Thursday, July 21, 2011

Review: Blue Smoke by Nora Roberts

Title: Blue Smoke
Author: Nora Roberts

Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: January 1, 2006
Publisher: Piatkus Books
ISBN: 0749936665
ISBN-13: 9780749936662

The blaze that night at her family's pizzeria changed young Reena Hale's life. Neighbors and relatives would help the Hales rebuild. The Baltimore authorities would arrest the arsonist responsible. But as Reena beheld the fire's brutal beauty and destructive power, her destiny began to take shape. She would understand and master its terrible force-and one day become an investigator herself.

But she is not the only one fascinated by the flames. Someone else sees their power-and is obsessed not with conquering the fire but with controlling it, owning it, using it to exact vicious revenge . . .

When Reena finally joins the arson unit, her strength and wits are constantly tested-although sometimes the job seems like a snap compared to her love life. But she can't always blame the men-after all, a soot-caked woman barking orders and smelling of smoke isn't the biggest turn-on in the world. Then she meets Bo Goodnight, who seems different. He's been trying to find Reena for years, and now that she is close enough to touch, he has no intention of letting go.

Nor does the man who has begun to haunt Reena's life-with taunting phone calls and a string of horrifying crimes. And as Reena tries desperately to trace the origins-of the calls, the fires, the hatred aimed in her direction-she will step into the worst inferno she has ever faced.

My rating:

The rating probably reflects me having read Chasing Fire just before tackling this one. And let me tell you, the books, at least for me, are worlds apart.

First problem: the first half of the story. Completely redundant, IMO, I couldn’t care less for Reena’s life story spanning twenty years from the beginning of the novel until the story actually began. I couldn’t care less for her choices of boyfriends until the right man came along...
Second problem: the heroine. I simply couldn’t bring myself to like her. She was emotionally stumped, with no apparent reason why (I don’t deem the death of her first boyfriend reason enough, since no undying love-and-devotion confessions were exchanged). She had the worst taste in men, I didn’t like her approach to relationships, and she constantly jumped to (wrong) conclusions when the right man came along.
Third problem: the predictability. The villain was not a surprise, the whole thing wasn’t even suspenseful, so easy it was to spot. For someone as smart as she thought she was, the only surprise came from the heroine and her inability to figure it all out sooner.

The only redeeming quality for me was the hero—Bowen “Bo” Goodnight. He was hot, sexy, romantic, silly, endearing, protective, stubborn etc. And it was a pity he was wasted on this book. And there was too little of him, even when he started being the hero, to turn the “rating tide”.


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