Showing posts with label romance novels. Show all posts
Showing posts with label romance novels. Show all posts

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Nora Roberts’ “The Liar” Book Review

Nora Roberts "The Liar" Book Cover - Source: Amazon
Nora Roberts “The Liar” Book Cover

I’m a huge fan of Nora Roberts’ writing and have read most of her books (including her “In Death” series under her J.D. Robb nom de plume). I had purchased the audiobook of her 2015 romantic suspense novel “The Liar” as soon as it came out, but somehow it got lost in the shuffle in my Audible library. Coming across it again recently – and finally getting to listen to it with my husband – was a treat!

The things we enjoyed most about this book are that it's:
  • Authentic. One of the things we’ve always loved about Nora Roberts’ writing is her thorough research. This makes her characters and locations very believable, so it’s easy to be transported into the world she creates for each of her stories.
  • Detailed. Roberts’ characters, for the most part, are fully formed. She provides enough detail and history and weaves in enough backstory to make us feel as if we know each character personally. We feel like they have lives beyond just what’s in the story.
  • Well-paced. One of the hallmarks of Roberts’ writing is her excellent pacing. She doesn’t rush through the telling, but she also never lets the story drag. She doesn’t use adjectives for their own sake, like many other authors. Her descriptions are all well thought out and help move the story forward.
  • Dialogue-driven. Roberts is an acknowledged master of dialogue. Like all her books, “The Liar” is told largely through conversations. I’ve always appreciated her very sparing use of speech tags (e.g., “he said,” “she asked,” “they exclaimed”). She gives every character a distinctive, recognizable speech pattern, so readers can easily identify who’s saying what without naming the speakers every time. For example, Viola speaks straightforwardly and with authority, but also with the slightly formal, slightly flowery language of a proper Southern lady when she’s addressing someone outside the family; whereas Forrest, a cop to the core, speaks tersely and uses adjectives sparingly.
There were a couple of things that felt a bit off. Melody’s character seems a bit forced. She’s surprisingly one-dimensional for a Roberts character. She never shows even a hint of remorse and it’s hard to feel any sympathy for her. Also, my husband thinks Griff seems too good to be true. He always has time for Shelby and Callie. He always does the right thing. He doesn’t make even a single misstep. In a true romance, we need to follow the lines of both characters. But although Griff is the romantic foil, this is Shelby’s story, and in some ways he’s a supporting player. We never learn much about his backstory or any of his previous relationships. Fortunately, neither of those issues prevented us from thoroughly enjoying this book.

Although I also own the Kindle version, I much prefer the unabridged audiobook of “The Liar”. Narrator January LaVoy does a fabulous job of giving both the male and female characters distinctive voices. In many audiobooks, it can be hard to tell which character is speaking without speech tags, but that was never a problem with this one. LaVoy also makes the men sound like men and the women like women – a skill narrators often lack. Even more impressive is her totally believable voicing of three-year-old Callie. Her excellent narration brings an added dimension to the storytelling. This audiobook will keep you happily engrossed for 16 hours, 31 minutes.

Main Characters in “The Liar” Include:

Shelby Pomeroy Foxworth – a young wife and mother who grew up in rural Tennessee; former Homecoming Queen

Richard Foxworth – Shelby’s snobby, cold, jet-setting husband

Callie Rose Foxworth – Shelby and Richard’s three-year-old daughter

Viola MacNee Donahue – Shelby’s vivacious, ambitious, straight-shooting and wise grandmother, owner of Viola’s Harmony House Salon and Day Spa

Forrest Jackson Pomeroy – local cop and Shelby’s big brother

Ada Mae Pomeroy – Shelby’s mom

Emma Kate Addison – nurse and Shelby’s best friend

Matt Baker – Emma Kate’s boyfriend and partner in The Fix-It Guys

Griff Lott – Matt’s partner in The Fix-It Guys; originally from Baltimore

Melody Bunker – Shelby’s main nemesis in high school; second runner-up in the Miss Tennessee pageant; manager of the Artful Ridge artisan craft gallery

“The Liar” Synopsis

This novel is broken into three sections: The False, The Roots and The Real.

The False
Pretty redhead Shelby Pomeroy Foxworth learns that her husband, Richard, is missing and presumed dead. Richard Foxworth was everything Shelby wasn’t – urbane, suave, worldly, wealthy, sophisticated and well-traveled. He quickly swept her off her feet and into an unfamiliar world of glamorous jet-setting and an expensive lifestyle. When she met Richard, he had been attentive and flattering, but that didn’t last long. After their daughter Callie was born, he became increasingly insulting to Shelby and had little time and even less affection for their sweet, pretty, vivacious daughter.

