Monday, June 19, 2006

Blue Smoke - Nora Roberts

In one of those odd little reading habits, while I’m a huge, huge fan of Nora Roberts writing as JD Robb, I hardly ever read the books she writes under her own name. However, the ideas in Blue Smoke intrigued me so much that I picked it up. I mean the heroine is an arson investigator—how often do you hear that as an female protagonist occupation?

I’m glad to say that the book didn’t disappoint. I loved it.

While Blue Smoke does have a romance, I wouldn’t qualify this book as a strict romance novel. In main, this book is about Catarina “Reena” Hale. We grow up with her - from childhood to her college days, through to her adult life. Bo Goodnight, the hero, doesn’t even make an appearance till at least a third of the way through the book.

But that’s not to say that the love story isn’t spectacular – Bo sees Reena one night at a college party and the music stops for him. He goes after her, but she’s already disappeared. She becomes his Dream Girl, their paths coming close to crossing several times over the years but not intersecting until…but if I told you, I’d spoil the surprise. I really thought the romance was great. Bo is just such a wonderful hero, it’s hard not to fall in love with him.

So there is a definite romance. But this book is also a mystery/thriller. Fire dogs Reena’s life from her childhood, burning away those she holds dear. Behind it all is a madman who hates her. While I didn’t think that this thread was too dark, from reading the reviews on Amazon, it appears that some people were shocked by it. So be warned—if you’re expecting warm and gentle, this isn’t the book for you. There is both darkness and violence in it. Maybe I wasn’t shocked because I read the JD Robb books—those can get pretty rough. And if you read a lot of thrillers, I'm sure you'll be safe.

One of the things I haven’t mentioned so far is Reena’s family—they are so Italian, so vibrant and so real that they constantly steal the show. NR takes you inside the family, turning them from mere names to several very individual personalities. By the end of the book, you really feel like these are people you’d love to know.

So all in all, a big thumbs up for Blue Smoke from me.


Cynthia E. Bagley said...

I keep looking at this book and deciding not to read it... I guess I gotta...

On another subject, I just read the newest Jayne Castle (JAK)... Wow it was good.

Nalini Singh said...

I liked it, Cynthia. Depends what you're expecting you know?

And was that JAK book Ghost Hunter? Wasn't it FANTASTIC!! I loved it (in case you couldn't tell from my gushing earlier). :)

Cynthia E. Bagley said...

Yes, it was Ghost Hunter... and yes, it was the best yet. She just gets better and better.

drooling at the book cover. :-)