Monday, April 23, 2012

Review: The Witness by Nora Roberts

I can't hardly believe we're at the end of April already! Actually, if I think about it, my birthday is next week! Wow, how did that happen? LOL. Where did time disappear on me? Although when I look out the window, it's more like early March weather. We've really had wacky weather this spring. It was so nice and warm at one time, almost like summer... and today? It's 2°C, extremely windy and rainy. Actually, I had to scrape wet snow off my car yesterday and there are parts of the province that are getting 5 to 10cm of snow!! Crazy! And of course, this morning, traffic was horrible. Sigh.

Anyway, let's get on with the program! If everything goes according to my plans, this week is going to be very busy on the blog :) Hopefully, I'll be able to deliver! First, I want to start with a review for The Witness by Nora Roberts. Find out how much I enjoyed Ms Roberts' 200th release!

The Witness by Nora Roberts
published by Putnam in April 2012
Elizabeth Fitch's short-lived teenage rebellion began with L'Oreal Pure Black, a pair of scissors, and a fake ID. It ended in blood...

Daughter of a cold, controlling mother and an anonymous donor, studious, obedient Elizabeth finally let loose one night, drinking too much at a nightclub and allowing a strange man's seductive Russian accent to lure her to a house on Lake Shore Drive. The events that followed changed her life forever.

Twelve years later, the woman now known as Abigail Lowery lives alone on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks. A freelance programmer, she works at home designing sophisticated security systems. Her own security is supplemented by a fierce dog and an assortment of firearms. She keeps to herself, saying little, revealing nothing.

Unfortunately, that seems to be the quickest way to get attention in a tiny southern town.

The mystery of Abigail Lowery intrigues local police chief Brooks Gleason, on both a personal and professional level. Her sharp, logical mind, her secretive nature, her unromantic viewpoints leave him fascinated but frustrated. He suspects that Abigail needs protection from something, even if he doesn't know what - and that her elaborate defenses hide a story that must be revealed.

Accustomed to two-bit troublemakers, Gleason is about to walk into the sights of very powerful and dangerous men. And Abigail Lowery, who has built a life based on security and self-control, is at risk of losing both.
Genre: Contemporary romance, Romantic suspense
Series: Stand-alone

The Story: I'm not going to attempt a recap, because I don't think I could do it without giving too much away ^_^; Also, I think the blurb is pretty good to give readers a sense. If you want more details, you can always check out Ames' review or May's review, both excellent by the way :)

My Opinion: People will say what they want about Nora Roberts, it doesn't change the fact that she's one of the most consistent and solid authors out there, and not just in romance. You have to be in order to publish 200 books! Of course, not all of her books are wowzers, but they are almost all enjoyable. Truth be told, I've yet heard people say unanimously "Stay away from X book, it was a real dud." And if we continue being honest, her 'duds' are often better than a lot of books out there. That's why I keep looking forward to Ms Roberts new releases. She's become an auto-buy author, but also a comfort author. Yes, I know what to expect, but at the same time, Ms Roberts delivers :) And I'm glad to say that Ms Roberts indeed delivered with her 200th book, because The Witness was a winner for me :)

What made The Witness was a winner for me? Well the fact that I stayed up till 3am to read as much as I could. I was hoping to finish it, but alas... it's quite a big book. I don't know if it's age or what, but I don't stay up late anymore to read. Sleep has become more important... *gasp* I know! So I really have to be into the book to stay up late... and 3am?!? I was really, really into it LOL. If it had been during the week-end, I would probably have stayed up till I finished it :) The second reason this book was a winner for me is simple: I liked everything about it :) The characters, the story and the setting - liked and enjoyed it all.

I have to say, I especially liked Abigail and Brooks. I thought they were just so likable and had such great chemistry together. Ms Roberts has written socially awkward characters, but never to Abigail's level. Think of a cross between Temperance Brennan from Bones and Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory :) The thing though is I don't think Ms Roberts was trying to be caricatural or build on the success of such characters. If you look at Abigail's past, given her upbringing and the years of hiding, her personality fits, makes sense and that's what I liked about her character. She was genuine. Had Abigail's childhood been different, I had no doubt she would be sociable and comfortable :)  And seriously, her personality paired with Brooks' gave rise to some really funny moments, loved how her mind was so literal at times :) Speaking of Brooks, I always say that Ms Roberts excels at writing grumpy hero like Simon Doyle in The Search, but The Witness reminded me that she can do charming heroes as well :) The type that get under your skin before you realize it :) Really, for someone who is not used to socializing or interacting with people, it's no wonder Abigail was confused and baffled by Brooks LOL. It's no secret that I love the "happy-go-lucky heroine thawing the stuffy hero" trope, but before The Witness, I thought the opposite wasn't as good. However, that's exactly what you get with Abigail and Brooks. A laid-back hero who draws out a socially awkward heroine and I realized that what I liked to read was characters out of their depth :)  It was endearing  to see Abigail trying to find her balance, coming to grasp with the relationship and Brooks being there for every step. I loved his endless patience with Abigail and the fact that he never pushed, he waited for her to be ready. I also admire his integrity when it came to his work, but also his flexibility, the fact that he acknowledged there were shades of grey in the world. Seriously, Abigail lucked out with Brooks because he was a great man.

I enjoyed the story; I thought it was well-balanced between giving us a glimpse of Brooks and of Abigail's lives. I have to say, I was really surprised by the direction the suspense took. Throughout the book, I kept expecting a particular event (highlight to find out: for the mafia to find Abigail)  to happen and I could definitively see the building up for it. I was at the edge of my seat, dreading the moment... I kept thinking how improbable it'd be and why now? However, as I said, Ms Roberts totally surprised me. It was unexpected, but more importantly, it fit with the characters' behaviors, especially Abigail, and made The Witness really interesting. So kudos to Ms Roberts :)

I think everyone will enjoy The Witness :) Especially since Ms Roberts laid back on the research with this one. It's a great feeling when you feel like the author is listening to you. I enjoyed the secondary characters, they fleshed out the background a bit more. I actually liked that they did not steal the spotlight and that for once, there was no secondary romance.  As usual, Ms Roberts did a great job with the characters interactions. I liked seeing Brooks with his family, how they welcomed Abigail... and once again, Ms Roberts did not overdo it. I feel like she held back a little, restrained herself, but not in a bad way. Instead, it was so the focus remained on Abigail and Brooks, which was definitively a good thing :)

While I loved Abigail, Brooks and their interactions, I did have a little issue with their romance. A tiny, wee issue really and that was the timeline of their romance. I felt things happened rather quickly between our H/H. From the moment Abigail and Brooks met to the moment the plan is put into action is 3 months I think. Three months is actually not bad, but when I read it, it felt much shorter than that. I know part of it was that Brooks got under Abigail's skin, but it was hard for me to believe she would open herself and trust him so quickly... However, when you take The Witness all together, it is a very small issue and not enough to ruin the book for me, that's for sure :)

My Grade: A-. The Witness was a great book, one that I really enjoyed. It was a definite winner for me and I can't think of a better way for Ms Roberts to celebrate her 200th book :)