Review of “Whiskey Beach” by Nora Roberts

Roberts, Nora. Whiskey Beach. New York: G.P. Putnan’s Sons, 2013.

Hardcover | $27.95 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0399159893 | 484 pages | Romantic Suspense

3.5 stars

Following the recent #CopyPasteCris scandal and the way Nora Roberts became one of the leading voices speaking out about it and the problems in the industry, I decided yet again to try another of her books, selecting Whiskey Beach due to it being on the list of plagiarized titles. And while I did find some of similar issues that I have had with Roberts’ work in the past, I did find the story had a lot of promise.

I was drawn to the idea of a plot and setting that had this historic lore to it, and while it was slow to develop in that regard, I did like that the way it was incorporated was intriguing and played well into the resolution of the murder of Eli’s estranged wife. I also liked that, for the most part, Eli was a well-written character. I could feel for him and what he had been through, but I love that he came to find new purpose in his life through this experience.

The more romantic suspense I read, the more I find that this subgenre straddles that weird line of having to balance the plot elements that cater to the suspense plot vs. building a believable romance that I can invest in, and it can be hard for even the most experienced writer to negotiate the two in a way where both are equally interesting. There are exceptions, including Roberts’ own work, but this one seems to be one where there was that difficulty, at least from my perspective.

This leads into my issues with the early development of the relationship between Eli and Abra. It took me ages to become endeared to Abra, especially given how pushy she was initially. Also, while the relationship did start to feel more organic as the book went on, the mostly physical nature of the relationship at first felt a bit forced, and I more or less found the romance less interesting than the resolution to who was behind the murders and why Eli was being targeted.

This was more or less a decent book, and one that did have enjoyable aspects to it. And given the love it has received from friends who love Nora, I do think a newer Nora fan who has been eagerly digging through her backlist or one who somehow missed it would enjoy this a bit more than I did as a casual reader of hers.

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