Shelby discovers that everything she thought she knew about Richard was false. The man she had married, the father of her darling Callie, had been not only a liar but also a successful con man. Shelby had never suspected that Richard hadn’t purchased the fancy house in Philadelphia, elegant clothes and all the other trappings of their wealthy lifestyle outright. And he had racked up $3 million in debts that now fell squarely on Shelby’s slender shoulders. 

The Roots
Shelby sells all of Richard’s belongings and most of her own, as well as the huge, fancy house he had purchased (without consulting her) and the expensive custom furnishings she had always hated. Then she takes Callie back to Rendezvous Ridge, Tennessee, Shelby’s beloved hometown, determined to raise her daughter surrounded by three generations of Shelby’s close-knit, loving and supportive family.

Shelby moves back into her parents’ home and starts to build a new life for herself and Callie. She makes up with her best friend, Emma Kate, who has been angry at Shelby ever since she had taken off with Richard and seemingly ignored her family and friends back home. Emma Kate’s boyfriend and his business partner, Griffin Lott, have a fledgling construction and remodeling business. Griff falls hard for Shelby and Callie. He quickly wins Callie’s heart, but Shelby is reluctant to put her own on the line again or risk Callie’s getting hurt. 

As this section progresses, Shelby, Callie and Griff find themselves increasingly in danger. Shelby’s policeman brother Forrest tries to protect them while he figures out and tracks down who is responsible for murder, both attempted and successful. Things comes to a frightening head.

The Real
The last section consists of the final chapter and an epilogue. Telling you anything about them would be a major spoiler, so you’ll just have to read “The Liar” to find out what happens. It’s a worthwhile ride!



“The Liar” book reviewed by:
Margaret Schindel




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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Book Review: Debbie Macomber's A Girl's Guide to Moving On

Moving On after a Divorce is Never Easy


Debbie Macomber's new novel, A Girl's Guide to Moving On, follows the emotional journey of two women after they divorce their husbands. Nichole had watched her mother-in-law Leanne look the other way for decades while her husband Sean had serial affairs. When she found her own husband Jake was cheating on her, she filed for divorce quickly, not wanting to suffer the humiliation Leanne had lived with for thirty-five years.

Image Courtesy of Pixabay


After Nichole filed for divorce, Leanne almost immediately followed her lead and divorced Sean. He had been a good provider and had tried to be mostly discrete, but Leanne's friends at the Country Club they belonged to always let her know what a tomcat Sean was. Though he was always polite about the small things, like opening doors and helping with chairs as etiquette dictated, he had no problem with betraying Leanne where it mattered most. Though he showed Leanne affection in public, he had not privately shown any for ten years in or out of the bedroom.

Nichole had seen enough watching Leanne to know that financial security wasn't worth paying the emotional price of ignoring Jake's infidelity. She knew if she did, it would become a pattern with Jake as it had with his father. Even though she knew living separately would be hard on them all, especially their three-year-old son Owen, she refused to let Jake shred her self-esteem by treating her as his father had treated Leanne.

Leanne and Nichole were both concerned that Owen might follow in the steps of his father and grandfather if there appeared to be no consequences. Nichole's filing to divorce Jake gave Leanne the courage to finally divorce Sean. Both women faced fear and insecurity in making this change from the comfortable life they had been used to.

The Country Club was no longer a comfortable place. Edited from Morgue File image.


More than financial security was at stake. Both women were emotionally shaken and had moved from the homes they had shared with their spouses when married. Both women also needed new friends, since the old ones they'd made at the Country Club seemed only interested in keeping them up-do-date on their ex-husbands' latest exploits. Debbie Macomber shows the steps they took to get on with their lives.


The Guide to Moving On is Born


After Nichole and Leanne had filed for divorce they moved into apartments across from each other and became even closer friends than they had been before. They had common hurts and common problems. They wanted to support each other emotionally as they faced their journey into new experiences. They made a list of what they needed to do to get on with their lives and heal. They called it A Guide to Moving On. This guide contained only three items (quoted from novel):


  1. Don't allow yourself to wallow in your pain. Reach out. Volunteer. Do something you love or something to help others.
  2. Cultivate new friendships
  3. Let go in order to receive
Image created on paid version of Stencil


Both Women Form New Relationships 

Nichole and Leanne follow the steps they created for moving on well. Each found a volunteer job she loved. For each the job paved the way for a new and very different man to enter her life. Nichole met Rocco, a tow truck driver with some very uncouth friends, when he hauled her out of a ditch she had backed into. 

