For part of the month, I didn't know what I'd be reading. This Re-read challenge all started when I realized that it's been a while since I last re-read... well any of my keeper books from Jennifer Crusie, Nora Roberts, Katherine Stone, Judith McNaught, etc... all books that I've accumulated when I've started reading romance.
As a result, I've chosen Homeport by Nora Roberts, one of the very first romance books... that I've read in French. I've read this book for the first time... most probably before 2000... and since I've only started blogging in 2006, well yeah, I don't have a first review for it. So let's see how it fares almost 10 years later in its original language...
Homeport by Nora Roberts
first published by Putnam in January 1998 (hardcover format)
For Dr Miranda Jones - after having been mugged outside her own home in the USA - the summons to Italy, in order to authenticate a Renaissance bronze, comes as a welcome distraction. Unfortunately, that mugging was only the beginning of her troubles.
Genre: Contemporary romance/Romantic suspense
The Story: Okay, that's a very short synopsis out there ^_^; and since I don't have the hardcover version, I have no idea what the original synopsis was.
Basically, Dr Miranda Jones is one of the Jones from Jones Point, a little town in Maine. All her life, she has craved for love and acceptance from her parents which has led her to follow the family footsteps - art and history.
The story starts when Miranda is summoned in Florance by her mother, the director of Standjo, their art institute in Italy, to authenticate a bronze 'Dark Lady' that was found in a house and which could date to the Renaissance period - Miranda's area of expertise. When the story of the bronze is leaked to the press with fingers pointing at Miranda as the leak and and the bronze is taken away from Standjo and given to another institute for authentication, Miranda is sent back home in shame... Then, everything goes wrong when the other institute's analysis contradicts Miranda's conclusions. As a result, her reputation is in shreds and credibility is questioned.
Which is the reason why one night, Miranda is woken up by a threatening Ryan Boldari, a business associate. In addition to being a respected gallery owner in New York, Ryan is also an art thief... an almost retired art thief who was commissioned to steal a bronze 'David' from the Jones' art institute. However, after the whole debacle of the Dark Lady, even the person who commissioned Ryan for the theft has his doubt - after all, the stolen bronze was also authenticated by Miranda, so he had it analyzed... and it turned out to be a fake. Now Ryan has to tie up loose ends and request compensation from Miranda.
Both come to the conclusion that there has been a switch for the Dark Lady and David and therefore decide to team up in order to get the bronzes back... while fighting their attraction to each other.
My Opinion: This was one of my first Nora Roberts and I loved it the first time I read it... and I still love it now, perhaps even more now that I've read it in English LOL :) I have to admit that I have a fondness for cat burgler/art thief plot :)
So what do I love about this book? Basically everything :) I love Miranda and Ryan's chemistry and relationship :) They are so different and Ryan definitively makes Miranda happier. Miranda is a great heroine... strong, but at the same time, vulnerable. Ms Roberts did a great job at writing the different layers of Miranda. I also love her relationship with her older brother, Andrew. It's cute and touching, these two siblings clinging to each other while growing up in a cold and sterile environment, always seeking for love and acceptance from their parents.
Ryan is slick and smooth... and a real good guy :) I liked how he drew out a different side of Miranda and made her stronger and able to face her fears. He had great insight and a quick mind. I especially like his love for his family :)
Speaking of family, I have to say, family dynamics - whether they are happy or dysfunctional - are really one of Ms Roberts writing strengths. She is able to portray relationships in such a believable way, even though they are complex. This book is no exception. I liked the contrast shown between Ryan and Miranda's families.
In addition to love the characters, I enjoyed the plot as well. I thought the pacing was really interesting. Ms Roberts took her time setting up the story and didn't rush through thing... There are a lot of things going on, but it's well handled and everything ties in well. The whole story was interesting and got me hooked :)
If I have any complaint, it would be that I wished Andrew's story would be a bit more developed. However, it was still well written and handled :) I just like his character and wished to read more :)
I also have to admit though that knowing the ending - who the real culprit was, it did take away a bit of the excitment and punch at the end. In most books/romantic suspenses, this is not a problem for me... because the villain is just a villain to be caught... but in Homeport, the whole conspiracy is an attack at Miranda... it's all very personal and the ending was quite a surprise. So of course, knowing who did it, well you take away this surprise. Aside from this, my feelings towards Homeport didn't change. Homeport is definitively a great book and a winner. Rarely will a Nora Roberts' stand-alone book disappointed... and Homeport, to me, is a fine example of why Nora Roberts is the queen of romance :D
My Grade: On my first read, this was an A. Now, as a re-read, it's an A- because of that missing punch at the end... but still a great book :)