“The Next Always”

Roberts, Nora.  The Next Always: Book One of the Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy.  Westminster: Penguin Books., 2011.  Print.

Borrowed from the Iowa City Public Library.

Read in between September 12 and 19, 2012.

Three and a half out of five stars.

Nora Roberts’s first book in the Inn Boonsboro Trilogy, The Next Always follows the development of the relationship between lead female protagonist Clare Brewster and her male counterpart Beckett Montgomery.  Beckett has been in love with Clare for years, however the two couldn’t be together due to extenuating circumstances (her high school sweetheart-turned-husband).  When Clare’s husband is killed in Iraq, she returns to her hometown in Maryland,  where the Montgomery brothers have taken on the job of renovating the Boonsboro Inn (which comes equipped with literary-themed suites such as the Titania and Oberon and Westley and Buttercup ).  The Next Always entertains readers through its cast of characters which includes Clare’s three rambunctious young sons, Beckett’s two handsome brothers Owen and Ryder, the fierce and protective Montgomery family matriarch Justine, and Clare’s quirky and loveable BFF Avery.  In addition to these characters, places in the book the Boonsboro Inn and Clare’s bookstore play prominent roles. Roberts writes in a candid and conversational tone with just enough sauciness to make the book a touch steamy, but not overly erotic or explicit.  It is both humorous and heartwarming, though at times bittersweet and nostalgic.  Although a bit predictable, fans of Nora Roberts will recognize her voice throughout the book, and Romance newcomers will appreciate the lighthearted novel that keeps readers guessing with its many sub-plot twists and obstacles (including a ghost and a stalker!).  The Next Always will satisfy readers who are looking for a romantic story with just enough heat to be interesting, but nothing too graphic or detailed.

 

As my first foray into the Romance genre, I chose to read a Nora Roberts book because I know how popular and prominent she is (with over 200 novels published), and because I assumed it would follow the traditional romance formula.  I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised.  It certainly wasn’t what I would consider a great literary work, nor was it deeply thought-provoking, but it was entertaining and served its purpose as being a mostly upbeat, heartwarming (though exceedingly predictable) tale.  Readers of Roberts’ work certainly won’t need any convincing to read this title, though in my reading of other reviews it may disappoint some of her more diehard fans.  I have nothing to which I can compare this book, though I will probably read the other two books in the series.

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