He asked her to return the favor by helping his teen-age daughter, the result of a one-night stand, learn to dress appropriately enough to stay out of trouble. He endeared himself to Nichole's son Owen by giving him a tow truck driver uniform and letting him "drive" a real tow truck. It's obvious to the reader a relationship is developing. But Rocco had a criminal record. After becoming responsible for his daughter, he had turned his life around to the extent that Nichole  trusted him. 

Photo Credit: Don Hankins, Creative Commons 2.0


His tattoos and rough manner would not have made him welcome at the country club, but Nichole could see that under his rough exterior he had a good heart. He still occasionally hung out with his biker pals at bars, but he now owned the tow truck company he used to work for and he hired some other ex-cons who needed a second chance to become good citizens. None of them disappointed him. 

Meanwhile, Leanne, who had a master's in education, took a volunteer job in night school teaching English as a foreign language. One of her students, Nikolai Janchenko from the Ukraine, was about her age. He adored her and began to bake her bread as a sign of love. 

Bread image from Pixabay


 He was a widower whose wife had died of cancer years ago. Gradually they began to date. Leanne began to return his affection. 

Both Relationships Reach a Crisis Point


Just as the reader is getting ready for a happy ending for Leanne and Nichole, relationship disasters strike both of them. Leanne had promised Nikolai she would never again do things for Sean like clean his house or help him. Then Sean got terminal cancer, his other women ran from him, and Leanne felt she needed to step in. She could not simply desert him in his time of trouble after so many years of loving him. Nikolai stopped seeing her and even dropped the English class. Leanne was broken hearted. 

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

About the same time Jake threatened Nichole that if she did not stop seeing Rocco, he would file to take custody of Owen from her. He had discovered Rocco's criminal record and insisted he was a bad influence on Owen. Nichole could not risk losing Owen. Without revealing the reason why, she told Rocco she could not see him anymore. He indicated he was walking out of her life forever, since he believed Nichole thought he wasn't good enough for her after all. Owen can't understand why his pal Rocco isn't visiting him anymore. 


My Review of A Girl's Guide to Moving On



I picked this up at the library in the new book section when the ebook I was reading couldn't keep me awake. I had fled the noise of workman at my house and wanted to read something that would interest me enough to keep me from falling asleep before I could go home. Debbie Macomber got me interested in Leanne and Nichole from the first page. 

Although both Leanne and Nichole divorced their husbands, they felt they had no other choice because of the infidelity. Neither believed it would stop. But the divorces still hurt them and left them grieving the loss of their marriages. Neither was really looking for a new relationship when Rocco and Nikolai walked into their lives. Both women were courageous and supported each other emotionally as they faced an uncertain future and the problems in dealing with the changing relationships.

 Macomber's portrayal of their struggles and their triumphs is emotionally realistic. Although the book is heavy, some of the minor characters added humor to lighten it up. Owen is a precious little boy who reminded me of my own when he was the same age.

I liked that neither woman took divorce lightly and neither violated her moral standards or set a bad example to her children, even though they did face temptations. I appreciated that. I was also impressed by each woman's desire to do the right thing, even when it hurt.

I think women going through the aftermath of a divorce will appreciate and probably identify with Leanne and Nichole as they attempt to get on with their lives. Those of us who are happily married will learn more about what those whose marriages failed go through so we can be understanding and supportive.

If you are a Debbie Macomber fan already, you will find this book a bit different than her usual romances, but you won't be disappointed. I won't spoil it by revealing the ending, but I found it satisfactory. I did not cry after reading it. I don't think you will, either. I wish there were a sequel. These are some of the other Debbie Macomber books I have enjoyed.



Here are the reviews I have written about these Debbie Macomber books.



Find more of my book reviews at Bookworm Buffet.

See the book reviews from our other contributors at Review This! here. 


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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Review of the Rose Harbor Inn Novels by Debbe Macomber

Introduction to the Rose Harbor Series


I'm a sucker for stories with a bit of romance that leave a lot to the imagination . I like watching people in complicated relationships work through their problems. I am drawn to beautiful settings. I especially like having protagonists I wouldn't mind inviting to sit around my own dinner table. The books I have read so far in the Cedar Cove Rose Harbor Inn Series are Book 1, The Inn at Rose Harbor, Book 2, Rose Harbor in Bloom, and Love Letters, Book 3These books by Debbie Macomber, all have the elements I mentioned above.



