Skip to main content

It's Not Me; It's You--A Review of "Shelter in Place" by Nora Roberts

TitleShelter in Place
Author: Nora Roberts
ISBN1250161592
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Price: $14.99 (e-book) $16.49 (hardcover) $23.95 (Audible)
Rating: ⭐️

Over the last few years, I have found myself reading fewer Nora Roberts novels.  In the past, she was my go-to author, an auto-buy, someone I knew whose work would never disappoint me.  Unfortunately, this is no longer the case.  While her prose is still beautiful and effortlessly depicts all manner of situations, her stories have become stale (recycling plots from other books is a big part of my problem with her) and it seems that she is less inclined to writing actual romances.  I was actually really excited about Shelter in Place because it wasn't like anything else I've read by her--and that sounded like a good thing.  What I got was a book that wasn't really sure what it was or what it wanted to be.


From the Publisher:


From Nora Roberts, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Year One (December 2017), comes Shelter in Place—a powerful tale of heart, heroism . . . and propulsive suspense. 
It was a typical evening at a mall outside Portland, Maine. Three teenage friends waited for the movie to start. A boy flirted with the girl selling sunglasses. Mothers and children shopped together, and the manager at video game store tended to customers. Then the shooters arrived.
The chaos and carnage lasted only eight minutes before the killers were taken down. But for those who lived through it, the effects would last forever. In the years that followed, one would dedicate himself to a law enforcement career. Another would close herself off, trying to bury the memory of huddling in a ladies' room, helplessly clutching her cell phone--until she finally found a way to pour her emotions into her art.
But one person wasn't satisfied with the shockingly high death toll at the DownEast Mall. And as the survivors slowly heal, find shelter, and rebuild, they will discover that another conspirator is lying in wait--and this time, there might be nowhere safe to hide.

The Review:


This book should come with a Trigger Warning.  While I thought knew what I was getting with a book about the survivors of a mass shooting, I did not expect to actually read a depiction of the shooting.  The danger of having someone as talented at creating a word picture as Nora Roberts writing something like this is that you get the full, horrible picture in stunning 4k HD.  As I read this in an Uber on the way home from work last week, I had visible goosebumps on my arms.  I am not going to excerpt any part of the shooting scenes because I don't want to put myself back in the position of having to read it all again, but believe me when I say it was hard to read.  Anyone who has a heart or the ability to empathize with others will have trouble making it through this section.  It was the most well-written part of the book.  Nothing that came after could compare.  This is not a good thing.

One of the things that really bugged me about this book was that there were 10 completely unnecessary chapters all about the 13 years between the shooting and when the hero and heroine meet in the present.  Yes, you read that right--the hero, Reed, and the heroine, Simone, do not meet until Chapter 15, which my Kindle app tells me about halfway through the book.  These chapters, with the exception of a small part about Reed and the killer meeting, have very little to do with the book.  Others will argue that these chapters establish the characters and they let you get to know them better before the crux of the story takes place, but this is bullshit. I do not need a 10 chapter info-dump to understand that the heroine is mentally scarred from what happened in the mall when she was 15.  Never before was this a necessary step in writing a book--and it still isn't.  It is completely possible to get to know a character while the action is happening.

Another problem I had was the fact that the romance was barely there.  Because it took half of the book for Simone and Reed to even meet, we don't get enough time with them as a couple before they're 100% committed.  In fact, the moment Reed first sees Simone, he knows that she's the one for him.  To make it worse, there is no real interaction between them between a kiss and them having sex a week later.  There were no phone calls or text message. There weren't any flirty emails going from one person to the other.  There was ZERO communication.  To me, this shows that neither were interested enough in seeking the other out--they lived in the same small town, but didn't see each other once?

I really don't think that Nora wants to write romance anymore--and that's fine.  She can write a phone book and people will still read it.  Hell, I would probably read it.  The problem comes when she forces herself to write a romance into a plot that does not need one.  This book would have been a passable thriller, but because the romance between Reed and Simone was included in a way that was obviously there in an attempt to appease her fans, it could be neither a thriller nor a romance.  The relationship aspect of the book slowed it down, and that's not how a romance is supposed to work.  It is meant to enhance the story, not bog it down in unnecessary plot points just to satisfy fans.  Nora (not that you're reading this), write what you want.  If you want to write thrillers, do it, but commit to it.  Don't add a romance because that is what is expected of you.  When you write for the fans, it shows.

