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!

16 comments:

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!

Marcy

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!