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Nora Roberts – D. C. Detectives consists of Sacred Sins and Brazen Virtue. As you might guess it follows two homicide detectives in suspense (serial killers, naturally) and romance. It was published in the late 80s, which makes many aspects dated.

Bottom line: read only if working through all the Nora Roberts books.

In sacred sins there is suspense and romance. The suspense is surprisingly good; the romance so so. There is some violence,  no sexual assault. I liked the heroine and hero, though I thought the romance rather forced.  3 stars.

Brazen virtue  takes a nosedive from sacred sins. Ed, who in the first book is appealing and funny, becomes one dimensional and in some cases downright weird. Grace is very appealing – in every scene that isn’t a romantic one. There are a lot of pages on people who will die shortly, which I find annoying. The serial killer is revealed to the reader very early. Almost no character development. Very violent with serial killer point of view. No suspense. In short, 0 stars.

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There was a sale I couldn’t resist at a local bookstore, so I bought this (and quite a few more… šŸ˜• ).

Shelby’s husband has just died. And she discovers he left her up to her eyeballs in debt, that he lied to her about putting aside money for their daughter, that the jewelry he has given her is fake, and that he had passports under different names…Did the man she was married to even exist?

On the plus side, the characters were engaging, including all the parents, siblings, friends Ā and grandparents. The romance works and the story is gripping.

On the minus side, the villain was so obviousĀ even I figured it out about a third of the way through the book (and I’m usually surprised till the end!) and to hear the characters go “I wonder who can it be?” made me wonder if they were brain dead. In addition, I found this book similar to Hot Rocks (the first part of Remember When). Not enough to feel sorry I bought it, but enough to leave a slightly bitter aftertaste when finished reading.

So bottom line: 3.5 stars. Buy it on sale šŸ˜‰

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ā€œHalf full, half empty, what the hell difference does it make? If there’s something in the damn glass, drink it.ā€
ā€• Nora Roberts, Angels Fall

Sometimes people just over think things. If there’s something to do, do it. If something is, it is. No need to think about it so much šŸ™‚

What do you think?

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This is another Nora Roberts gem. The protagonists are interesting and likable, the love interests builds slowly enough that it’s believable, the murder mystery holds water (mostly). The pace could be a bit better – I found the build up of the suspense as to who the murderer was a bit too long, but that also depends on my mood šŸ™‚ . The secondary characters are interesting for their own sake. Also, the descriptions of life in Alaska are very interesting, and made me want to visit Alaska myself šŸ˜‰ 4.5 stars

Northern Lights. Taken from theguardian.com. Photograph: Daniel J Cox/Corbis

The only jarring note is Roberts’ attitude to psychiatric illness.Ā There was something similar in Angels Fall, but here it’s even more pronounced: “[Medicines] make me edgy or jumpy or out of myself. I can’t do the job on meds…” or “pills he’d stopped taking because they made him feel less of who he was than the depression or anxiety or insomnia“. It has now been my privilege to know four people who took psychiatric medicines, and I found the exact opposite was true: The anxiety and depression made them less themselves, and the medicine made them more themselves.Ā If your pills make you edgy or jumpy or out of yourself, you’ve got theĀ wrong medicine or the wrong dosage. If her characters pull out of depression because they fell in love or went on a trip alone they probably weren’t clinically depressed anymore, as depressed people are simply not capable of these actions. Like suggesting that someone suffering from double pneumonia should just apply willpower and get going right now to a warmer climate. First take the medicines and get better; then you can spend some convalescence time in the sun.

OK, rant done.

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Front CoverI’ve noticed that the further back I go, the less I like Nora Roberts.Ā There is a saying in Hebrew – “there is no one so wise as he who has experience”. While it isn’t always true, it certainly seems so in this case. When comparing this to gems like The Witness or the Chesapeake Blue series, I got the impression that she batted this story out in one evening while suffering from the flu. Song of the West was published in 1982 (gosh, I was two years old then!).

Where to start? The heroine is typical “passionate yet innocent” type. The hero made me want to knee him in the balls. Maybe 30 years ago it was considered romantic to catch hold, not let go when asked, say in a deep and masculine voice “I want you and I’ll have you” and leave, but I just found it annoying, intrusive, and creepy. Ā There was the obligatory damsel-in-distress scene. The barrier to true love was so artificial it was ridiculous – maybe instead of assuming idiocies you could, you know, ask? When the first actual meaningful conversation between the two happens in the next to last page (in order to solve all problems) it makes you wonder why they didn’t have the conversation before. In short, don’t waste your time. 0 stars.

* Older Nora Roberts books don’t seem to have violence at all, no swearing, and no explicit sex scenes. Again, it’s difficult to believe these books are all written by the same person.

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The Good:Ā Nora Roberts – Chesapeake Bay Saga

This is a series of four books. It started out as a trilogy and the fourth was added later. The trilogy, like many of Nora Roberts’ series, centers around a common goal. However, in this series it isn’t recovering lost treasure or saving the world from evil; it is saving one boy.

Ray & Stella Quinn couldn’t have children of their own, but they adopted three lost boys and saved them from horrific abuse: Cameron, Ethan and Peter. They raised these boys as their own, giving them the support and love they needed to get over their dark pasts and become their own people. Now Ray is alone after Stella passed away and their boys have scattered Ā – and Ray takes in another lost boy, Seth DeLauter. He starts adoption proceedings but dies suddenly in an auto accident. On his deathbed he gets his boys to promise: they will keep Seth no matter what.

