All The Books I Can Read

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Review: The Next Always – Nora Roberts

on January 26, 2014

Next AlwaysThe Next Always (Book #1 of The Inn at Boonsboro Trilogy)
Nora Roberts
Piatkus Books
2011, 324p
Copy courtesy of Marg

The hotel in Boonsboro has stood for over 200 years but has been in need of some tender loving care for a long time. The three Montgomery brothers and their widowed mother have grand plans to inject life back into the majestic building and do it up in fine style. Oldest Ryder is the construction genius, middle son Owen the managerial mastermind and youngest Beckett is the architect, the one who comes up with the beautiful ideas to turn into reality.

Ever since he was 15, Beckett has had his eye on Clare Murphy but she married Clint Brewster and left town, following Clint around as the perfect military wife. Five years ago Clint was killed in Iraq and Clare returned to her hometown with her three boys where she now runs a bookstore. Beckett still has a thing for Clare but it isn’t until he shows her through the construction site at the Inn and she experiences the headiness of the strange scent of honeysuckle that she sees Beckett in a whole new light.

As Beckett and Clare take tentative steps towards something new, keeping in mind Clare’s three boys and all that comes with them, they are surrounded by the Inn and the fledgling mystery that lurks within. Beckett is easily accepting but Clare finds herself a little resentful. However even Beckett couldn’t begin to guess how much that presence would come to help them, especially when the woman he loves finds herself in danger.

Every so often I get myself in a flurry about reading books that have lurked on my shelf for a while. Marg from Adventures of an Intrepid Reader loaned me this a little while ago – probably two years ago now? I like Nora Roberts – I’m not a die-hard fan but I do enjoy most of her books and when I was looking for something to fit the bill for a lazy read on a rainy summer morning, this one seemed a pretty good choice.

For people reading this book, I’d advise them to go to the website for the Inn at Boonsboro (because it is a real thing and Nora Roberts owns it) and look at the pictures of the various rooms guests can stay in which are all named after couples from books (including Eve and Rourke from J.D Robb’s In Death series, who is of course, Nora Roberts). This book describes a lot of the rooms in detail and it’s pretty hard to imagine a lot of the visuals so the pictures for each room on the website are perfect to compliment that part of the story.

For me this was an interesting romance because there’s not really much in the way of conflict. Beckett has been crazy about Clare since they were in high school, even though she married one of his friends when they were very young and moved away and he didn’t see her for a few years. Her husband was killed when she was pregnant with their third child, her two eldest still being quite small. Before the book opens you get the feeling that their interactions have been very casual – Clare really has no idea that Beckett has feelings for her even though pretty much everyone else around her seems to. But once Clare and Beckett have the ‘moment’ where she realises that she’s attracted to him too, it’s a pretty easy slide from there into the beginnings of a relationship – a few false starts and they’re on their way. Beckett is very good with Clare’s children and slots easily into their lives. He’s always respectful of their position and he realises that they’re all a package deal. He is an easy-going type of person who is understanding when the kids mean that things don’t always go to plan.

I get the feeling that the couples are kind of just a way for Roberts to write a story about the Inn, which seems to be the primary motivation. This book is like a love story to reconstructing a building and everything that goes with it: picking furniture and fabrics and installing kitchens and copper tubs in bathrooms. It does sound interesting and I enjoy restoration lifestyle shows on TV but it doesn’t always translate well onto a page. The supernatural addition to the storyline was not really my sort of thing but it was inoffensive enough. I found the character of the widowed mother a bit annoying at times – she had all these ideas and basically just flapped her hands at the boys and said “make it happen dears” even though they were busy with the Inn. She’s quite the matriarch and they’re all too scared of her to tell her when they can’t do things because of time or worker restrictions so instead they all just sigh and somehow find a way. It was funny the first time but by the end it was like ok, maybe it’s time to man up and tell Mother to rein it in a little.

But all in all this was pretty much what I was looking for. It was an easy enough read, not taxing at all and the simplicity and lack of conflict was actually rather relaxing. I am not sure if I’ll read the next two in the series – I like one of the brothers more than the other but his story is book 3 so I suppose if I want to read that then I need to read the second one.


Book #22 of 2014

One response to “Review: The Next Always – Nora Roberts

  1. Lindsey says:

    Sounds interesting, I usually like Nora Roberts books so maybe I’ll give it a try. Thanks for the tip about checking the Inn’s website first. Great review! 🙂

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