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!
Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs
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