Published by Penguin on May 27th 2008
Genres: Romantic suspense, Suspense
Source: my personal collection
Also by this author: Dark Witch, Shadow Spell, The Collector, Night Moves, Whiskey Beach, Jewels of the Sun, Tears of the Moon, Stars of Fortune, Tribute, The Search, Three Fates
Police Lieutenant Phoebe MacNamara found her calling at an early age when an unstable man broke into her family's home, trapping and terrorizing them for hours. Now she's Savannah's top hostage negotiator, defusing powderkeg situations with a talent for knowing when to give in-and when to jump in and take action. It's satisfying work-and sometimes those skills come in handy at home dealing with her agoraphobic mother, still traumatized by the break-in after all these years, and her precocious seven-year-old, Carly.
It's exactly that heady combination of steely courage and sensitivity that first attracts Duncan Swift to Phoebe. After observing her coax one of his employees down from a roof ledge, he is committed to keeping this intriguing, take-charge woman in his life. She's used to working solo, but Phoebe's discovering that no amount of negotiation can keep Duncan at arm's length.
And when she's grabbed by a man who throws a hood over her head and brutally assaults her-in her own precinct house-Phoebe can't help but be deeply shaken. Then threatening messages show up on her doorstep, and she's not just alarmed but frustrated. How do you go face-to-face with an opponent who refuses to look you in the eye?
Now, with Duncan backing her up every step of the way, she must establish contact with the faceless tormentor who is determined to make her a hostage to fear . . . before she becomes the final showdown.
High Noon is Nora Roberts at the top of her game, but it’s not always a comfortable read.
Phoebe is a cop, a skilled and highly trained hostage negotiator, so there’s more up-close-and-personal, vividly realistic violence in this book than in some of Roberts’s other books. Phoebe herself is a victim of assault during the course of the book, but violence directed toward several other people is also described in potentially disturbing detail. I wouldn’t want to have been eating during some scenes, and I found it wasn’t a good book for me to read late at night. Others may find it less disturbing.
On the other hand, I enjoyed the romance very much. Duncan is persistent, but seems to understand just when to push Phoebe and when to back off. He can come across as laid-back, and he’s very grounded. He is an excellent judge of character and a nice guy as well as an intelligent entrepreneur. He’s not perfect, but he’s practically perfect for Phoebe. Phoebe is sensible but also tries to keep herself and events around her under control. She’s a top-notch negotiator and a good cop, a single mother who adores her daughter, and a daughter who loves and protects her mother and brother. She has, as many cops do, a harder time accepting help and protection than giving them.
Roberts paces the story beats perfectly, racheting up the suspense slowly but inexorably. Her vivid descriptions extend to setting, making Savannah come alive for me. The secondary characters are well-drawn, particularly Phoebe’s mother and charming daughter and her mentor Dave, but also Duncan’s closest friend and his “adopted” family, who are simply delightful.
As someone who has struggled with anxiety and panic attacks myself, I both sympathized with Phoebe’s mother and felt frustrated that she allowed her illness to slowly hem her in, confining her closer and closer within her home. Though she seems happy there, it’s hard to see how that can continue if the “boundaries” within which she feels safe continue to contract. I’m grateful that I was forewarned of that potential outcome, and so kept trying to push and widen my own boundaries; I’m also very grateful to have regained my emotional balance most of the time.
I enjoyed High Noon very much despite the sometimes graphic (but never gratuitous) violence. It’s well-written and I think Roberts hits a good balance between suspense thriller and romance. I can see myself rereading the book, though since I’ve already read it once, I would probably skim past some of the more violent scenes the second time around. For those less squeamish or less prone to nightmares than myself, I recommend the book wholeheartedly.
* * *
Trigger Warning for this book: sexual assault against the heroine; vividly-described violence to both the heroine and others around her.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- The Backlist Reader Challenge 2017