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!