I hate to say this, but until Nora decides what she wants to write--whether that is romances, thrillers, or another genre--I'm done with her.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Happy Bookaversary! A Review of "Edge of Darkness" by Karen Rose

Title: Edge of Darkness
Author: Karen Rose
ISBN: 9780399583087
Publisher: Berkeley
Series: Cincinnati Series
Price: $5.98 (Paperback) $7.99 (e-book) $28.28(Audible)
Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


It seems like I've been reading Karen Rose novels my entire life.  I remember the day I came across Count to Ten in the Duane Reade on Queens Blvd.  I'd finished the paperback I brought with me to school that day while sitting in the Dining Hall eating lunch and needed something for the long bus ride home.  I almost didn't buy it because it was $9.99 and I hadn't gotten my financial aid money yet, but the cover copy called to me.  Not even the 500+ page count could scare me away.

I recently learned that Edge of Darkness is Ms. Rose's 20th book and in a strange way, I feel like a proud mama watching her child cross the stage to get their diploma.  I'm just a big ball of happy nostalgia, thinking back to all of the other books I've read by her and hopeful about the ones to come, so befor…

Fifteen Years Later: Review of "His Sinful Touch" by Candace Camp

Title: His Sinful Touch
Author: Candace Camp
ISBN: 0373789963
Publisher: HQN
Series: Mad Morelands #5
Price: $5.98 (Paperback) $5.99 (e-book) $19.96(Audible)
Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2


Most readers remember their first, the first book of their particular genre that they read, whether they enjoyed the book or not.  I have two firsts--the first romance I ever read was a Harlequin Intrigue written by Amanda Stevens.  If you've read my blog before you probably already know this.  The first historical romance I read was Mesmerized by Candace Camp, which was also the first book in her Mad Morelands series.  

I was a senior in high school when this series began and I remember seeing the paperback version of Mesmerized on the shelf at the Target on Queens Blvd (yes, I spent a lot of time on Queens Blvd as a teenager), and was pulled in by the gorgeous cover.  Apparently, that book has had several covers over the last 15 years, but this is the one I remember:


Isn't it pretty?  Of course from the cover I…

The Internet of Things: Review of "Hacking IT" by Kimberly Dean

Title: Hacking IT
Author: Kimberly Dean
ISBN: 9781386835561
Publisher: Self-published
Series: Hackers #1
Price: $3.99 (e-book) $9.99 (paperback)
Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2


Have you ever seen the description of a book and known immediately that it was going to be awesome and upon reading it were faced with the possibility that it might actually be better than you originally thought?  For me, that book was Hacking IT by Kimberly Dean.  A female white hat hacker using her skills to uncover a black hat hacker, who has stepped away from his computer and entered the real world?  Um, yes, please.

From the Publisher:
Independent software developer Kylie Grant is on top of her game in the world of IT. She has loyal clients, a good reputation, and a prestigious membership in technology giant Afire Industries’ small business accelerator. Things are going well until she stumbles across an innocuous issue with the lighting in the building where she rents space. When she digs into the problem, she discovers some…

Review of "Come Sundown" by Nora Roberts

Title: Come Sundown
Author: Nora Roberts
ISBN: 1250123070
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Price: $14.99 (e-book) $16.49 (hardcover) $23.95 (Audible)
Rating:⭐️⭐️

I read my first Nora Roberts novel when I was a 16-year-old high school junior.  I remember seeing her books in all of the drug stores long before the fateful day on which I decided to actually buy one but had never thought anything of them.  From that day on, La Nora became the gold standard--the author all others had to live up to, the one to beat.  I remember sitting at my mom's kitchen table with one of her paperbacks and a sheet of paper, marking down which of her books were available at the libraries near me.  Her backlog was (and still is) immense and I was going to read them all.  While I still haven't read all of her books, I've read a good chunk of them, many of which have a place on my virtual keeper shelf, which is why I was so deeply disappointed in Come Sundown.

From the PublisherA novel of suspense, fam…

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year--Christmas in September

The day after Labor Day I woke up to an email from my contacts at St. Martin’s Press, inviting me to review six of their upcoming Christmas books, all of which have release dates in early October. For most people, this would probably be a problem — who wants to think about Christmas before Halloween — but for me, I’ve always had a soft spot for the man in the red suit. Even after I stopped believing in the Christ-Myth, I still loved that one holiday. To me, Christmas represents everything that Thanksgiving is supposed to be, but with better music and no obligatory turkey. Some of my favorite books have a Christmas theme and so I jumped at the chance to review those six books (well, five of them because the sixth has to do with cowboys and if there is one sub-genre I just cannot do is cowboys). I read the first two, With This Christmas Ring by Manda Collins and Deck the Halls by Donna Alward, fairly quickly, especially since they’re both novellas. Both are being released in a little o…