Every time I go into a Nora Roberts book, I expect to not be very surprised. And this isn’t exactly fair of me, because while yes, we’re talking romance novels here and the romance genre certainly has a huge list of common tropes, this does not mean Ms. Roberts is necessarily going to use them.
Let me give you an example with Tribute. The instant the heroine’s ex-husband showed up, I expected him to be a bastard and/or to get a rivalry going for her affections with the guy she was obviously interested in. I also expected there to be Angst and Grief Oh Noez(TM) involved in why she was no longer married to said ex-husband. None of these things were the case, and this was delightfully refreshing. The ex-husband is in fact a fairly admirable guy and it’s a bit of a shame that he’s on camera for the comparatively small amount of time he is.
And that’s just one thing I liked about this book overall. Okay, yeah, fine, we’re also dealing with the common trope here of Heroine Moves into Small Town and Takes Over Abandoned Family Home, and Then Falls In Love With Next-Door Neighbor. We’ve all been there done that. But this time around, I gotta say, the next door neighbor was so very much right up my alley that I adored practically every sentence that came out of his mouth. The man is a graphic novelist, and very, very clearly a geek. I don’t know if Ms. Roberts is herself geekily inclined, but if she isn’t, she’s got access to people who are, because she did a fabulous job portraying her geek hero. I actually squeed when the heroine tried to throw him a line about love being like kryptonite to Superman, and he started trying to debate what kind of kryptonite. AND! He owned both classic and new Battlestar Galactica on DVD.
I liked as well that our heroine Cilla, a former child star, is taking on the new career of redesigning houses–and that she does a lot of the physical labor herself. This makes her a very cool contrast to Ford, who, while not scrawny, does not have any particular skill at construction. It’s very cool to see her be the dominant one in a skill one would consider traditionally “masculine”, and to see him not be threatened by that in the slightest.
Someone is, of course, out to get Cilla–someone who apparently takes very unkindly to her efforts to restore her grandmother’s house and to dig up old family history. So there’s some good suspense here too, playing off against the developing love story between Cilla and Ford. It’s a lesser degree of suspenseful tension than you typically get in a JD Robb novel, but that’s okay; this is a less violent scenario, at least up until the very end.
All in all a fun read. Four stars.