Sunday, June 7, 2009

Cruising and Reading: Book 2 – Night Shadow by Nora Roberts

As the ship pulled into Half Moon Cay I was reading the opening pages of the second book of the cruise, Night Shadow by Nora Roberts.  I can’t say I loved this book.  Usually after reading a Nora Roberts I feel very satisfied like after eating a good dessert; not too sweet, good texture and filling.  "Night Shadow" just misses the mark.  (The book was first published in 1994 and it has been republished in large print in 2008).  I have a feeling it was a time when Ms. Roberts was beginning her transition from historical romance to modern romance/mystery.  The book is an interesting mix of paranormal, mystery, and romance. 
Gage Guthrie is a fantastically wealthy man who has a secret alter ego called Nemesis.  Deborah O’Roarke is a beautiful tough assistant district attorney.  They live in the very sophisticated and crime ridden city Urbana, located on the East Coast, (New York City).  The two meet one night when Deborah is attacked heading to her car and Nemesis rescues her from being assaulted and possibly raped.  They meet again at a swank political fund raiser for the mayor’s re-election and Gage finds he hasn’t been able to stop thinking of her since he rescued her.  There is a big drug ring operating in Urbana without punishment and unbeknown to the other both Deborah and Gage/Nemisis are working to bring it down.   They both want justice in the world but they disagree on the system and how justice should be dispensed.  Gage is a secret vigilante and Deborah is a public crusader, just opposite enough to attract.
The story was ok.  I was more intrigued with the story concept.  Reading "Night Shadow" was a little like watching an author in transition.  I can see JD Robb show up in the writing.  There are a lot of similarities between Gage and Deborah and Dallas and Roarke, right down to names.  Roarke is fabulously wealthy with a murky past.  Gage is too.  Both Roarke and Gage are really good with computers and hacking.  Deborah is a District Attorney committed to cleaning up the streets and representing the under dog.  Dallas is a cop with the same beliefs.  Both women make each victim their responsibility.  They are by the book tough women who have something to prove to themselves and the world.  
I think "Night Shadow" falls short because Ms. Roberts is still writing a romance so the mystery/suspense aspect of the story is lacking.  She really becomes a good writer of the mystery after becoming JD Robb even when writing as herself.  The romance is still important but takes a respectful backseat to the suspense. 
It was a good beach read.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Cruising and Reading: Book 1 - Men of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong

I was away for a week or so recently on a cruise in the Eastern Caribbean. It was a superb vacation! Myself and 7 other women from work all took off for 7 days withouth spouses, boyfriends or kids. We call it the "Sisters NO Misters Cruise." We visited St. Thomas, San Juan, Grand Turk and a little private island called Half Moon Cay. Besides eating really good food, a little gambling, dancing, snorkeling and sight seeing, I got 4 books read. Like I said, this vacation was most excellent.
Heading out of Miami I was reading Kelley Armstrong’s “Men of the Otherworld.” Ms. Armstrong has written a series of novels called “The Otherworld.” This series revolves around different women who have paranormal abilities. Obviously “Men of the Otherworld” deals with their men. In this first book of the new series Clayton and Jeremy Danvers are the featured characters. The book fills in the back story of these two very important characters in the first series. Jeremy has always been an enigmatic and mystical kind of pack leader who seems to have clairvoyant abilities. In this book we discover who Jeremy’s mother was and why his father hates him so. Clayton is Jeremy’s adopted son and enforcer who has his own strange story. He was bitten by a werewolf at the age of 6 or so then lived as a wild child in the bayou until Jeremy learned of him and brought him home. We also find out how Jeremy became pack leader and why there are now two packs in the U.S.
Ms. Armstrong is a fine writer. She knows how to build and hold tension. I kept turning pages just to see what the next trouble was going to be. She is also very good at creating believable characters. While it is hard to believe a five year could wonder off and get bitten by a werewolf she has made it very plausible. I guess, too, with some of the strange things CNN and local news report these days maybe it isn’t so far fetched. I know this may sound strange since the book involves werewolves but I connected with the theme of family that tied all these characters together. Jeremy’s relationship with his father is angry and sad but like so many of us he creates his own family with other pack members and then with the foundling pup, Clayton. Clayton who seemed to know he was better off as a wild child than stay in the scary environment that was his human family becomes the best son Jeremy could have ever hoped for.
Men of the Otherworld                            This book is not without violence or even a little sex but nothing was over the top. There is a part in the story where Clayton decides he has to kill a mutt, (a mutt is a werewolf not in the pack), in a most graphic and awful way in order to protect Jeremy and the pack. It is chilling in its premeditation and my eyes were glued to each page waiting to see what would happen but nothing of the actual act was gratuitous or over the top. Clayton is a psychopath with a heart.
I am looking forward to more books from Kelley Armstrong and her Otherworld.