Entertaining romantic suspense (4 stars)
Source- personal copy
Published by Putnam Adult- April 2013
I listened to the audio book edition. The hardback is 484 pages.
Boston Lawyer Eli Landon has just experienced the worst year of his life. Recently cleared of murdering his estranged wife, Lindsay, his reputation now lies in tatters and his soul is broken. Dismissed from his job, he heads to the one place of sanctuary he has always been able to rely on- Bluff House, the beautiful, old home of his grandmother, Hester, which stands right on the beach.
Pretty and vibrant Abra Walsh has been looking after Bluff House whilst Hester is recuperating from a bad fall and it soon becomes apparent that she wants to take care of Eli, too- much to his chagrin. In between her bouts of extreme cooking and cleaning, Eli soon comes to rely on her and even begins to return to himself- determined to finally uncover the truth about Lindsay’s murder and finally clear his name once and for all …
This was such an easy-to-listen-to audio book and one of the strongest Nora Roberts I have experienced in a while with an appealing mix of mystery, romance and murder. After all, who can resist a treasure hunt and the lure of pirate’s loot? A short time ago I listened to The Search, from the same author which whilst entertaining enough, read like something of a doggy training instruction manual (really) which grew somewhat tiring and I was actually keen to get to the end. I also didn’t buy into the romantic elements so much. This one however was much more about its relationship between the two protagonists and had a real story to it as well, which I appreciated. It did have a lot of description and detail, though I think that’s something you tend to notice more when you are listening to it in audio book format anyway, whereas when reading a physical copy you can gloss over it if you want to and not lose too much of the essence of the story.
From the start this was a very atmospheric piece of fiction- admittedly there was nothing ground-breaking about it and it was somewhat predictable in places, but for escapist purposes it worked well- at least for me. I really enjoy books that are set by the ocean and I think Bluff House and its surroundings were conveyed beautifully. I could almost hear the crashing waves and smell the tang of the salt water. It made me want to go right there and walk by the sea. For those reasons, I think this would work quite well as an audio book to listen to whilst on holiday- just to imbue a bit of extra atmosphere. However, it has to be said that again, Roberts is covering themes done in previous novels in this one; for once I would love to read something a bit more original and different from her, as aspects of this reminded me of parts of other series by her I’ve experienced over the years. Or maybe I’ve just read far too much Nora Roberts!
I loved the connection between Abra and Eli, too (I just adore the name Abra as well!). Right from the start of the book he was intrigued by her and she had the ability to get directly under his skin, both infuriating him and unknowingly drawing him to her even more. Likewise, Eli’s stubbornness annoyed Abra and he continually tried to push her away, though she was able to resist his efforts. Abra isn’t conventionally beautiful like Eli’s late wife was, but there is just something about her that attracts him. As well as this, she is portrayed as a genuinely nice, caring person and loves Eli’s beloved grandmother just as much as he does- she did annoy me at times however and comes across as pretty pushy and also a person who tends to overreact on occasion. She is also very much a person who tries to ‘fix’ everything, including people, despite how much they try to resist, with a sense of dogged determination. Eli if I’m honest, sounded a bit of a typical Nora Roberts hero- handsome and smart, but there was a bit more to him deep down, given that he was suspected of murder and had a troubled marriage, so had some quite complex facets to his character.
It’s hard for me to say if this book was pacey or not, given that I presumably would have whizzed through it in book format and I couldn’t here for obvious reasons, but it did seem to pass by at a fairly reasonable pace and had some strong moments of tension and drama in it, which I appreciated. The romance was sweetly written and quite slow-burning too. There’s nothing worse than reading a romance novel where the relationship develops so quickly at a rate as to be unbelievable, is there?
Prior to this one however, I listened to a very, very good audio book, so admittedly whatever I picked up next was going to be a tad weaker in comparison. Also, the narrator in that one was just exceptional and in Whiskey Beach, though the narration by Peter Berkrot was decent it just wasn’t up to quite the same high standards. I also find it a bit strange when male narrators try to do female voices- and always have done, which was again the case here! However, apparently there has been another edition of this released with a brand new male narrator as there were complaints about the original. I wouldn’t exactly say this is complaint-worthy, though as I haven’t listened to the newer edition, I can’t really comment. Ironically, Peter Berkrot is also narrating my new audio book- The Last Policeman, which I am listening to currently, and again I have no complaints.
I’d recommend this novel, either in its audio book format or in its physical format to fans of Nora Roberts or other contemporary romantic fiction. It was a great, escapist way to pass my walks to work and workouts in the gym and its suspense element was also really appealing- making it just a cut above the other regular romantic reads I’ve experienced as of late. There is also of course- as with all Nora Roberts books- that guaranteed happily ever after.