Sunday, November 01, 2009

Re-Read: Naked, Reunion and Portrait in Death by J.D. Robb

Here is my re-read challenge entry :D

When I saw Kristie's comment on the Re-Read Challenge post, I was all surprised and wondered which 4 books she read! I mean, 4 re-reads and she reviewed them all! Then, I followed the link and found out which books she re-read... and all I could do was grinned because we basically did the same thing this month! :D Granted, I read 3 instead of 4 In Death books, but really... Also, what are the odds that out of 30-somethings books, we would read the same ones?!? :D

So here we go:

Naked in Death
published by Berkley in July 1995

Writing as J.D. Robb, Nora Roberts has won new fans with her futuristic series of romantic crime novels. New York police lieutenant Eve Dallas gets involved with Roarke, a suspect in her latest murder case. But passion and seduction have rules all their own...

Genre: Romantic Suspense/futuristic
Series: In Death, Book #1

The Story: In Naked in Death, readers are introduced to Eve Dallas, a female lieutenant in the NYPD. She's dedicated to her job, serving and protecting as well as elucidating homicides and her work is her life. After 10 years on the force, she knows that you cannot save them all - that all you can do is your best... but sometimes, your best is not enough and you can't help but feel the loss and grief.

After a brutal case that ends up with termination, Eve is supposed to go through Testing. Instead, she catches a high profile case - the murder of a senator's granddaughter who also happened to be a licensed companion. However, what's worrisome is the note that comes with the body: One of Six.

During the course of her investigation, one name that keeps turning up is Roarke, the mysterious magnate. Even though she still hasn't cleared him from her suspect list and despite knowing better, Eve can't fight the compelling attraction and ends up getting involved with him...

My Opinion: Like Kristie said, this is the book that started it all. Unless you're new to the community, you must have heard about the In Death series. It's impossible not to. The only question is have you caved and tried it or not?

I've read all of the books and I have to admit that coming back to the beginning is... wow. LOL :) You can see how far the series has gone. Some things have not changed, but Eve's entourage has for sure. It is bizarre to see only a few characters... As fans of the series, you're so used to seeing Peabody, McNab and a slew of secondary characters... but in Naked in Death, it's all kept to a minimum. I have to wonder though if Ms Roberts always intended Charles Monroe to become a recurring character... or he was supposed to be a one-time shot. I mean, kind of weird that Charles would be introduced before Peabody no? :D

Naked in Death is a great book and a great start to the series. I think Ms Roberts did a great job balancing everything: the characters, the world building, the case and the action. You can help but fall under Roarke's charm :) To see such a powerful figure be smitten and besotted, LOL, it's cute :D Also, you can't help but feel respect for Eve. She's the woman you want on your side, in your clan. To her, all that matters is you. Not your past, not the authority, nothing. She'll fight for you even though you've been in the wrong. Definitively someone that deserves respect and admiration and in a way, it's evident why Roarke fell for her.

The case was very interesting and quite provoking I think. It was also perfect to introduce this new world in my opinion and was cleverly used to impart world-building information to the readers. As a result, the world building was done seamlessly... Very clever by Ms Roberts and proof of good writing.

If I have a complaint, it'd be that I did think that the case wrapped up very quickly at the end. There was a catalyst event and then, it snow-balled and everything happened very fast. Although I don't think it took away from the impact of the book.

I don't exactly remember how I felt the first time I read it, but hey, I did go on and read the other books right? So must have been a good feeling :D

My Grade: I'd say B+/A-. It's hard to be objective, knowing what comes next. I think this was a very solid book, a great first book to open the series. Was it my favorite? No. But do I think it's special? Yes, because it'll always be the first book :D

Reunion in Death
published by Berkley in March 2002

At exactly 7:30 P.M., Walter Pettibone arrived home to find more than a hundred friends and family shouting, "Surprise!" It was his birthday. Although he had known about the planned event for weeks, the real surprise was yet to come. At 8:45 P.M., a woman with emerald eyes and red hair handed him a glass of champagne. One sip of birthday bubbly, and he was dead.

The woman's name is Julie Dockport. No one at the party knew who she was. But Detective Eve Dallas remembers her all too well. Eve was personally responsible for Julie's incarceration nearly ten years ago. And now, let out on good behavior, she still has nothing but bad intentions. It appears she wants to meet Dallas again - in a reunion neither will forget...
Genre: Romantic suspense/futuristic
Series: In Death, Book #16 (counting novellas in anthologies)

The Story: In Reunion in Death, Eve is pitted against an old enemy, Julianna Dunn - a woman Eve helped arrest almost 10 years ago. Julianna was released on good behavior and has revived her old M.O. - killing rich, middle-aged man with a drink peppered with cyanide. However, she's no longer after the money... This time, it's a game of wit against Eve Dallas, the female cop who put her behind bars... and the ultimate prize is to take away the life of Eve's husband.

