Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Review: The Next Always

One thing is for sure, if she does nothing else, Nora Roberts writes characters you want to befriend, and settings you want to be a part of.

The Next Always is no different. And so the very fact that it's the start of a trilogy was a huge relief when I got to the end of the novel and realized I still had two more opportunities to "hang" with the Montgomery brothers and their obviously soon-to-be wives and girlfriends, Clare, Avery, and Hope. (Every genre has a formula and I've had Roberts' trilogy formula figured out for as long as I've been reading her --- But that sure hasn't stopped me from reading).

This novel (and series, really) is a special treat for any Roberts fan. Set in Boonsboro, Maryland (nearby Roberts' real-life residence), the Montgomery brothers are hard at work restoring an old hotel into its former glory, and with the help of their mother and some lady-friends, opening a beautiful and romantic Bed & Breakfast called the Inn BoonsBoro. It's a lot more than just a renovation story, though, as our characters encounter ghosts, danger, and of course, love.

The real treat, however, is that Boonsboro is very much a real place, and very much important to Nora Roberts, herself. The Inn BoonsBoro is also as real as it is beautiful, and the inn was rescued and restored by Nora and her husband. Equally as exciting to a Roberts' reader is that the town bookstore in the novel, Turn The Page,* is also a real bookstore owned by Roberts' husband. (Vesta Family Restaurant, the inn Gift Shop, the Creamery, etc. are all also real-life Boonsboro attractions mentioned at varying degrees throughout the story. The novel is a bit of an advertisement for the town, though Roberts claims that was never her intention).

The Inn BoonsBoro on the Square in Boonsboro, Maryland

So, not only do the readers get to indulge in another fun to read (albeit predictable) Nora Roberts trilogy, we also get to explore a bit of some of the other aspects of a favourite author's life. That, for me, makes it worth the read.

*I'd like to make it known that although "Turn the Page" and "Turning the Page" (as in the titles of the bookstore and my blog respectively) bear obvious similarities, I did not "steal" the idea from my favourite author, nor did she "steal" it from me. Simply a case of great minds thinking alike. That is all.

Recommendation: Avid Nora Roberts fans will love this novel. It has everything we have come to love and expect from a trilogy, but then so much more when you consider the close connection to Roberts' life. The characters are every bit as likeable, the town every bit as close-knit and enticing. I say we all read this novel then head to Boonsboro for a weekend at the Inn!

Up Next: The Gift by Cecelia Ahern

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Well, inside anyway. The grass is still green and the snow is virtually non-existent, but it's December, (tomorrow at least) and I think it's high time I start getting in the holiday spirit. I learned about The Gift shortly after Christmas last year, so I jotted down the title so I'd be sure to read it this holiday season. I've only ever read one Ahern title (no it wasn't PS I Love You -- There wouldn't be enough Kleenex in the world for me to read that). It was The Book of Tomorrow, and I quite enjoyed it. I'm hoping for more of the same from this seemingly magical novel about a man who learns life lessons around Christmastime. Sounds a little Christmas Carol-ish, and I don't mind one little bit.

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