Family Saga, Romance, Suspense | 352 pages | 07.09.2019 | St. Martin’s Press
This novel had classic Nora Roberts elements but also new features I haven’t seen in (m)any of her books. For starters, it reads more like a family saga rather than her usual suspenseful romances. I really enjoyed getting to know her characters in this novel, how their lives are intertwined and how their todays were shaped by their yesterdays. Roberts, as usual, does an excellent job highlighting the intricacies of interpersonal relationships that range from quirky and fun to deeply bonded in good and in bad ways. The book also shines in its characters which are all well-developed, relatable, and real. In fact, the budding love interest between the two protagonists, Zane and Darby, seems normal and like true life. That also is a double-edged sword, because if you’re looking to leave reality and immerse yourself in a fairytale type romance (as many of Roberts’ books entail), you will be disappointed here. In fact, this novel has the potential for several triggers including domestic abuse, sexual misconduct/rape, and stalking; and thus does make for an uncomfortable read at times.
The reason I am deducting points is because this book is marketed as a suspenseful romance but it is lacking suspense (and the romance is a tad too casual, too much of a byproduct or side story). The unknown villainous figure tormenting the town of Lakeview is fairly predictable and not surprising. I have read other Roberts’ mysteries that really dug into the mind of the perpetrator and had me on the edge of my seat wanting to find out who did what. This one, unfortunately, did not. It made up for it, of course, by excellently showcasing family dynamics, community, and the need for belonging, and had me devouring the book because of that. In fact, would it had been advertised as such, it would’ve received 4 or 5 stars for sure.
Overall, if you’re looking for a book that dives deep into how past events influence what person you become and how a community deals with tragedy, this is the book for you.
I would like to thank the publisher, the author, and the lovely indie bookstore Scrawl Books for my advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.