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review 2018-06-11 16:43
Review: Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts
Shelter in Place - Nora Roberts

On July 22, 2005 three teenagers enter a small-town mall and open fire. The first nine-one-one caller is a sixteen-year-old girl who luckily went to the bathroom as one of her best friends is killed in the theater, while the second gets critically injured.
The second nine-one-one caller is a college student on break from his summer job at the mall's Italian restaurant who hides in the kiosk with the body of the girl he invited on a date and a four-year-old boy separated from his mother.

The rampage lasts only eight minutes, but it will impact many lives in the years to come. The college student will become a cop, searching for answers and justice, while the girl will go on pretending like nothing happened, until their meeting, thirteen years after the massacre will force her to look and to embrace the past...And her future.

But there's someone else embracing the past, fanning the flames of rage, and demanding vengeance for the "unjust" death of one of the shooters. Someone who orchestrated the assault, and is now targeting all those that survived it.

This book was a study in calm before the storm and the storm that follows said calm. But instead of only one storm, the story was comprised of many, with calms between them serving as perfect augmenters of suspense and anticipation.

The book starts with a traumatic, aggressive event, a very contemporary topic of a mass shooting in a very public place with many casualties. Friends, families, loved ones are dead, those that survive have to live their lives with scars—some with physical, but all with deep emotional and psychological ones.
And this story shows us how different people cope with the same event and its aftermath. Some choose to embrace the event, letting it hone them to be better, to find answers, look for justice...Some stick their head in the sand, refusing to acknowledge it even happened, alienating those that love them—until they're eventually forced to really look at what happened and finally process it, and maybe find some sort of peace and absolution from guilt.

It wouldn't have worked the way it did without the characters, of course, and Nora Roberts is a true master of character portrayal and development. The cast was a motley crew of individuals and different personalities, but it all worked, flowing together seamlessly, pushing the story forward, keeping the reader engaged, and eagerly awaiting what would happen next.
The romance, though rather rushed (in hindsight) worked for that very reason—I got to know the two characters before they were together, I became invested in them, and I could see and understand what drew them to each other and why they were, in the end, perfect together.
I loved both Simone (the usual NR heroine, flawed, scarred and with deep issues) and Reed (the typical NR hero, affable when he needed to be, but with a core of steel, a protective streak a mile wide, and a great sense of humor), but I must say Simone's a little psychic grandmother, CiCi, ended up being my favorite character of the bunch.

And let's not forget the villain. Unlike most NR novels, where the baddie isn't revealed until the very end, we got to "live" the story through the villain's eyes as well in this book. And let me tell you, those scenes with the vengeful sociopath as "main character" made for a pretty chilling reading, yet gifting us with a hefty dose of suspense and thrills.

This book was a perfect mix of great characters (even the bad ones), wonderful relationships, hot romance, and edge-of-your-seat suspense.

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review 2018-05-13 11:08
Sanctuary by Nora Roberts
Sanctuary - Nora Roberts

Famous photographer Jo Ellen Hathaway suffers a breakdown, when she receives a folder full of photographs of her and one of her mother, the mother who disappeared twenty years ago, leaving her family behind. But in the photo, her mother is young, just as Jo Ellen remembers her. She's also naked...And dead.
When Jo Ellen comes out of the hospital, the photo of her mother is gone, like it was never there, and she takes refuge on the island of Lost Desire, in her home, with her estranged family, in order to get back on her feet, thinking she'd be safe.

But evil has followed Jo Ellen. Evil hiding behind a photo camera and lens, determined to outdo its mentor, and create a better portrait of an angel in death, and Jo Ellen would make an excellent subject.

This is what Nora Roberts does best. We have a very dysfunctional and estranged family separated by grief and self-isolation—a father who, after his wife's abandonment, abandoned his own children, in spirit if not in body, the oldest brother determined never to let a woman close in order to protect his heart, the youngest sister who hides behind a mask of a self-centered airhead, and the older sister who keeps everybody and everything at arms length, never needing anybody because they might abandon her like her mother did, who, following the lowest point in her life, comes home and brings the family back together.
Then there's the requisite romance, done in the usual NR laid-back, subtle style (but since there are three siblings, we get three separate romance sub-plots. They're completely different from each other, depending entirely on the characters that "live them" and their personalities, but they're also so well-done, they don't encroach on either each other, or the main plot.
There's of course the plethora of main and secondary characters, each shining through in their own way, each bringing something to the plot, and their relationships, interactions and evolving storylines are always a pleasure to read.

And then there's the suspense, so deeply enmeshed into the main arc of the story, its presence is always palpable. The reader can feel the evil, the danger lurking in the sidelines, creeping closer and closer. The added sprinkling of mystery as to whether the hero is really what he looks like or if he's indeed the villain, adds to the suspense and intensity of the read, keeping the tempo and expectations high as the reader turns the pages faster and faster.
When the truth finally comes (in only the last chapter!), the resolution is almost anticlimactic, after the heightened suspense and intensity of the path that led to it. The motive and reasoning certainly were, since it turned out the villain was just plain crazy.

A great mix of suspense, intrigue, romance, angst, family drama, and wonderful characters.

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text 2018-03-13 22:01
Reading progress update: I've read 440 out of 440 pages.
Remember When - J.D. Robb,Nora Roberts

Rating for the "In Death" portion of the book: 5 stars


It was cool to go back and read this now that I have more familiarity with the characters in this series. I remember thinking at the time that I'd be interested in starting the Eve Dallas books. No idea why it took me 13 more years to do so.

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text 2018-03-12 02:46
Reading progress update: I've read 222 out of 440 pages.
Remember When - J.D. Robb,Nora Roberts

I've finished the Nora Roberts section, moving on to the J.D. Robb part.


I first read this back in 2003--bought it when it first came out--so it's like reading it again for the first time. Which is good.


I'll give the Nora novella 4 stars, even if it did suffer from a huge case of insta-love. The main couple were just so good together, and the Max, our hero, was pretty swoon-worthy. Our heroine, Laine, was pretty damn great, too. When faced with several situations in which she could make TSTL decisions, she didn't. Not once.

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text 2018-03-11 18:46
Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 440 pages.
Remember When - J.D. Robb,Nora Roberts

Re-reading this because the "In Death" section is next in line for me in that series. I'm also looking to use it for the Dark Tower crime scene card if I can finish it in time.

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