Chesapeake Bay Saga

Chesapeake Bay Saga

The first book, Sea Swept, concentrates on Cameron, who races boats for a living. Or rather, he used to race boats, because now he can’t as he needs to move back to his hometown and raise his new ten-year-old brother. His relationship with Seth, his brothers, and the sexy social worker Anna provoke sympathetic winces, nods and outright laughter.

The second book, Rising Tides, is about Ethan. He must come to terms with his dark past in order to move forward with Grace, the woman he’s always wanted, and give support to Seth as he needs it. The relationship of all the brothers with Seth develops and becomes deeper and more solid. This book is at times heartbreaking and at times heartwarming, but never boring.

The third, Inner Harbour, is about Phillip, “the detail man”. He is torn between his old life and the new, and Seth’s old life and his new life. He is juggling two jobs and family, and now Sybill walks into his life. But can she be trusted?

The fourth, Chesapeake Blue, takes place twenty years later and focuses on Seth himself, now a world famous painter. While his past still haunts him, he has grown into a charming and intelligent (and of course handsome!) man. And then he meets Drucilla…

As opposed to the other series I’ve read where I had a favorite and a least favorite, I found each and every book in this series a gem. The romance was wonderful and moving. The characters are interesting and well built. The drama is poignant. And Seth is a treasure. For each one: 5 stars.

The Bad: Nora Roberts – Sweet Revenge

Sweet RevengeThis is yet another book that got great reviews and I found well below Nora Roberts’ standard. First, I found the whole story stretched my belief. I know life isn’t according to Nora Roberts, but some semblance of sense is still required. Next, I think a woman who really went through what Adrianne went through would need some serious therapy to work out her fear of men, and not just jump into bed with the first man who smiles at her (because she senses that Peter Chamberlain is different!). Third, she must be dumb as a plank to fall into the trap Peter set for her – and she wasn’t supposed to be. And last, this is stereotypical Islam bashing at its worst. When Nora Roberts shows us Evan Remington in “Dance on the Air”, you don’t assume that all rich people are wife beaters; but the way she portrays it here, all Muslims beat their wives and treat them like trash unless they are enlightened and move to the West. In short, ick. 0 stars.

The Duplicate: Nora Roberts – River’s End

River's EndIf you haven’t read Public Secrets, then this is an excellent read, with suspense and romance, spanning the life of the heroine. If you have, then it’s painfully predictable and pointless. The story isn’t exactly the same, but except for minor details the story is practically identical. So the joint review on Public Secrets and River’s End: 4 stars. But read it on an either/or basis.

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I’m a bit ambivalent on this series. On the plus side, the characters were interesting, the romances believable and lovely, the reading easy, flowing, with some heartbreaking moments and some laugh-out-loud ones. In short, my kind of light reading.

On the other hand, in these books it is stressed that a woman can’t be really, really happy without a man and a house full of children; and that the wedding day is critical and has to be perfect. I don’t know if it’s just me, or in general to non-Americans, but the whole wedding thing seems waaay over the top. It isn’t that important, people. The dress doesn’t have to “make you glow”, the flowers don’t have to match the flower girl’s bracelet and the MIL’s glasses, and I don’t think I even tasted my wedding cake (though after some descriptions here, I’m almost sorry about that šŸ™‚ ). So for me, it just didn’t hit the spot. Overall: 4 stars.

Vision in White: I really liked Mac, and Carter. I had to reread this a number of times to get it straight,Ā becauseĀ Carter is a nerd-type hero, who reminded me of Mac (male) in Heaven and Earth, and Mac isĀ theĀ name of the heroine in this book, so … šŸ˜• But still a nice story and introduces most of the characters for the future books (if you keep your eye open you can already tell who the couples will be in 2 and 3). 4 stars.

Bed of Roses: This was painfully predictable, and Emma is, to put it gently, bright as a plank. I pretty much wanted to slap her face and tell her to grow up already. Definitely the low point of the series. If you keep your eyes open, you definitely know who the couple is in 3, and have a good guess at 4.Ā 1 star.

Savour the Moment: This was sweet. I liked it very much, mostlyĀ becauseĀ I really liked Laurel. I didn’t connect so much to the heroĀ becauseĀ I don’t like the “I’ll do what you need not what you want” types. But Nora Roberts kept a balance here so it wasn’t bad, and there were some great scenes between the two of them that made me laugh and cry. Good book. 4.5 stars.

Happy Ever After: This was nice. It had some great moments and some great scenes, and I like the hero and Parker. However, despite the “opposites attract”Ā clichĆ©Ā I really don’t see them together that well after the book ends. I’m too realistic for these books šŸ˜‰ Still, great scenes. 4 stars.

* I linked each book separately because they’re cheaper that way, but if you want the box as well you can find the whole set here.

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I like looking up books in goodreadsĀ to get an idea ofĀ theĀ book – specifically violence, as I hate that – before reading it. And in many Nora Roberts books, I come upon reviews of people who are obviously ultra-religious, who claim that they read this book because they were forced to for a creative writing course. Their opinion of the books are uniformly bad, mostlyĀ becauseĀ of the sex and the swearing (“foul-mouthedĀ fornicators” is my currentĀ favouriteĀ epithet šŸ™‚ ). And it alwaysĀ amazesĀ me:

First, how many fundamentalists are being forced to read Nora Roberts against their will? For shame!

Second, why is it that they complain aboutĀ theĀ sex and the swearing, butĀ theyĀ never complain about the violence?

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