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REVIEW: The Next Always by Nora Roberts

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,

Next Always	Nora RobertsThere’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


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Wednesday Midday Links: Plagiarism in Blogland

Wednesday Midday Links: Plagiarism in Blogland

Yesterday was hate on romance readers day. I actually read one of these a week, if not more frequently, and generally don’t share them because what is the point, right? It is culturally acceptable to repudiate the romance genre and romance readers. From columnist, Kimberly Sayer-Giles, we have the “romance as pornography” meme*; Russell Moore takes it even further by suggesting that Christian romance novels where the couple pray together are an invidious force against happy marriages. Even the New Yorker felt compelled to write about this nonsense.

Over at Faster Times, Joshua M Brown ridicules Amazon’s move into publishing “They are starting with romance novels, we are told, because they are cheap and the nitwits buyers of them consume product constantly”; and then there was this supremely insulting article written by Claudia Cornell for the Daily Mail that says all romance authors are old ladies with blue rinses, “All around me are middle-aged and elderly women in their pearls and support tights.”

The more that these articles pop up, the less interested I am in proliferating their messages by blogging and tweeting about them.  Sure, the romance as pornography gave rise to a funny #hashtag on twitter titled #romancekills but why be defensive about articles that are so stupidly written? Doesn’t acknowledging them and defending them actually give them credence and power?  Because does any rational person think that reading about a couple that is praying together is going to ruin someone’s marriage? Does any rational person think that the readers of this blog and other romance readers out there are mindless nitwits?  No, of course not.  These are such huge and stupid overreaches that I just shake my head at their banality, lack of originality and thought.  These people will never be convinced of the value of romance novels or romance readers.

Or at least this is my excuse for not blogging about these articles. I’d rather point out things like this sent to me by reader Sandy. Nora Roberts donates $100,000 to McDaniel College where they will start a romance writing minor.

In addition, the college plans to use the funds to help build a core American romance library collection, including the complete works of Roberts, as well as to establish an endowed fund to support the collection.

The collection’s titles will be available online.

The college will hold an international conference on romance novels in November, with keynote speaker Mary Bly, a Shakespearean scholar at Fordham University who also writes as Eloisa James, a best-selling author of historical romance novels.


Which brings me to this Salon article that asks whether reading great books makes you a better person.  Um, no. Everyone has the capacity to better themselves and some will find lessons through books and others through different mediums.  However, it’s an interesting theory:

There’s a theory, vaguely associated with evolutionary psychology, maintaining that fiction builds empathy, and therefore morality, by inviting us into the minds, hearts and experiences of others. This is what the British children’s book author Michael Morpurgo implied recently in the Observer newspaper, when he claimed that “developing in young children a love of poems and stories” might someday render the human-rights organization Amnesty International obsolete.


Some of the romance bloggers in our community were plagiarized by another well known member of the romance blogging community.  Wicked L Pixie and others found pieces of their reviews in this other blogger’s reviews.  The blogger had been notified several weeks ago but it wasn’t until Wicked Pixie went public that the blogger apologized and began to take down the offending reviews. It appears that there are so many of them that may contain plagiarized material that it is taking the blogger some time to rectify the situation.


In a tech headscratcher, 3M is investing heavily in digital books.  Last week they announced 3M Cloud Library, a software and delivery system for digital library books.  Now comes the news that they have bought a 25% share in Txtr, an ebook device manufacturer and the programmers behind the epub reading app, Txtr.  Nate thinks they are going to be a competitor to Overdrive. I would not have guessed that 3M, of all companies, would have entered the market of digital books.  I’m fascinated by this move and what it could mean, if anything.


Kristen Nelson is accusing publishers of underreporting ebook sales. I hope she has some evidence to back that up.

2. Publishers are under-reporting electronic book sales in any given period on the royalty statements we are seeing.

That’s a fact.

I would hope that Nelson starts auditing those publishers, then, on behalf of her authors.  Another author is suggesting that her ebook sales and that of others are also being underreported.

* Carolyn Jewel found this letter to the editor which is pretty close to the KLS article. See analysis by Sunita