My Opinion: Quite frankly, Reunion in Death will forever hold a special place for me, because it was the first In Death book I've read in English! Ah the joy!! See, I originally discovered the In Death books in French... and in French, they don't bother putting Ms Roberts' pseudonym, J.D. Robb, on the cover. So I kept looking for Ms Roberts In Death books in the romance section under Nora Roberts and just couldn't find them!! No, I never thought of looking in the mystery section - hey, I was still a newbie at the time! Then, one day, I was in a convenience store and stumbled across Reunion in Death. Read the synopsis, thought it sounded a bit familiar and finally realized what it was! Hallelujah! LOL :)

Reunion in Death is definitively an interesting read. I think it showcases very well why Ms Roberts is such a popular author. It's not just the story and the writing, but mainly, it's all about her characters and their dynamics. It's just fun to see Eve's interaction with her entourage. The way she reacts every times Peabody alludes to her sex life with McNab, LOL :) Or how she's uncomfortable meeting Peabody's parents. Eve's entourage is larger now, but it doesn't mean she's become a people's person. She still the socially inept cop we met at the beginning. Of course, some of her priorities have shifted and her life has changed, but at the core, I'd say Eve Dallas is still the same woman, the same cop than at the beginning. The woman might have matured and grown, but her values and personality haven't.

Seeing Eve and Roarke celebrate their one-year marriage anniversary was sweet. It's also rewarding, because we see Eve and Roarke working so hard at marriage. It's no like most romance where we see the H/H fall in love, get their HEA. No, in the In Death series, we get to witness Eve and Roarke WIP marriage :D One of the best moment is when Roarke gives her two gift and she's all like: "Two gifts? Shit, I only have one! Nobody told me it's two gifts!" LOL.

The case itself is interesting. It didn't take long for Eve to realize who the murderer was... but figuring out the motives and catching up to her did... and I think that's one of the most interesting part in the In Death series. The work these people do seems very real. Legwork, interviewing witnesses, knocking on neighbors' doors. It seems to me all this normal work is often forgone in regular romantic suspense... because we don't have time for it. Authors are too busy developing their characters and relationships to focus on it. Also seeing Eve's mind figure things out is really a beautiful process :P

I'd say this one is worth a re-read. It's a great bland of everything that makes this series a success: an interesting case, good humor and good relationship.

My Grade: A-.

Portrait in Death
published by Berkley in March 2003

After a tip from a reporter, Eve Dallas finds the body of a young woman in a Dumpster on Delancey Street. Just hours before, the news station had mysteriously received a portfolio of professional portraits of the woman. The photos seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary for any pretty young woman starting a modeling career. Except she asn,t a model. And the photos were taken after she had been murdered.

Now Eve i on the trail of a killer who's a perfectionist and an artist. He carefully observes and records his victim's every move. And he has a mission: to own every beautiful young woman's innocence, to capture their youth and vitality - in one fateful shot...
Genre: Romantic Suspense/futuristic
Series: In Death, Book #18 (including novellas in anthologies)

The Story: The blurb is a bit misleading in my opinion. It's not women only, but men as well. Those who seem to shine, have a vitality around them.

So this time, Eve is pitted against a killer that murders students to take picture of them, to capture their light eternally. While Eve is chasing the murderer, Roarke makes a discovery about his past that rocks his world... and for the first time in their marriage, pushes Eve away.

My Opinion: Many readers like this one because of what happens to Roarke... for the first time, we get a shaken Roarke - not just from his discovery but also Summerset's accident. Me, I completely forgot that Roarke's discovery about his mother happened in this book ^_^; LOL. The reason why I picked Portrait in Death was because of the ending and Trueheart. I heart Trueheart!! He's sooo cute and I do wish we'll get more of him in the future book! LOL :)

In Reunion in Death, I talked about the dynamics and characters' interactions... While that is a strength of the series, another factor that contributes in making this series so strong is the cases... Or actually, the different types of cases Eve gets. Ms Roberts really play with them - sometimes we know who the villain is from the start, sometimes, it's a serial killer other time, it's one murder... I think that this line really says it all when it comes to this book's case:
Sometimes, you do the job, you close the case, but the door just doesn't shut for you. I guess this is going to be one of those. Roarke was right. He's just pathetic. It's easier when they're vicious or greedy or just downright evil. Pathetic leaves the door open a crack.
Different shades of grey. The villain is so often evil in romantic suspense novels. However, in life...

So yes, I enjoyed this one because Ms Roberts mixed it up when it came to the case. It was also a heart-breaking case, all that youth gone to waste. The ending was very exciting. However, the resolution of the case was a bit fast, in my opinion. Not as tidy as it could be... Also, the case was overshadowed by the personal conflict of the characters in this one.

I loved Eve taking care of Roarke, slipping him something. Eve and Summerset actually ganging up to take care of their beloved :D Also, I think that we got a more personal glimpse of Summerset and Roarke's relationship and that is so rare.

My Grade: B. Good and solid, but not my favorite.

It's hard for me to remember my feelings the first time I've read these books. Especially if I haven't reviewed them. Mainly, because it's been so long ago, they are so many and they kind of blur into another. Mostly though, I enjoyed them all... Each time, Ms Roberts delivers a very solid installment with solid writing, great characters and interesting cases. Some books are more interesting than others, true... but overall, they're all quite enjoyable.

