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REVIEW: Carnal Innocence by Nora Roberts

Dear Ms. Roberts:

Carnal InnocenceIf I were to rate my favorite books by my favorite authors, this would probably qualify. It’s full of classic Nora Roberts features: three dimensional characters, rich family relationships (albeit dysfunctional), and two believable individuals coming together to give each other comfort and love. Your books aren’t about the big and grand romantic gestures, but rather the small gestures that show inevitably that these two lovers belong together and regardless of what life throws them, they’ll be there for each other. Which is big and grand in its own way.

Caroline Waverly is a world class violinist. She had an emotional breakdown in the midst of a long tour and a messy breakup with her conductor-lover. She retreats to her grandparents’ house in Innocence, Miss, to recover. Unfortunately peace and quiet isn’t to be had because there is an attractive, naked, and murdered woman in her pond: Edda Lou Hatinger. Edda Lou had a very public spat with favorite son Tucker Longstreet just days earlier. She was looking for more than what Tucker ever offered to women: permanence. Edda Lou is the third mutilated female corpse in Innocence and thus an investigation is launched by a federal investigator. The town begins to look at one another with suspicion and none looks more guilty than Tucker Longstreet.

Tucker is the middle child of one of the founding families of Innocence, Miss. Like many families, the Longstreets have their share of skeletons. Tucker’s daddy was a mean, angry drunk who didn’t hesitate to turn against his children. Oldest son, Max, seems to be following in his father’s footsteps. Tucker tries to avoid conflict hence his inability to committ to any woman and youngest child and only girl, Josie, is a mess trying to find her father’s love in any man available.

When Tucker first meets Caro, he recognizes that she is something he has never encountered before. He’s intrigued and puts forth an effort to charm her. Of course, this is a bit of a novelty for Tucker as he does not put himself forth to do anything. He likes to lay in his hammock, pleasure women and have a nice cool drink now and again. Tucker’s pursuit of Caroline is pinched when Federal Agent Matthew Burns comes to town. It just happens to turn out that Burns loves Caroline like a thirteen year old loves the Hansons. He is a big FAN.

Caro is sick and recovering. She spent time in a hospital after her breakdown and she is at a crossroads. Does she go back to the limelight or does she stay and do . . . She just doesn’t really know. As any good northerner, however, she is seduced by the warm people of Innocence, of the slow way of getting things done, the magic of the small town of Innocence which was comprised of the good and the bad, just like any other town, and by Tucker.

But the story is more than just about Caro and Tuck. It’s about Caro and her mother. About Tuck and his dead father. About Tuck and his families. And about who’s killing all these women. The villian seems clear on a couple of occasions but I guessed wrong and the end was a real twist. In rereads it seems obvious now. I’m thankful your writing is prolific and consistently good as it has provided me with hours of enjoyment.

Best regards,


Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and 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


  1. Alison Kent
    Nov 13, 2006 @ 17:32:02

    My favorite Nora book ever. My favorite first line (that vicious green bitch). I remember the very bathtub I was in while reading it, sigh.

  2. Tara Marie
    Nov 13, 2006 @ 18:27:28

    I haven’t reread this in years, loaned it to my SILFH and haven’t seen it in years either, I may have to pick up a new copy. Hmmm, I think my hubby would like this one.

  3. Josie
    Nov 13, 2006 @ 18:36:17

    This is defintely one of my favourites too… I just adored Tucker. Good review Jane, I think I might pull this off the keeper shelf tonight for yet another read!

  4. Devonna
    Nov 13, 2006 @ 19:22:24

    This is a NR that I haven’t read yet ~ though it is on my wishlist. I just started reading Nora’s backlist this year so have lots of great reads ahead of me, I’m sure.

  5. Nicole
    Nov 13, 2006 @ 20:41:07

    Geez, I really need to read another Nora book. Angel Falls is still the only one.

  6. Keishon
    Nov 14, 2006 @ 00:20:24

    Enjoyed this one as well and the villian came out of nowhere. Excellent book.

  7. Rosie
    Nov 14, 2006 @ 02:48:41

    I remember this book fondly. First NR I loaned to my Mom. She became a fan after reading it until we were both buying the HCs. These reviews of older books does make one want to grab them off the shelf and kick the TBR to the curb.

  8. Sybil
    Nov 14, 2006 @ 10:18:46

    I have this… but it turned out to not be the first one by Nora Roberts I read. So after I finish the series I started with I will give this on a try.

  9. rose
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 13:12:24

    This was a really good one. The characters were so real, how could you not love Tucker. The killer turned out to be very surprising too!

  10. rose
    Feb 04, 2009 @ 20:25:29

    This is probably so old nobody will read it, but just in case, I was wondering if maybe Cy and Jim could make a cameo in onother book. It would be great if they showed up, maybe as big time lawyers. It would be great to see how Cy turned out. It is always fun when characters from other books show up.

  11. Servena
    Jul 23, 2011 @ 06:17:49

    I am forever indebetd to you for this information.

  12. Jishifruit
    Jun 23, 2012 @ 14:40:26

    Wasn’t Tuck’s older brother, named, Dwayne? :)
    I’m a big Nora Roberts fan too. 80% of my book shelf is an NR novel :D

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