REVIEW: The Next Always by Nora Roberts
Meet the Montgomery brothers – Beckett, Ryder, and Owen – as they bring an intimate bed-and-breakfast to life in their hometown.
The historic hotel in Boonsboro, Maryland, has endured war and peace, the changing of hands, and even rumored hauntings. Now it’s getting a major face lift from the Montgomery brothers and their eccentric mother. As the architect of the family, Beckett’s social life consists mostly of talking shop over pizza and beer. But there’s another project he’s got his eye on: the girl he’s been waiting to kiss since he was sixteen…
Dear Ms. Roberts,
There’s a great story here buried underneath all the inn refurbishment stuff. Seriously, if I wanted to learn how to rehab a historic inn, I’d go back and read these parts carefully but, here’s the important part, I’m reading this as a romance, not a blueprint how-to. And since I know that you and your husband recently rehabed a historic inn in, guess where?, Boonsboro, Maryland, I felt uncomfortable that this is one big sell for you – write a book, hawk your inn and maybe get some customer reservations from it. It isn’t just the Inn, but also the bookstore, and and every Boonsboro reference that seems to read like one giant, but beautiful, infomercial.
I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed a lot of your contemporary romances and as I said, there are parts of this story which are great vintage Roberts. The relationships of the two sets of brothers – the hero and his potential hero brothers plus the three young sons of this heroine – are wonderful. The book has that easy, comfortable and insulting in that casual way that among men says “I love ya bro” way about it. It’s also got a realistic heroine who occasionally has babysitting issues and has to work around the boys and their schedule. A working mother of young sons who doesn’t have this, who miraculously always has enough sleep, the laundry folded and never worries about coverage for potential dates would make me think she’s a space alien. I really enjoyed watching Beckett and Clare fall in love. They’ve got pasts, lives outside of the romance and ties to the community. They seem like real people.
I usually hate it when I feel that book one is all about the set up of the characters for the next two books – which is the stated goal of this series. Here, it’s annoying me to some degree but the characters are still mainly here to play a role in this book.
I didn’t much care for the subplot with Clare’s stalker. A bit of him to shift Beckett closer to declaring himself is okay but the whole thing went from annoying to psychotic in a heartbeat. And the warning from Lizzie is just bizarre. Sorry but it’s truly bizarre.
Beckett’s “Men Nights” with the boys and his manly gifts to them are funny and touching. Also that he kept his promise to talk things over with Harry before asking Clare to marry him. See there are parts of the book that are fabulous, that are simply effortlessly good. And then more inn stuff would come along which would send me into FF mode.
It’s a fast read, especially when I’m basically skimming most of the stuff about the inn, but there was way too much of that. And yes, I noted the reference to Eve and Roarke. The romance part gets a B but the information brochure about the Inn Boonsboro got old very quickly. Overall grade C