Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Review: Carnal Innocence by Nora Roberts

Title: Carnal Innocence
Author: Nora Roberts

Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: March 27, 2012
Publisher: Bantam
ISBN: 034552909X
ISBN-13: 9780345529091

In the small town of Innocence, Mississippi, days are long, nights are fragrant, and secrets are hard to keep. But when a brutal killer starts claiming the lives of the town's most attractive women, lifelong neighbors are forced to wonder if the culprit is a stranger lurking in the bayou...or someone right next door.

World-famous concert violinist Caroline Waverly knows nothing of the murders when she arrives in Innocence. Burned out from a childhood lost to endless rehearsals and an all-too-public breakup with the conductor who was her lover, Caroline is looking for a little peace and some time to think. She hopes that a stay at her late grandmother's house--the one with a covered porch just made for soft summer nights—will provide the tranquillity she needs. But Innocence has something else to offer Caroline: a man named Tucker Longstreet.

Blessed with the Longstreet good looks, lazy charm, and family fortune, Tucker is a tall, cool drink of water—and he knows it. He likes to keep his romances short and shallow. But one look at Caroline, and Tucker realizes that she is unlike any other woman he's met. Tightly coiled and coolly reserved, Caroline is determined to fight him off. She might be able to do a better job if she hadn't felt an unexpected thrill at his ardent advances...and if she hadn't been so scared after finding a third murder victim in the murky waters behind her home.

For Caroline Waverly, a beautiful summer interlude could turn into much more—or could stir a killer's crazed dreams. Because there's just one small problem with her new romance: Tucker is the leading suspect in the killings.

My rating:

World renowned violinist Caroline Waverly has come to Innocence, Mississippi to recuperate, lick her wounds, and hide. But a small town, with its nosy inhabitants, isn’t an appropriate place to hide. Especially if that small town is home to Tucker Longstreet, the charming, affable, seductive and tenacious playboy that doesn’t take no for an answer...

But Innocence is plagued by a sick killer. His target so far had been three women rather generous with their affections...All three had one thing in common—Tucker Longstreet.

Despite its “age”, this was a great little read. Yes, there weren’t any cell-phones or e-mail, the FBI still used fax machines, and everybody smoked (which was a little bit annoying, to tell the truth), but it didn’t seem outdated, which pretty much comes down to the story’s appeal and the narrative ability of the author.
And yes, some have complained about the racial discrimination in it, but I believe such things are still very much present and alive in the small rural towns in the South.

The story was great, not a slow moment, despite its “laidback setting”, it flowed naturally, the pacing organic. I loved the vivid pictures Nora Roberts painted of the sleepy little town of Innocence and its inhabitants, where everybody knew everybody else’s business, gossip was abundant, and everybody was just so darn neighborly. The charming southern drawl was dripping off each page, and I loved every single minute of it.

The reader can easily “empathize” with the heroine, Caroline, the outsider in this small town, looking around with her eyes wide open in wonder at everything that goes on around her. And, just like Caroline, the reader slowly, yet surely, becomes accustomed to the atmosphere and the slower pace of the country...And cannot help but be charmed and seduced by Tucker Longstreet, the perfect hero for such a book.
He was just like his surroundings...Slow and easy, downright lazy when occasion called for it, but deep down, as with everything, there was a core of steel and determination, until the reader alongside Caroline, realizes the Tucker Longstreet he shows to the world is just a mask, a façade he presents, because it’s expected of him...And much easier to deal with.
The guy literally stole the show from the heroine, from the town, from the supporting cast, from the suspense, and from the villain.

Not to say, the rest was bad, far from it. Yes, I remained a bit aloof where the heroine was concerned, but I guess that’s my problem, but the rest of the cast was wonderful, especially Cousin Lulu (she was a hoot), alongside the setting creating a perfect backdrop for the story.
The suspense sub-plot was wonderful, intense, and gripping, keeping us wondering just who the villain is and what are his motives, offering us occasional suspects and red herrings, yet keeping that final reveal just out of our reach until the very end. Very suspenseful indeed.

The only problem I really had with this story was the annoying stick-in-the-mud FBI agent, and I missed one final scene with him having to admit how wrong he’s been...But, again, that’s just me.

Otherwise, this was a great story.


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