Nora Roberts remains one of my go-to romance authors. Her books are mostly story with the romance being well woven into that story. Other romances I’ve tried seem to be sex focused, which I totally understand, but I’ve always liked how Roberts gives you more than you expect.
This book had a different structure than those I’ve read by her in the past. It was a lot longer than previous Roberts I’ve read too. This book follows Caitlyn Sullivan from her kidnapping at the age of ten, to her early adult years around age 18, to her adult years which I think was mid- to late-twenties if I remember correctly. She journeys through obstacles that ask her to redefine fear, family, and love, so that when she finally has a chance to be with the guy she should be with, she’s ready intellectually and emotionally.
I was surprised that there were very few sex scenes. In a book of this size I expected more, but as the first third was basically her as a ten year old, then the second half was her just out of high school, it stood to reason that you shouldn’t expect hot and heavy scenes until she’s a full fledged adult. Even in the last third of the book we only get two intimate moments, and she wrote such a hot, patient love interest that I could have stood a few more.
The MC comes from an acting dynasty and has a lot of privilege both financially and career-wise, and Roberts addresses that in the book through Caitlyn’s friendships. The first boy she dates is a black man in New York City when she moves there after high school, and he’s beaten on the order of one of her kidnappers who is serving time and using his connections to punish those who were involved with the botched kidnapping and ransom. It’s brief, but the complexity of racism in relationships and in the world at large was dealt with very well.
A theme I love to find in the books I read is the theme of found family, especially if it comes attached to the idea that just because someone gave birth to you, it doesn’t mean you are obligated to love them or even keep them in your life. Caitlyn’s mom Charlotte is constantly being an asshole in this book, and watching Caitlyn slowly let her go is something I really enjoyed.
I am not a big fan of pushy love interests, but Roberts wrote one of the most patient men I’ve ever read here. He’s just doing what he does and when Caitlyn returns to the house in Big Sur where she grew up, he’s already there helping her grandparents, who have connections with his mom and grandmother from when they helped Caitlyn get home safely after her kidnapping so many years prior. He’s also very close to his mom and grandmother, and they all run a ranch/farm/dairy business together and whenever they were all together my heart smiled. Unconventional family themes here too, just a little different but no less fulfilling.
The only area I was really disappointed with was the ending. The thriller side of the story just fizzled out. There was no satisfying punishment or evident resolution of the antagonist, we’re just asked to take for granted that they are dealt with because reasons? All the way up to the last 50 pages of the book you’re like “omg I wonder who is doing this to her (spoilers!) how are they managing it I need to know!” but when you find out who and how you’re going to be like “This feels too convenient” because it is.
Overall it was a heart-warming story/thriller about family, the costs of fame, and how to recover from betrayal. I really enjoyed it and read it in only a few sittings. You should read it too. Go get you some.