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REVIEW: Born in Death by JD Robb

Dear Ms. Robb:

This is the 27th entry into the JD Robb series which began in 1995. Eve Dallas and Roarke No Last Name are married and have been for a few years with no plans to add to their household. Mavis Freeman, Eve’s best friend, has conscripted Eve and Roarke into being her birth coaches. Both view this is a fate worst than death. This entry has some of the funniest lines from Roarke, particularly relating to his dislike for the whole birthing process.

Here I’ll insert my own birth class story. One of the things that they teach in birthing class is that the coach can give massages to help ease away the pain (this totally does not work in practice. No massage, unless it’s given with an epidural, ever takes away the pain). So Ned puts his hands around my neck to begin to give me a massage, only his giant thumbs starting squeezing my windpipe to the point that I say to him “You’re choking me.” Ned responds by laughing. I repeat, “No, really your choking me.” Ned “You think I’m joking you?” Me: “No, You Are CHOKING ME!” Ned: “Joking with you?” And just about the moment that I am going to lose consciousness we stop doing the neck massage. One more minute and I would have needed Eve Dallas.

Murder, fortunately, takes Eve away from sight of birthing mothers and their huge bellies and the constant blathering about babies. A young and promising accountant is found dead in her apartment, beaten and strangled. Shortly thereafter, her fiance is discovered to have been killed in a similar manner. These two people apparently knew too much and were silenced. Eve Dallas, however, speaks for the dead and is relentless in her pursuit of the killer(s).

Anyone who has read an Eve Dallas story will find the familiar. How you keep it fresh is to show Eve and Roarke butting heads, arguing and then making up. They are like us (like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are like us – richer and sexier) but all couples have problems and Eve and Roarke are not immune. Further, Eve’s job presents a serious obstacle to their marital happiness when Roarke is accused of a possible ethics violation. It strikes Roarke hard and places Eve in a bad situation. To complicate the situation a pregnant friend of Mavis’ goes missing, throwing Mavis and, thereby Eve, into an emotional maelstrom.

As always, there is a good police procedure story at the core. It’s a pleasure watch Eve Dallas unravel the mystery. The secondary focus is on Mavis’s pregnancy and Eve and Roarke’s terror of it. The banter is quite fun:

[ Leonardo] glanced in the direction of the restrooms, then back at Eve. "I’m terrified. I could pass out. What if I pass out?"

"Make sure you don’t land on me," Roarke told him.

and

"I’m going to drop them off at the entrance, then park." Roarke slid a glance toward Eve. "I’m not going to keep driving until I get to Mexico. I’ll be right along. My word."

"Just remember, if you’re not, I’ll hunt you down, disarticulate all your limbs, then feed them to small, ugly dogs."

"Noted."

The problems I find in the book is the contrived twist to the story which wasn’t much of a surprise; the redundancy in the give/take of Eve and Roarke’s relationship. I would like to see more giving by Eve, more softness from her in the relationship. After 11 years and 27 stories, surely she could grow a bit more and everything could be NOT about her all the time. I still gobbled the story up. B.

Best regards,

Jane

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

13 Comments

  1. Miki
    Feb 08, 2007 @ 20:35:15

    I would like to see more giving by Eve, more softness from her in the relationship. After 11 years and 27 stories, surely she could grow a bit more and everything could be NOT about her all the time.

    This is something I’ve been feeling the last couple of years. I think part of what makes it so difficult is that years have gone by for me, but only months (weeks, days?) for Eve.

    But I get so frustrated when she has to give herself yet another internal reminder that – sigh - being available when she didn’t want to be was just the cost of having friends. Would the women never once just think “Wow, it sure is good to see Nadine again!” But her constant internal kvetching just makes Eve sound incredibly selfish – even though her actions tell us she’s not, not, not.

    Oh, I’m still haunting my library until these books come out (I won’t buy them until they’re digitally available for PB prices). I still love to keep up with Eve and Roarke, Peabody and McNab. But I usually put down the books just a little sad that Eve wasn’t able to unbend a little more toward her husband and her friends.

  2. Robin
    Feb 09, 2007 @ 00:03:59

    I must be one of the few readers who doesn’t find Eve’s lack of emotional openness grating — after all, it’s been only two-plus years since she got into this whole mess with the human race. And I’m still kind of mad at Roarke for blackmailing her into moving in and getting married (but I digress).

    My problem with the series at this point is that it feels stagnant in other ways, specifically in terms of how so many of the secondary characters feel like chess pieces being moved around a very well-worn board. I can predict the scenes and the dialogue exchanges in many cases. It’s starting to feel stale, and not simply because Eve and Roarke are in a routine now.

    When I first started reading the series, it was finished through Portrait, and I still remember the exhilaration I felt with each passing book. I loved the way Roarke and Eve struggled with the traditional gender roles, and the whole secondary romance between McNab and Peabody. I still think their consummation scene was hotter than almost every love scene between Roarke and Eve. But somewhere between Imitation and Divided something changed (besides the price tag), and despite some strong entries (i.e. Survivor), the sparks generated in the books shine much less brightly for me now. I could barely muster the energy to care about Mavis’s baby (I listened to this one on CD to keep from obsessing over the copyediting problems, and it took me over a week to get through the audio).