For those who hesitate to try the series because of the huge backlist, I'd say give it a try, seriously. They're very easy to read and very compelling. I mean, I planned on re-reading one and ended up reading 3 in 2 days... I'm sure it was the same for Kristie. Once you start reading them, they're hard to put down :D


  1. OK - I'm hearing the Twilight theme music here!!! The fact that we both read JD Robb the same month is against the odds enough - but that we read two of the same books????? Now that has to defy the odds doesn't it?
    I like to read Naked in Death every couple of years just to see how far the characters have progressed. And yeh - it's odd to read an In Death book that doesn't have Peabody and all the other characters that are so familiar now.
    I like the ones best that explore the relationship between Eve and Roarke more - thus the love for Portrait more then you I think. And I'm glad you found out that Nora Roberts = JD Robb *g*.

  2. I'm new to the In Death series...hehe, okay I was new in 2007. When I first saw the In Death books, I scoffed at reading them. I mean, a series about the same hero and heroine? Who wants to read that? Ha, I was so wrong. In one month, I read 27 books in the series. Talk about In Death crack. lol.

    Same as you, Naked in Death isn't my favorite book out of the series but it's a special one that I constantly re-read. NID is the beginning of Eve and Roarke so will always be memorable.

    I enjoyed following Eve catch the villain in Reunion in Death. The wa her mind thinks is beautiful. I try to find the clues myself but I'm always behind. lol. And wow, you read some of the ID books in French? Go you!

    I re-read Portrait in Death only for Roarke scenes. It was in this book that we find out more about Roarke and his mother and so I was more engrossed in his past than paying attention to and following the case. I skimmed a lot of parts in the first reading. lol.

  3. Oh that is too funny that both you and Kristie reread In Death books for your Re-read challenge! To add more to the bizarre coincidence, would you believe that last week I started composing a post for my blog regarding an In Death Reading Challenge I'd like to run for 2010 for people like me who are new to this series? I've only read the first four, I think... all in the winter of 2008 and I'm determined to make progress! LOL!

  4. I've never read the in death books. People keep telling me I should but meh.. doesn't really interest me. But that is weird you two read the same books.

  5. Oh, how interesting to choose the same re-reads! :)

    I'm an NR fan and don't read JD Robb. The backlist intimidates the heck out of me... I know I'll pick them up one of these days, just don't know when. *g*

  6. Nath, I'll tell you the same thing I told Kristie. 32 Books!! That is just insane.

    Are you sure to two didn't plan this? I think it's pretty spookie that you two picked the same books to re-read.

  7. Kristie - LOL, I know!! What are the chances, right?

    It's been a while since I last re-read the In Death books. I mean, nowadays, I have so many books ^_^; I have to admit, although I love Eve's entourage, sometimes, it's nice to come back to the basics :D

    LOL, I'm glad I found out J.D.Robb = Nora Roberts :D But I bet I would have found out on blogland as well :D

    Tabitha - Addicting they are, right Tabz? I love this series...

    Naked in Death it's where it started it all. Hard not to go back to that book. I loved seeing Eve at work in Reunion in Death. Also, when she gets hit by that boy on a airboard.. that scene is hilarious. Definitively a great injection of humor in this series :D

    Yeah, I read some of the In Death books in French. I think the key word in French is Crime. Can't remember which one I read... can't remember if I kept them. But something I remember: Roarke was called Connor. Don't ask me why.

    Any books where we get hints of their pasts is interesting. I know Kristie's favorite books are the ones where the focus is mostly on their relationship and I gotta agree. Those are the good ones.

    Christine - LOL, I was just thinking how this would be a perfect challenge :D LOL :) Too bad I'm all up to date :) Although it'd probably be interesting to make a survey... Kind of like when did you start reading them, etc :D

    They are very easy to read one after the other in my opinion. Everyone seems to read a couple at a time, then pause...

    Isabel - LOL, they're really good :D but yeah, if they don't interest you, why force yourself?

    Weird right? LOL :)

    Hilcia - I know it's intimidating, but seriously they're really good. You will love them if you enjoy NR romantic suspense stand-alone :) When I started reading them, I was in a collector mood. Try to buy as many as I could and at that time, I didn't have that much $$ to spend on books. Had to ask my friends to give me some as b-day gifts and all :D

    Jill - LOL :) and it's still going strong :)

    and nope, we didn't plan it... which is why it's so fun and weird... and spooky indeed ^_^;

  8. Love the series!

    I've been making my way through the audio "In Death" books. I have Eve, Roarke and the whole gang in my head. LOL I'm so thankful that the reader, Susan Ericksen, does an amazing job with the voices. So far this year I've listened to 17 books. It's the ony way I had even a chance of catching up with the series. :)

  9. Leslie - I know!! It's just a great series!

    Wow, 17 books this year? LOL :) Hmmm, perhaps I should give it a try! :)