Sunday, September 18, 2016

Review: The Obsession by Nora Roberts

Title: The Obsession
Author: Nora Roberts

Read copy: Paperback
Published: April 12, 2016
Publisher: Piatkus
ISBN: 0349407762
ISBN-13: 9780349407760

Naomi Carson is a survivor. As a child, her family was torn apart by a shocking crime. It could have destroyed her, but Naomi has grown up strong, with a passion for photography that has taken her all around the world.

Now, at last, she has decided to put down roots. The beautiful old house on Point Bluff needs work, but Naomi has new friends in town who are willing to help, including Xander Keaton—gorgeous, infuriating and determined to win her heart.

But as Naomi plans for the future, her past is catching up with her. Someone in town knows her terrifying secret—and won't let her forget it. As her new home is rocked by violence, Naomi must discover their identity, before it's too late.

My rating:

Well, this was Nora Roberts all the way. I love her stories with slightly damaged heroines whose jadedness makes them blind and stubborn as to what they truly want in life, what they truly deserve in life, and it takes the deceptively laid-back hero, that boy next door, often unassuming type, with the right combo of determination, humor, and male stubbornness, to make the heroine see reason. Of course, with just the right amount of suspense and mystery thrown into the mix to keep things interesting.
It sounds template-y, and it probably would be template-y in the hands of another author, but Ms Roberts knows the territory like the back of her hand, and is an expert at navigating it.

The Obsession is no different...Days before her twelfth birthday, Naomi Bowes discovered her father's dark secret, and she hasn't been the same since, her entire family hasn't been the same since. After rescuing her father's last victim, resulting in the man serving a life sentence, Naomi, her brother Mason, and their mother, relocated to live with her uncles, but sordid stories have a tendency to follow people around...So they moved again, legally changed their last name, but the story didn't "die", thanks to her father's penchant for attention, the book and movie written and filmed based on the story, and her mother's inability to get rid of her submissive personality...

Now, at twenty-nine, after half her life spent on the road with only her camera as a companion, Naomi has, to her utmost surprise, decided to settle down. She bought an old, sprawling house on the bluffs overlooking the ocean, close to a small village that, combined with the house and grounds, offers wonderful photo opportunities. She gets a dog (under severe coercion), starts renovating her house, and does her best to fend off Xander Keaton's determined onslaught on her heart.

But someone else has settled in the small town in Washington State. Someone who knows who Naomi is, whose blood runs in her veins, and he's determined to win the main prize in the game started years ago—Naomi's life.

The story pulled me on from the start, the narration depicting vivid images of the hot, humid night, the approaching storm, the exhilarating trek deep into the woods, the ruin of the house, the cellar door, the flash of a madman in the lightning...Then, it all slowed down, the story turned into narration of every day life first of a high school student, and then the grown woman with deep scars, who, despite her unwillingness to settle down, was doing just that...Naomi's new life in the little town on the coast of Washington State was rather mundane, ordinary, even, interspersed with humor, friendly contractors and their wives, the hilarious dog episodes, photo opportunities, encounters with the sexy, determined mechanic, the restoration of the house...But instead of slowing down the pace, of the story becoming boring and uneventful, there was an ominous feel to this "everyday life" Naomi was living. Like the calm before a storm, there was something brewing on the horizon, and the fact we got to see how peaceful she was, how calm, how relaxed she was, made the punch the suspense packed, although it came rather quickly and was resolved even quicker, quite potent.
Amazing writing, topped with vivid depictions, the innate sense of pacing, and great characters.

I loved Naomi with her stubbornness, her inability to accept herself for who she is and not for who she comes from, while having no such qualms with her younger brother. I want to read Mason's book next, this boy who took who he comes from by the horns, determined to help stop other people like his father.
And I loved Xander, this sexy, relaxed, normal boy next door with a stubborn streak a mile wide when he wants something, and determination to get it, but never at any cost, and his ability to see through Naomi's facade. He was steady, he was strong with even stronger ties to the community, ties he determinedly weaved around his woman until she had no choice but stick around. And he had no stomach for bullshit, calling her on it whenever it was needed. Loved the man.
The supporting cast was also, as always, great, never just on the sidelines, but smack in the middle of the story, their characters, relationships, and interactions complimenting the story and the leading cast, offering a buffer, and yet another layer to the complexity of the plot, and that ominous feel of the "every day life" narration.

I absolutely loved this book.

Favorite quotes (in order of appearance)

“Kevin Banner. He’s rehabbing the old Parkerson place up on Point Bluff for you. Best pals, birth to earth. Well, earth’s a ways off, unless you kill me with that tire iron, but we’ve known each other since before we could walk. You can call him, get my bona fides if it’ll loosen the grip you’ve got on that thing.”

“You want to pay me? Give me a slice of that pizza.”

“What? Seriously?”

“That’s Rinaldo’s pizza. I’ve got a weakness.”

“You want a slice of pizza?”

“It doesn’t seem like much to ask after I risked a concussion and possible brain damage to change your tire.”

“Don’t hate me.”

“Does anybody?”

“Kevin’s old high school girlfriend.”

“Because she’s a slut.”

Jenny beamed. “I didn’t realize you knew Candy.”

“What the hell are you doing?”

“What the hell does it look like I’m doing?”

“It looks like you’re putting pants on that dog.”

“Then that’s what the hell I’m doing.”

“Is there a system to the way you shelve the books?”

He glanced up. “Where they fit, why?”

“You have Jane Austen beside Stephen King.”

“I don’t think either one of them would mind, but if you do, you can move books around.”

She pulled open his refrigerator, took out a beer. When she spotted the opener, she popped the top, then to his shock, poured a good third of it down the sink.

“What? Why?”

“Tough hands, a beer, and Pride and Prejudice.” She set the beer on the table, framed it, moved it closer to the top right edge of the book.

“You didn’t have to pour it down the sink.”

“It needs to look like you’re drinking a beer and reading Austen.”

“I have a mouth, and a throat. We could have poured it in there.”

“I’d rather kiss you, but Xander’d pitch me over the deck.”

“I’d knock you unconscious first so it wouldn’t hurt so much.”

“I don’t have a motorcycle license.”

“You’re FBI.”

“Damn fucking straight.” Delighted, Mason swung a leg over, settled. “Now what the hell do I do?”

“Is that— Is Mason on your bike?”

“Yeah.” Xander sat on the steps with the dog.

“When did he learn to drive a motorcycle?”

“Pretty much now.”


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