The Next Always by Nora Roberts

Finished reading The Next Always, the latest from prolific author Nora Roberts.  Nice book.  Maybe a little too nice?  Lovely softcover book, gentle storyline.  I was just expecting a little more “sparkle”, along the lines of some of her other works such as Black Hills, Angels Fall or Northern Lights.  In fairness, though, the book is a pleasant, romantic read. 

It tells the story of the Montgomery family – brothers Beckett, Owen and Ryder and their eccentric mother – all of whom are immersed in renovating a historic hotel and turning it into a bed and breakfast.  It is soon to become The Boonsboro Inn (based on the fictional town of Boonsboro).  While following the Montgomerys as they prepare the Inn, readers also are introduced to bookseller Clare Brewster, who has returned to her hometown to raise her 3 sons after her husband’s passing in Iraq.

Soon, building takes on a double meaning, as the Inn takes shape and a romance builds between former high school mates Clare and Beckett.  Roberts has a wonderful ability to coax readers into caring about her characters, so even though the overall tone of the book is mild, it’s still a very enjoyable reading experience.  There is a sub-plot involving a resident ghost at the Inn, and a potential stalker, but they are underplayed and almost come too little – too late for much tension.  Still, it’s well worth the read, and is part of what will become The Inn Boonsboro Trilogy, with The Last Boyfriend and The Perfect Hope to follow.  There’s a large cast of characters in this first book and it’s easy to see how they will be featured as the trilogy unfolds.  My advice is to relax, settle in for a cozy story and look for what I’d call “traditional” Nora Roberts another time.

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