Review of “Under Currents” by Nora Roberts

Roberts, Nora. Under Currents. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2019.

Hardcover | $28.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1250207098 | 436 pages | Romantic Suspense

3.5 stars

I was nervous about picking up Under Currents, as while she has deviated from her “formula” a bit in recent books, which I liked (especially Shelter in Place), I heard this was more of a return to the “traditional NR romantic suspense. And upon finally picking it up, I found that they were right, as it contains both the same familiar strengths and weaknesses from some of her previous books.

Roberts knows how to begin with a bang, regardless of the subgenre she’s writing in, and that’s still the case here. The first section, depicting the abuse in Zane’s family is masterfully crafted, perfectly capturing the bravery of Zane and his sister, Britt, as they found a way out of their abusive home, the determination of their aunt Emily, family friend David, and Detective Lee Keller to save them, and the twisted nature of the parents’ relationship with one another.

And the plot thread involving the continued, fatal dysfunction of the parents eighteen years later is equally well written, with Roberts again employing her skill at getting into the mind of a twisted criminal to depict Graham Bigelow’s mad determination to get even with everyone who supposedly ruined his life.

And the romance between Zane and town newcomer Darby is reasonably interesting, especially as they bond over the way they’ve both experienced abuse and survived.

However, Roberts tries to make a point of having both their pasts come back to haunt them in the latter half, and given that her stand alone romantic suspense books are a bit longer than her series books, I did feel like there was a bit too much filler in between these events, as I thought the book could have easily cut off after the Graham situation, given how things settled back to relative normalcy before the crazy ex came back into play. I appreciate a good slow burning plot, but this one feels a bit too slow.

Like many NR books, at least in my opinion, I feel this is a case of having a great idea, but a flawed execution. I’ve heard from other Roberts fans who love it, so of course, your mileage may vary. I do think it is worth checking out if you have more patience for a slow-burn thriller, and also are looking for something that deals with a difficult subject like domestic abuse head-on.

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