I was debating which book to review and decided to go with The Obsession by Nora Roberts... Her books are usually comfort reads, so I figured they'd be comfort reviews too? Or at least, easy to review... right? Guess I'll find out now LOL.
The Obsession by Nora Roberts
published by Putnam in April 2016
Naomi Bowes lost her innocence the night she followed her father into the woods. In freeing the girl trapped in the root cellar, Naomi revealed the horrible extent of her father’s crimes and made him infamous.Genre: Contemporary romance, Romatic Suspense
Now a successful photographer living under the name Naomi Carson, she has found a place that calls to her, thousands of miles away from everything she’s ever known. Naomi wants to embrace the solitude, but the residents of Sunrise Cove keep forcing her to open up—especially the determined Xander Keaton.
Naomi can feel her defenses failing, and knows that the connection her new life offers is something she’s always secretly craved. But as she’s learned time and again, her past is never more than a nightmare away.
The Story: For once, the blurb is pretty accurate. On the eve of her 12th birthday, Naomi follows her father into the wood, hoping to find the location of her birthday gift. Instead, what she finds is a young woman - naked, bloody and tied up - in a forgotten root cellar. The discovery and ensuing rescue and revelation that Naomi's father is a serial killer forever changes and marks Naomi and her family - her younger brother Mason, her mother and her two uncles with whom they go to live with.
Eighteen years later, Naomi is a successful photographer who's been roaming the country since she finished college... that is until she ends up in Sunrise Cove, Washington State. In Sunrise Cove, Naomi falls in love with this grand, isolated and neglected house - 5 fireplaces, 10 bedrooms, 6.5 baths - and decides to settle. At least, for now.
With all the renovation and her own work, Naomi doesn't expect to form bonds with the town and its residents. She doesn't expect to suddenly own a dog or to start a romance with Xander Keaton - mechanic, lead singer in a band and avid reader. She starts to embrace this new life until a series of murders, eerily similar to her father's crimes, starts happening... Her past seems determine to catch up to Naomi... but can she outrun it and find happiness?
My Opinion: Over the years, I've noticed a pattern with Ms Roberts' stand-alone books... It seems she'll have a winner book, followed by a lull of 2-3 years before her next wowzer. That was supposed to be last year... and therefore, I was sorely disappointed with Ms Roberts' last book, The Liar, because it really didn't meet my expectations. Still, I pre-ordered The Obsession, really hoping it would be the end of the drought... and guess what? It was!!
Ms Roberts' last hit for me was The Witness and not surprisingly, there was a lot of similarities between The Witness and The Obsession, mainly in the structure of both stories. Both books start with the heroine's back stories at a younger age, setting up for the intrigue. Fast-forward many years and our heroines are all grown up and we see them settle in their new lives. A major part of the books is dedicated to the day-to-day details, their routines, and how the heroes worm in their lives :) Finally, there's the intrigue/mystery part of the books... And while I could discern the pattern Ms Roberts used, I still immensely enjoyed The Obsession :)
I was kind of in a reading lull when I picked up The Obsession and right away, Ms Roberts hooked me in. Perhaps it was the familiarity of her voice, but it's hard to deny there is something special about Ms Roberts' writing. Especially when you consider the fact that a huge part of the book is about Naomi's renovations, her work and day-to-day life and Ms Roberts is still able to make it interesting. It's her way of making us connect with the characters better, but it takes talent to pull it off because with any other authors, I'm sure many of us would find it too detailed and boring... but Ms Roberts just makes it work. So I think with The Obsession, Ms Roberts played to her strength. She aslo kept the cast of characters under control which was an issue for me in The Liar.
Speaking of characters, I really enjoyed the ones in The Obsession, particularly Naomi. What I liked most with Naomi is that we understood from the beginning where her issues were coming from, why she was the way she was. I mean, you don't find out your father is a serial killer and play a critical part in his arrest without carrying a lot of baggage for the rest of your life. As such, I didn't have any issue with Naomi's fight or flight reaction and her fear of commitment. As for Xander, he was a great hero :) As Ames told me, who doesn't love a hero who loves to read? :P But seriously, I liked him. He wasn't as charming as Brooks from The Witness or grumpy as Simon from The Search, but a mixed of both. There was also a sexy, manly vibe coming off from Xander... perhaps the whole lead singer thing. I liked how confident he was, but without being pushy and appreciate that he didn't go completely alpha on Naomi. He listened to her and that was very important. Their romance was very organic and it worked :) Aside from Naomi and Xander, I enjoyed Naomi's brother's character the most. There's just something about a character having a goal and achieving int :) All the other characters were entertaining as well.
As for the mystery, well it was expected. I read a review somewhere that said the mystery/intrigue was a bit jarring, like it didn't seem to fit the rest of the story because most of the book was quite mellow. I can see where that reviewer is coming from, but for The Obsession, something had to happen. It'd be hard to believe that someone could comes across two murders in their life and them not being connected. Or perhaps, it'd make this person really unlucky ^_^; So in that sense, I think the mystery failed a little... as in, it was a bit too predictable. Finally, the only part that I didn't really like was the whole thing with the first victim in Sunshine Cove. How she had a crush on Xander and felt that Naomi was stealing him and the confrontation. Something bothered me and I think it's the whole behavior. First, did we really need to know/connect with the victim? Did it really have to impact Naomi and Xander's that much? And second, it's how the woman was painted... As a dissatisfied woman with a bad attitude. Meh.
My Grade: B+. I really enjoyed everything about The Obsession, It hooked me in from the beginning to the end and was perfect for my mood. Definitively Ms Roberts' better books in a few years... Hopefully, the wait won't be too long till the next winner.