Sunday, February 5, 2012

There's Something About Nora!

I just finished reading Nora Roberts' latest - THE NEXT ALWAYS. Verdict? I LOVED it. Why? Now that's gonna be a little bit harder to explain.

THE NEXT ALWAYS is the story of Clare and Beckett - the first in a new Nora trilogy :) which is fabulous cos I'm hanging out for the next two. Clare's a widow and Beckett is a single guy who has had a crush on Clare since high school. Oh and Clare has three young boys to her dead husband. And that's about it in terms of conflict. Seriously - the BIG C that we all strive for, the BIG C that is the subject of many a romance writing conference, the BIG C that many of us have been reject for - is that she's been married before and he maybe feels a little bit like he's stepping on his dead school mate's toes.

That simple conflict is not even really developed to its full potential - at the beginning of the book, Clare is a little nervous but more than happy to move on. She doesn't think twice about accepting Beckett's advances and is simply overjoyed that she has it inside her to love again. I guess both characters do have growth - Claire has the learning to love again thing and Beckett realising that he wants the whole shebang that Claire brings with her - but none of this is very strong.

There's a bit of an external plot point that causes discomfort for these two but I wouldn't say it really threatens their relationship.

And this is what has got me flummoxed!!

I really enjoyed this book but the plot wasn't anything special or unique and there was definitely not a strong conflict, however I kept reading because I loved how the book made me feel. I loved the characters - Clare and Beckett, her three boys and the secondary characters which will soon have their own romance stories. I also loved the slight paranormal element - no, there weren't any vampires or witches or wear wolves, but there was a ghost in the building Beckett and his brothers are renovating. The ghost's story was beautifully done!

HOW does Nora sustain a book for 300+ pages with no real conflict, yet have me reading late into the night wanting to finish it?

Anyone got any answers? I'd love to hear them!


Louise Reynolds said...

Oh Rach, don't start me.
I have been a long time Nora fan but I reckon she had a golden age: Chesapeake Bay books, Born In trilogy, Three Sisters Island trilogy, etc. But for me, she's off the boil. And you nailed exactly what I thought. In this new series they are engaging characters going about their lives and falling in love. You can't help liking them - they're nice people. But there's no conflict. No possible reason for these two people to get together. Even the ghost agrees. So whilst I love her style and particularly how she draws male characters, this one was a thumbs down for me :-(

Louise Reynolds said...

Er, that's no possible reason NOT to get together...

Rachael Johns said...

I knew what you meant Lou - and I totally agree!! I took a while to decide if I DID actually like it and in the end it was because of Beckett and his brothers that I did. THEY saved the story in my opinion :)

Nicole said...

I totally agree. I loved Beckett and Clare. To me they were real, relatable people, which is why I didn't need ├╝ber, angsty conflict. I actually like reading about people on occasion who don't have horrible, scarred pasts. :)

Rachael Johns said...

Nicole - I agree with you. Sometimes it's nice to read about people who aren't all full of angst. But I wonder, could anyone OTHER than Nora get away with it??

Ally Blake said...

Ditto Rach!

Anita Joy said...

Rach, I haven't read this one, but I felt the same after reading #2 in her wedding planner series.

The hero had no conflict at all, but he was totally adorable and so I loved the book.

And to answer your question, I doubt anyone else but Nora could get away with it!

Janette Radevski said...

I love Nora. She is the queen of simplicity, and like you Rach, I read on cause I loved the way the book made me feel. And I agree with Nicole, Beckett and Clare are real people and that was enough for me. Why must a book always have the big C to be good? Isn't a little diversity or a break from the norm good?

I've read books with loads of conflict, but the characters irk me or they are so not real that it shites me.

So for me, I loved it and bring on book two!

Rachael Johns said...

Great minds think alike Ally :)

Anita - I found the same with the wedding planner series, but for some reason I really enjoyed them!

Janette - I have to agree. I actually prefer books where at least ONE character doesn't have a massive roadblock to having normal relationships.

Keziah Hill said...

I'm with Louise. I think she's off her boil. Much prefer her writing as JD Robb. This one and the wedding planner series were yawn inducing for me. That said, I did buy them!

Megan said...

I agree, there is something about Nora!! I've read a few of her books and she's great. I'd really like to read this one too.

Megan @ Storybook Love Affair

Anonymous said...

I felt the same way about Susan Wiggs' Dockside. Not a huge amount of conflict but the book made me feel the story, and I loved that feeling. It's hard to put into words, but I want that magical power!


Amy said...

I enjoyed the book but think her books are getting a little lack luster in plot and conflict. It is the characters that drove my desire to read this story. I enjoyed the male characters and getting their pov.

Finding out the Nora owns the particular Inn she is writing about has taken some of the magic out of the place.

I will read the other books as they come out but not for the conflict or plot, it is because I fell in love with the characters and want to read more about them.

Rachael Johns said...

Keziah - I STILL haven't read any JD Robb. Really must FIX that this year :)

Megan - I hope you enjoy it! Will be interesting to hear what you think!

Marcy - Dockside is on my TBR pile. Might shift it up a bit so I can contemplate this conflict thing again :)

Amy - I'm exactly like you. I'd do a Nora Roberts hero ANY day!!

Kez said...

Not only does she do great heros, I love the way she portrays the friendships between the group of women. They're a nice feel-good read for me.

Rachael Johns said...

Totally agree Kez - her characters are the best!