Whiskey Beach (Nora Roberts)

February 22, 2016 Book Reviews 3 ★★★★½

Whiskey Beach (Nora Roberts)Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts
Published by Putnam on Apr. 16, 2013
Genres: Romantic suspense
Pages: 484
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library
Goodreads
four-half-stars
Also by this author: Dark Witch, Shadow Spell, The Collector, Blood Magick, Night Moves, Jewels of the Sun

For more than three hundred years, Bluff House has sat above Whiskey Beach, guarding its shore - and its secrets.

To summer tourists, it's the crown jewel of the town's stunning scenery. To the residents of Whiskey Beach, it's landmark and legend. To Eli Landon, it's home...

A Boston lawyer, Eli has weathered an intense year of public scrutiny and police investigation after being accused of murdering his soon-to-be ex-wife. And though there was never enough evidence to have him arrested, his reputation is in tatters as well as his soul. He need sanctuary. He needs Bluff House.

While Eli's beloved grandmother is in Boston, recuperating from a nasty fall, Abra Walsh has card for Bluff House, among her other jobs as yoga instructor, jewelry maker, and massage therapist. She is a woman with an open heart and a wide embrace, and no one is safe from her special, some would say over-bearing, brand of nurturing - including Eli.

He begins to count on Abra for far more than her cooking, cleaning, and massage skills, and starts to feel less like a victim - and more like the kind of man who can finally solve the murder of his wife and clear his name. But Bluff House's many mysteries are a siren song to someone intent on destroying Eli and reaping the rewards. He and Abra will become entangled in a centuries-old net of rumors and half-truths that could pull them under the thunderous waters of Whiskey Beach...

Passion and obsession, humor and heart flow together in a novel about two people opening themselves up to the truth - and to each other.

Review

Whiskey Beach is a well-plotted romantic suspense novel with just enough danger to keep me turning pages, but not the kind to give me nightmares. I stayed up late reading it, totally engrossed in the characters and the slow unfolding of truth.

I love books where the hero or heroine has been falsely accused and has to clear their name, and Roberts handles that trope very well in this book. Eli’s feelings – sadness, anger, defeat, distrust – are all believable and realistic, as is his gradual but determined climb back into the light. And I adore Abra, who is warm, caring, a true healer, and who knows firsthand what it’s like to put your life, yourself together after being broken. She doesn’t take any nonsense from Eli, but she’s not perfect; she has vulnerabilities and some leftover baggage from something in her past, though she fights to eliminate the latter. The two of them are really good for each other, and their dialog – especially Abra’s – is straightforward and honest, even tart at times:

“You should wear a tie.”

“A tie?”

“Normally I don’t see the point in a man putting a noose around his neck, which ties are, essentially. But you should wear a tie. It’ll make you feel stronger, more in control. More yourself. Plus you have a whole collection upstairs.”

“Anything else?”

“Don’t get a haircut.”

Once more, she simply baffled him. “No haircut because?”

“I like your hair. It’s not lawyerly, but it’s writerly. A little shaping if you absolutely feel it’s necessary, and which I could actually do for you myself but–”

“No, you absolutely couldn’t.”

“I could on the element of skill. Just don’t whack it into the suit-and-tie lawyer look.”

“Wear a tie, but keep the hair.”

“Exactly. And pick up some flowers for Hester. You should be able to find tulips by now, and they’d make her think of spring.”

“Should I start writing this down?”

She smiled as she came around the island. “Not only looking better, but feeling better. You’re getting some sass back that’s not just knee-jerk temper-based.” She brushed at the lapels of his sport coat. “Go pick out a tie. And drive safe.” She boosted up, kissed his cheek.

“Who are you? Really?”

“We’ll get to that. Say hi to your family for me.”

There are some wonderful secondary characters, from two of the police detectives to Eli’s teenage flame Maureen, who is Abra’s best friend, but the best of them is Eli’s grandmother. She’s a spirited, wise, forthright older woman — something like what Abra might become, in time. I really admired her determination to recover fully from the fall that almost killed her, and her practical encouragement of Eli; she sympathizes but never coddles him.

As for the plot, it is just complicated enough to satisfy and keep me guessing — correctly, as it turned out. A hostile, obsessed cop and a bereaved family both out to prove Eli guilty add some tension, and the legend of a pirate treasure adds a touch of romance of the other sort, but it was Abra and Eli’s characters and growing relationship that really pulled me in. The New England coastal village setting was the icing on the cake.

All in all, Whiskey Beach is just the sort of romantic suspense I really enjoy: neither too graphically violent nor delving into dark, twisted psychology, but a gripping story with strong characters and a vivid and enticing setting. I highly recommend it.

four-half-stars

About Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts was born in Maryland and educated in Catholic schools. She married young and worked as a legal secretary until her sons were born. In 1979, faced with a blizzard and “a dwindling supply of chocolate”, she sat down and began to write. ‘Irish Thoroughbred’ was published two years later. 30 years and over 210 books and novellas later, Roberts is one of the most popular writers of romance, romantic suspense, and (as J. D. Robb) mystery around.

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