middle.
 
I'm a Yankee, so sometimes when I read these books set in the south I don't quite jive with the beat or tones. There was a languidness, thick, humid, slowly fanning yourself on the porch while you sip iced tea, that I thought slowed the pace the down. Tory's life after her bestfriend was killed isn't really explained until more towards the end but it felt implied she moved back to her hometown to find out truly what happened, for such a big issue, it felt pushed too much too the side. There was also some trope role characters that the author did a good job breathing layers and complexity to, Cade's sister, but others that for a book published in 2000 were disappointingly locked in, Cade's family housekeeper/nanny. 
 
I know mysteries like, to well, keep the mystery going but when they stay to the side for so long, I think they end up feeling unknown or ineffectual. There are clues to who the murderer is but I wanted more insight into them, instead of one ending scene where thoughts and motivations are relayed concisely but quickly. 
 
I liked this, some great emotional complexities were weaved in out, but it was a little slow moving for me. The rape and murder of an eight year old girl is never easy to read about, so be prepared for that, along with physical violence.  If you're looking for an unhurried heavy on the family dynamics, mystery, with some romance, and love iced tea, this would be a well written option.  
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review 2018-10-11 19:40
A Solid Three
Carolina Moon - Nora Roberts

I dithered about the rating and thought about giving this book four stars. However, the romance between Tory and Cade didn't sit right with me (at least the initial stages of it--I can't take it in romance novels when the dude bullies the heroine into being with him) probably cause of the insta-lust on his side of things. The mystery aspect of the book was interesting, though how Roberts tried to work in Tory's ability to "see" things didn't really work for the most part of the book for me. Probably because I have read of too many cases about faux psychics for me to be really fall into the story the way that I should have. I do wish that Tory's character had been a bit better developed. I don't know how or why she got interested in selling high end jewelry and other items. Also Roberts skips over her New York years and she info-dumps on Cade about what happened to her there. I do think her burgeoning and then friendship with Faith was a highlight though.

 

"Carolina Moon" is a good book if you want to use it for several Halloween squares. I think this would fit "Terror in a Small Town", "Terrifying Women", "Romantic Suspense" and even "Southern Gothic." 

 

"Carolina Moon" follows Tory Bodeen. Tory ran away from her abusive father and emotionally absent mother as soon as she was able to. After something mysterious happens to her in New York that has her running from there, Tory returns to her hometown of Progress, South Carolina after a few years of building up her savings and working.  

 

Returning to Progress is an issue for Tory though. When she was 8 years old, her best friend, Hope Lavelle was found raped and murdered. Many people in town believe that Tory left Hope to her fate in order to get away from the man that ultimately killed her. Very few know that Tory has an ability to see visions of people and knew when Hope was being killed. Now that Tory is back in Progress, the murderer is intent on making sure that Tory will not be able to name them. On top of that, Tory starts a relationship with Hope's older brother, Cade.

 

As I said above, Tory as a character doesn't have a lot of there there until the middle and end of the book. We hear about how her father abused her. How her mother stood by and did nothing. We also know that she has a caring grandmother, aunt, uncle, and cousin. Besides Tory interacting with her grandmother and uncle though, it seems as if she is pretty adrift. When you read about what happened to her as a young girl and then when she went to New York though I sympathized. I just wish that she had more of a backbone when dealing with Cade. 


Speaking of Cade, I felt uneasy with the romance in this one. Maybe because the character bullies Tory into going out with him and then gets angry if she doesn't tell her what she is thinking and feeling all the time. Him going around calling her his woman made me roll my eyes too. I saw shades of Roarke in this character so maybe that's why he read as familiar to me while I was reading. And just like Tory, his character doesn't become more interesting until about the halfway point. You find out just how cold his family (specifically his mother was) was and is and how he had to go about proving himself constantly. His showdown with his mother was really good and I am surprised Roberts didn't try to have them fall into each other's arms and love each other. It was more realistic with how she wrote it. The romance scenes between him and Tory read similar to Eve and Roarke a few times. 


Faith and Wade are the second couple in this book and a few times I thought it would have worked better if they were our main couple. Faith doesn't put up with a lot from people, but she loves her brother. It was interesting to see how her life was affected by her twin sister's death and knowing her mother wished it had been her that died. Cade and Faith had some hot romance scenes, but not too many which would have gotten boring. 

 

There are secondary characters in this one, we have the local sheriff, the town mayor, Tory's uncle and aunt, her grandmother, Cade's mother, etc. Roberts does a good job drawing them out little by little, I just wish that we had gotten a better ending with this one. An epilogue would have worked nicely. 