  3. Tara Marie
    Feb 09, 2007 @ 05:07:34

    I would like to see more giving by Eve, more softness from her in the relationship. After 11 years and 27 stories, surely she could grow a bit more and everything could be NOT about her all the time.

    I felt this way after the first 10 or 12 books and gave up on the series. When I started reading some good reviews for this one I picked it up and was pleasantly surprised because during that time she has had more growth than I had expected. She’s still prickly, but her extremely hard edges have softened a little.

    We forget as readers that though it’s taken 11 years to reach 27 books, the time frame within the books is less than 3.

    My problem with the series at this point is that it feels stagnant in other ways, specifically in terms of how so many of the secondary characters feel like chess pieces being moved around a very well-worn board. I can predict the scenes and the dialogue exchanges in many cases. It’s starting to feel stale, and not simply because Eve and Roarke are in a routine now.

    This I can understand, I’ve not read 15 or so books and yet I didn’t feel like I missed anything. But I’m now thinking I must have missed something real interesting…I still think their consummation scene was hotter than almost every love scene between Roarke and Eve.–LOL.

  4. Tara Marie
    Feb 09, 2007 @ 05:09:44

    Crap, I think I forgot to close my italic

  5. Robin
    Feb 09, 2007 @ 11:01:19

    I’ve not read 15 or so books and yet I didn’t feel like I missed anything. But I’m now thinking I must have missed something real interesting-I still think their consummation scene was hotter than almost every love scene between Roarke and Eve.-LOL.

    It was in Loyalty, Tara Marie, and it was worth the price of the book. I think my favorite paperbacks are Naked, Glory, Vengeance, Holiday, Loyalty, Witness, Judgment, Purity, and Portrait.

  6. TheDean
    Feb 09, 2007 @ 13:19:33

    From The Dean’s Desk:

    The Dean is quite amused by your review, dear Jane, but whatever in the world gave you the idea that 11 years had passed. For readers, perhaps, but for Eve and Roarke approximately a year and a half have gone by. The Dean is much relieved that Eve is no longer beat to a bloody pulp by the end of the book, but why doesn’t Roarke ever need a haircut? The Dean is afraid that JD Robb has fallen victim to the Sue Grafton ficiton time management machine (althoug to be fair, JDR did make The Dean’s list for this very reason). More to the point would be to query why, since Eve is so absent midned about everything else, she somehow remembers to take her birth control pills.

    The Dean

  7. KayWebbHarrison
    Feb 09, 2007 @ 16:52:58

    It’s No First Name Roarke.

    I started reading the adventures of Eve Dallas when the first book came out in 1995, but I glommed the J.D. Robb books in mid-2006. I find the slow development of the main and secondary characters fascinating. This series presents captivating people in an interesting setting. I want Nadine to find her mate, just as Charles did with Louise; I think that Baxter or Webster (?) could match her. I want to know what is ahead for Officer Troy Trueheart. Will Eve learn more about her biological mother?

    I enjoyed just about everything about Birth in Death. Watching Eve cope with a baby shower, especially the preparations, was a hoot. Peabody is becoming a true working and social partner for Eve.

    Innocent in Death promises to make Eve deal once and for all with her problems with “why did Roarke choose me?”

  8. Holly
    Feb 09, 2007 @ 18:41:33

    I would like to see more giving by Eve, more softness from her in the relationship. After 11 years and 27 stories, surely she could grow a bit more and everything could be NOT about her all the time.

    I just read another review that said just the opposite. She hated that Eve had softened as much as she has.

    I don’t really care either way. Eve just cracks me up.

    I want to know what is ahead for Officer Troy Trueheart.

    Me too.

  9. Tara Marie
    Feb 09, 2007 @ 19:14:45

    Robin, I’m writing down “Loyalty in Death”–thanks.

  10. Michelle
    Feb 10, 2007 @ 15:09:58

    I love how Eve has changed and grown. I think the scene early in BID where she has a discussion or argument with Roarke is a perfect example. I really enjoyed BID.

  11. Dear Author.Com | Innocent in Death by J.D. Robb
    Mar 01, 2007 @ 04:06:03

    [...] left off the last book feeling vaguely unhappy with how little Eve seems to give in the relationship with Roarke. This [...]

  12. jcsspeaks
    Mar 17, 2007 @ 09:42:16

    I think Eve has grown. She is not the solitary woman she was in the beginning. She has learn to open herself to new relationships and deepen friendships. I think the point to some degree is that children who experience childhood trauma carry that with them. She has a fear of being weak, defenseless except around Roake.

    What bothers me about the books more so is the unnecessary use of curses invovling Jesus’ name. Surely, people have developed some new profanities, non-religious based, in this time period.

  13. Tehani
    Jul 09, 2009 @ 20:18:28

    To The Dean

    Jane said that eleven years have passed since the first book was published, not since in the series chronology. Additionally, I’m pretty sure that in Eve’s world, they have birth control implants, and Eve doesn’t have to remember to worry about it. Not sure where the idea of Eve being absent minded comes from either…

    I love this series, and continue to pick them up at the local library and bookstore frequently, regardless of whether I’ve read them before or not!

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