It’s -3* right now, so this seems like a good time to travel back to July in my mind…
(I wrote most of this post just before Christmas but didn’t finish it – a bit warmer now, a whopping 42*!!)
Her Mother’s Keeper by Nora Roberts – 3*
I was actually sick in July, so I went on a bit of a Nora Roberts binge, reading four of her books in pretty short order. What can I say? She’s a comfort author for me haha
Unfortunately, this was definitely one of her weaker stories – even 3* may be generous. Gwen is worried that her mother, who lives by herself in a large, rambling house in the bayou, is being taken in by her latest boarder. Gwen heads home to make sure her mother isn’t in trouble, believing that her mother and Luke are romantically involved, despite Luke being almost 20 years younger than Gwen’s mother, and despite Gwen having zero proof that this is happening. This misunderstanding drags through the entire book, when normal people would just have a five-minute conversation along the lines of, “Oh, you must be my mom’s boyfriend” “What? No, I’m not”. Like I get that we need conflict to make a story, but this conflict was so unbelievable that it made the whole story annoying. Plus, this is the somewhat-typical 80s romance where there is a lot of grabbing and kissing in lieu of actual conversation. All in all, this wasn’t terrible for a one-off read, especially if you’re running a fever and drifting in and out of sleep, but it’s not one I would particularly recommend.
Island of Flowers by Nora Roberts – 3.5*
Following the theme of “a simple conversation would solve a lot of problems,” in this one Laine is traveling to Hawaii to reconnect with her dad after years of not hearing from him. However, her dad’s business partner, Dillon, is convinced that Laine is just trying to get her dad’s money, so he pretty much treats her like garbage the entire time. Of course, it turns out that Laine’s dad actually had been sending Laine letters and money through the years, but Laine’s selfish mother (now deceased) never told Laine about any of it, which is where the “we could have a simple conversation” bit comes in. Dillon was definitely not the hero for me, as frankly he was an ass the entire time, one minute being all romancy and then the next minute accusing Laine of being a con-artist and treating her like trash. He’s the reason that this book wasn’t a win for me. However, Roberts’s descriptions of Hawaii were amazing and totally made me want to go there, despite the fact that I’m not really into beaches or warm weather (or flying), so there’s that.
Black Hills by Nora Roberts – 4*
This is a newer Roberts novel, and it really is interesting to me how much her work has matured over the years. This one is somewhat of a romantic suspense and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Lil has always loved her childhood home in South Dakota, and has fulfilled her dream of opening a large-cat wildlife sanctuary there. (Random, I know, but Roberts makes it work.) Growing up, her neighbors’ grandson, Cooper, used to come and stay with them, and the two of them were best friends, who fell in love in high school. But then Cooper OF COURSE broke her heart and headed off to The Big City to become a Hotshot Lawyer. Now he’s back because his grandparents are in poor health. Sparks fly between them, while at the same time someone seems intent on shutting down Lil’s sanctuary, as several instances of sabotage occur.
Overall, I did enjoy this one a lot. The whole sabotage storyline kept the pace up, and I did like Lil a lot. However, it’s been something like 12 years since Cooper broke her when she was 19, and it felt like she was really hanging onto the bitterness/suspicion way too long. I can understand not just like leaping into his arms, but at some point you need to move on. Cooper was also an uneven character – he starts off treating Lil like trash, then all of the sudden is like, “actually it’s because I’ve been in love with you forever!!!!!!” There’s also a secondary love story going on that I either wanted more of or less of, because while I totally shipped it, sometimes it just felt like filler wedged in here and there, and it felt clunky.
While this wasn’t my new favorite Roberts, it’s one I can see myself rereading, especially when I need to check South Dakota off my read-the-USA list!
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde – 4*
This is one of those classics that it feels like I should have read but never had. While I didn’t love it, I did find it engaging. My edition had notes about the differences between Wilde’s original book and the additions he made for a later edition, which was interesting. This one gave me the creeps in a good way.
The Girl on the Boat by P.G. Wodehouse – 4.5*
A reread for me, this isn’t my favorite Wodehouse, but it’s still a great deal of fun, as always. Billie is a bit of a flake, but there are plenty of ridiculous shenanigans and fabulous one-liners. Basically, if you enjoy Wodehouse, you’ll probably like this one as it is pretty typical fare.