 

The writing was typical Roberts. This was written back in 2000 though and at times the book appears dated. Roberts talks about two characters with one being a Republican and Democrat and it's quaint to see them as having fiery debates, but who are really good friends. Oh the days before Obama came along and divided the country (said sarcastically I just got into that the other day with someone who says Obama was a worse divider than Trump since we didn't have these problems in this country until he was elected). I did laugh at another line about something being as likely as being a liberal Republican. 

 

I also think that showing that the family housekeeper Lilah was essentially the real mother of Faith and Cade didn't sit well with me. Way too mammyish for me. She also has a little dialogue with Faith at one point about the murder girl allowing the man that rapes and murders her and it definitely sounded a bit victim blaming to me.

 

“Letting a man into your house doesn’t mean you want him to rape you.”

“Didn’t say so.” Lilah colored her lips, rubbed them together.

“Just saying a woman’s got to be careful. You open a door for a man, you better be ready to boot his ass right back out again.”

Or how about men don't come to a woman's house and rape them. 


The flow was uneven at first, but improves towards the end. Once the murderer starts killing and raping again the book turns fully into more a suspense book though.

 

As I already said, the ending wasn't what I think we should have ended with. It was quite abrupt and I felt like I was missing a few pages. 

 

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text 2018-10-10 21:20
Reading progress update: I've read 10%.
Carolina Moon - Nora Roberts

Strong beginning. We have Tory Bodeen who returns to her hometown (Progress, South Carolina) meaning to have a store that sells artisan crafts. Tory has dealt with a religious mother and an abusive father. She still manages to to want more though due to the influence of her grandmother. We find out quickly though that Tory has visions and has an ability to read/figure out where objects are. Her father called her an evil thing and tried to beat them out of her. Her young friend Hope is found murdered when they were young and Tori still dreams of her. Now that she has returned to Progress a lot of people seem to want her to move on rather quickly. 

 

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text 2018-10-08 19:32
Reading progress update: I've read 1%.
Carolina Moon - Nora Roberts

Hold.

 

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review 2017-06-24 16:44
Carolina Moon by Nora Roberts
Carolina Moon - Nora Roberts

On that fateful night so long ago, when eight-year-old Hope Lavelle died, Victoria "Tory" Bodeen should've been with her. But her father had beaten her because of her particular gift, Tory stayed at home, and someone raped and killed her best friend.
No one knew who did it, the town suspected a drifter, and the killer remained unpunished, as life went on...

Yet Tory hasn't been able to forget her friend or what's been done to her. They were blood sisters, connected by an unbreakable bond, and she feels it's time to finally put the past, and Hope to rest, by finding her killer. And the best place to start is back in her home town...


I watched the movie based on this book, and I must say it didn't to it justice. At all. Not in story, not in characterization, not in suspense.

This book is proof of what Nora Roberts does best. Expertly crafted story with wonderful characters. You have your prickly heroine, a deceptively laid-back hero, and a great supporting cast with the, as far as NR stories set in the South, requisite bitchy matriarch, and the "crazy" relative, usually and aunt.
But the cast itself isn't enough, one has to connect them all together, some in friendship, some in blood, some in reluctant alliances, passing acquaintances, and of course, romance.

This book has two of those, the main one between the prickly heroine and the deceptively laid-back hero, and the second between the hero's seemingly flighty sister, determined to defy mama at all cost, and the hero's best friend and the heroine's cousin, the town veterinarian who's been pining after his love-interest for years before she finally saw reason.
Strangely, I must confess I was more invested in the secondary romance than the main one, mostly because of the heroine's issues and prickliness (justified, I might add) not really doing the main romance any favors. I liked the hero well enough, and the heroine as well, I just didn't like them that much together. It felt a little forced, fatalistic, even.

There was one relationship Tory was in that I liked. And that was the slow-building friendship between her and her childhood best friend's twin sister, Faith. It was lovely seeing these two independent, closed-off women, both with their own inner scars and issues, circling each other, slowly forming the strong bonds of friendship, until becoming a unit toward the end.
The story came full circle in that particular moment.

Speaking of full-circle, I'm glad the villain got what they deserved in the one spot where it all became, but the finale felt a bit rushed. It felt rather anticlimactic compared to the buildup with its suspense and lurking danger.

Still, a very solid story, with a nice plot, good characters, a smidgen of "paranormal", and some wonderfully suspenseful moments.

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