Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Review: The Perfect Hope by Nora Roberts

The Perfect Hope by Nora Roberts
published by Berkley in November 2012
Ryder is the hardest Montgomery brother to figure out-with a tough-as-nails outside and possibly nothing too soft underneath. He's surly and unsociable, but when he straps on a tool belt, no woman can resist his sexy swagger. Except apparently Hope Beaumont, the innkeeper of his own Inn BoonsBoro…

As the former manager of a D.C. hotel, Hope is used to excitement and glamour, but that doesn't mean she can't appreciate the joys of small-town living. She's where she wants to be-except for in her love life. Her only interaction with the opposite sex has been sparring with the infuriating Ryder, who always seems to get under her skin. Still, no one can deny the electricity that crackles between them…a spark that ignited with a New Year's Eve kiss.

While the Inn is running smoothly, thanks to Hope's experience and unerring instincts, her big-city past is about to make an unwelcome-and embarrassing-appearance. Seeing Hope vulnerable stirs up Ryder's emotions and makes him realize that while Hope may not be perfect, she just might be perfect for him…
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Inn Boonsboro trilogy, Book #3

The Story: The Perfect Hope is the latest and also the last book in the Inn Boonsboro trilogy by Ms Roberts and, without surprise, features Ryder Montgomery and Hope Beaumont as our H/H. Ryder and Hope didn't start off on a good footing. Ryder was annoyed that his mother hired the innkeeper on the spot without any real interview and without consulting him and his brothers. He was also not sure that Hope, coming from a big city, would suit the inn, fit in their town. As for Hope, from his clear reluctance and subsequent interactions with him, she found him surly and unsociable. In fact, when it comes to their personalities, the two are opposite... but despite their differences, there's no denying they have chemistry. And so Ryder and Hope decide to embark into a no-string relationship to explore the sparks.

Oh and we also get the conclusion about the ghost, Eliza, and how she connects with the inn.

My Opinion: To be honest, I did not have high expectations for The Perfect Hope when I picked it up. It's not that I didn't like Ryder or Hope from what I read previously in The Next Always and The Last Boyfriend. It's just that the first two installments, while solid, weren't exactly memorable and Ms Roberts' trilogies and quartets can be very predictable. Also, this cover is, hmmm, well ugly! The setting looks fake and the colors are bland. It just doesn't reflect the vibrant feel of the Inn Boonsboro... Ms Roberts usually gets such great covers, but The Perfect Hope's was a total miss and I was afraid it was an indication of the story itself... However, I was totally wrong and The Perfect Hope turned out to be the most enjoyable book in the trilogy for me!

It all came down to Hope and Ryder, they made the book for me :) I enjoyed their characters as they were very likable. I loved Ryder's surliness LOL. I've said it before, but it bears repeating, Ms Roberts definitively has a knack at writing surly, grumpy heroes :) Seriously though, I think I like this type of heroes so much because they are frank, have very little patience for BS and they take care of the heroines when they need to. They're really the perfect mix of alpha and beta heroes :) So yes, I liked Ryder's character and I thought it was cute that his solution to female problems was flowers LOL. As for Hope, she was also very likable. The perfect blend of sophistication and amiability. The kind of woman you can't help but be wowed by, but who's still very nice and sociable. In truth, both Hope and Ryder were your typical Nora Roberts' characters, the ones that are confident, at ease and happy with their lives. So what set them apart, why did I enjoy The Perfect Hope so much? You're going to laugh at me, but it was the no-string relationship ^_^;  This is a very popular theme in contemporary romance at the moment and I've been complaining about it so much in recent months. How tired of the trope I am, how I want something different, how the characters that get into these so-called no-string flings are just not the types that should, etc... But what can I say, Ms Roberts nailed the no-string sex that develops into something more in The Perfect Hope! LOL. What transpires between Ryder and Hope is exactly how the progression from sex to relationship should be done in my opinion. It starts with both Ryder and Hope being attracted to each other and wanting nothing more than sex... And as they have sex, they settle into a routine and get to know each other better. Then at a certain point, they don't really know what they are to each other - more than sex buddies, but not exactly boyfriend/girlfriend. As the fling continues, they develop feelings for each other, they care... and ultimately, they realize they are in love. Best of all, they don't balk at it, they don't get scared and run away! What I loved about Hope and Ryder's relationship was that it was mutual as well. And I also really appreciated the fact that the friends and the brothers didn't get all noisy and ruin it for Ryder and Hope by announcing that they were in love. Instead, they where there as sounding board, offered support and advice... but that's it. The romance was very low in conflict, but it really worked for me :)

In The Perfect Hope, we also got to follow Hope in her life, saw what being an innkeeper entailed, and kept up with the Montgomery's activities and their gatherings. The book pretty much has the same pacing as The Next Always and The Last Boyfriend. If you didn't enjoy it in those two books, chances are it's not going to work for you in The Perfect Hope either. Obviously though, it worked for me :) We got glimpses of the characters' lives showing us their personalities and their work without being bogged down by the daily routine and with a brisk timeline. I think Ms Roberts is one of the best authors at writing this kind of pacing. I've picked up a lot of contemporary romance books lately that tried to mimic this kind of pacing, but a lot of them fell into a too passive rhythm and it made for a dull story. I think Ms Roberts' secret is the use of the secondary characters, but also showing us different kind of interactions and dynamics. I loved seeing Ryder with his brothers, Hope with her best friends... but the best moments were really the family gatherings and the dynamics that involved the kids and the dogs, especially Ryder's D.A. :)

The only part that I didn't care much in The Perfect Hope was the storyline with the ghost. Ms Roberts' use of the paranormal in her trilogies and quartets are always hit or miss for me and in this case, it was a miss. I can see though that it was needed. All three novels were rather low in conflict where the romance was concerned and she couldn't just go on about the inn stuff, so she needed something, another storyline... However, Ms Roberts has had ghosts in previous trilogies, so it wasn't very original. Furthermore, I felt it was just too convenient and predictable how it connected to the Montgomerys :( So I wish Ms Roberts would have come up with something else, something more original and perhaps suspenseful.

My Grade: B. Despite the fact that the story was predictable, I still really enjoyed The Perfect Hope for the characters and the execution. It was not the most memorable story, but it was solid and I have a feeling it's going to be one that I'll be re-reading :) Also, there is a comfort factor in picking up a Nora Roberts book. The writing style, voice and pacing are so familiar, they simply me in the story :)