I recently read one of the Queen, Nora Roberts, recent publications, The Obsession. It is difficult to say you are up to date with Ms.Roberts as she seems to constantly have a new publication out, between her various series and pseudonyms, the woman is a machine. While I have been a long term fan of Roberts books, I admittedly mostly only read her romantic suspense stories as my personal preference is to have some drama in my romance, and I’m not great at reading a purely romance novel.
This novel is honestly my favourite of her publications to date. And while I don’t think it’s perfect, the plot hit so many of my catnips (a term I have learned recently from the Smart Bitches Podcast) and made it such a hard book to follow up. I couldn’t finish a book for a while afterwards and had to move genres to recover from the greatness of this book.
Naomi Bowes lost her innocence the night she followed her father into the woods. In freeing the girl trapped in the root cellar, Naomi revealed the horrible extent of her father’s crimes and made him infamous. No matter how close she gets to happiness, she can’t outrun the sins of Thomas David Bowes.
Now a successful photographer living under the name Naomi Carson, she has found a place that calls to her, a rambling old house in need of repair, thousands of miles away from everything she’s ever known. Naomi wants to embrace the solitude, but the kindly residents of Sunrise Cove keep forcing her to open up—especially the determined Xander Keaton.
Naomi can feel her defenses failing, and knows that the connection her new life offers is something she’s always secretly craved. But the sins of her father can become an obsession, and, as she’s learned time and again, her past is never more than a nightmare away.
So to outline, this book is a romantic suspense, a mystery/horror and crime novel. Personally, I would recommend this story for people who like some romance with their suspense/crime rather than someone who needs a lot of romance in their books. As it is a very crime, mystery, suspense heavy book (can you tell I’m struggling to define the genre). I’ll leave it at romantic suspense, as my mother read this book after me and she equally loved it despite being much more of a pure romance reader.
So like I said I loved this book! So let me break down some of the ways.
This book has been written like two books in one, as the introduction to the overall mystery is a self contained mini book in the first six chapters. Admittedly this threw me initially as I wasn’t expecting it in what I assumed was a straight laced romantic suspense, I’m gonna try and avoid any spoilers, but this “mini book” is a little bit of horror crime story which sets up Naomi, our heroine’s, backstory. It is very ‘Criminal Minds’ meets ‘I Survived’, and I love crime stories so it a pro for me, but it is dark so I just want to let people know as it could be a con for others. As I mentioned my mum did read this book after me and had to come to me a couple of times just to get some reassurance that it got happier, she survived but she made it through.
(Trigger warning for anyone sensitive to stories involving rape and kidnap)
Once you get through the intro into the main story we have a new beginnings style romance with a heroine I adored. Naomi is a strong independent woman, who has a successful career and has taken on a big new project and a new life chapter, restoring and renovating a big house on the coast, settling down for the first time in her life. Naomi grows throughout the book, fulfilling everything I love about a heroine who can save herself and overcome her own fails. She is best thing about the book however there are so many aspects to love!
There are multiple romances, in my opinion, as there is not just the romance with the lovely hero but there is a dog romance, which is something I love. (Cons) As one of the few cons of the book, other than the initially slow pace, was that for a long time I found Naomi to be quite an emotionally stunted and distant character which I found difficult to grow attached to. Until the dog came along! Which is so sweet and is a real character builder and makes Naomi so personable and much more relateable. However this is not to say that the hero is outshined by the dog, Xander, our hero is great. He is a reader (swoon), a dog lover and is happy for a woman to be independent and solve her own problems. While being caring and heroic enough for the romantic suspense aspect of the book and willing to give her a kick (or a hug) when she needs it.
However along with the romance is the suspense and mystery aspect of this book which is just great. With the dark introduction I felt that there was a low laying level of tension throughout the book, just waiting to emerge. However as an avid crime watcher I love trying to figure out the mystery in a novel as I go (and preferably before we are told by the plot) and this book had me held in the mystery right until just before the reveal, And it was so good! The suspense aspect of this book is a very gory and crime heavy plot, which I felt was a little darker than can be expected for Nora Roberts but with all the great qualities of a Roberts romantic suspense.
Small plot bunny
*Now it’s not a bad spoiler but Naomi’s brother turns up in the book later on and I really want Nora Roberts to write his book! So if somehow Piatkus see this, please ask her! 😆
I loved this book and I am still trying to recover and find a new read to match up. The balance of romantic to suspense was perfect to me, as I like a dark, strong mystery but with a clear, defined romance with strong characters, especially a strong female character who loves what she does and knows who she is. Highly recommend.