Reviews of Two Rose Harbor Inn Novels by Debbe Macomber



Meet Widow Jo Marie Rose, Innkeeper 


The Inn at Rose Harbor opens with Jo Marie Rose, recently widowed, introducing herself. She is still grieving over the loss of her husband Paul, who had gone down in a helicopter while serving in Afghanistan. She had purchased a bed and breakfast inn in Cedar Cove off the coast of Washington as sort of therapy to keep her busy and involved with life. She hired a handyman, Mark Taylor, on the recommendation of a friend, though she knew almost nothing about him, to help her make a sign and plant a rose garden. He turned out to be very competent in helping her make the necessary repairs, but he was gruff, often a bit rude, and never wanted to talk about himself or his past. 

Review of the Inn at Rose Harbor by Debbie Macomber
Buy The Inn at Rose Harbor
In the The Inn at Rose Harbor, the first book in the Cedar Cove Rose Harbor Inn series, Jo Marie meets her first two guests. Neither wanted to be in Cedar Cove, but both felt obligated to be there and were dreading what they had to face. Both had grown up in Cedar Cove and left. Joshua was back to tend to his step-father who hated him but was about to die. A neighbor who had been looking in on him, Michelle, an old high school friendof Joshua's, had called to say he was needed to help get Richard, Joshua's step-father, signed up for Hospice. 

Richard resisted  help from anyone. Richard didn't even want Joshua to be there. Michelle had suggested she go with Joshua for his first visit or he might not even get it. Richard had kicked Joshua out of the house just before he had graduated from high school. He had been good to Joshua's mother, who had loved him, but she had died of cancer not long before Joshua left. He loved his own son, Dylan, but seemed to hate Joshua, with whom Dylan got along well. Richard had accused Joshua of stealing two hundred dollars from him, would not listen to Joshua's denials, and had kicked Joshua out. The one who really stole the money was Dylan. Dylan had later died in an accident. Richard had been alone ever since, seeming to hate everyone and everything. He started neglecting his house, and even the yard he had always cared for. Joshua dreaded the reunion, since he knew he would be unwelcome. Joshua was hoping he could retrieve some of his personal belongings he was not allowed to take when he had to move out, as well as his mother's Bible and some other parts of his family history before his mother married Richard. 

Abby was coming to Cedar Cove for her brother's wedding. She hadn't been back since she had left for college after a car accident had killed Abby's best friend, Angela. Abby had been driving. She blamed herself and believed everyone in town blamed her, too. Angela's parents had made it clear they hated her and had called her a murderer when she tried to see them after the accident. They had not even let her in. She dreaded seeing anyone she knew, and she hadn't even seen her parents much since they had moved to Arizona and she had moved to Florida when they began to feel rejected by the their friends in Cedar Cove. 

While her guests go about their business, Jo Marie is learning more about the town and meeting new friends, including the librarian,and the owner of the other bed and breakfast in town, who gives her some tips. She also lets readers know how she met her husband Paul, and how he died, and how he sometimes still seems to be right there with her. One of her new friends encourages her to adopt a dog from the shelter, and she comes home with Rover, who seems to have chosen her, and is a very different sort of dog than the one she had intended to bring home. 

By the end of The Inn at Rose Harbor, Jo Marie is feeling more secure about being an inn keeper and believes Paul approves. Mark is working on her sign and has promised to put in her rose garden in the spring. Rover has settled in. Joshua stays a couple of days longer than he had planned after Richard's death with the intent of getting to know Michelle better, and Abby had not only been welcomed by some old friends, but has picked up a relationship with a friend of her brother's she had dropped along with everyone else after the accident. 

The body of the book deals with all the details, heartaches, and steps to healing that took place, details which readers won't want to miss. It's not the end that's important, but all the action leading up to it. This book is the perfect preparation for reading Love Letters,the third book in the Cedar Cove Rose Harbor Inn Series. Each book can stand alone, since only the residents of the town, Jo Marie, and Mark, remain the same. The guests are always different so that the readers don't have to remember them from book to book. When I read Love Letters, I actually thought it was the first book and that The Inn at Rose Harbor was a prequel. That's why I read the third book first. Amazon set me straight, so this afternoon I got the second book, Rose Harbor in Bloom, I read it, and I enjoyed it as much as the others.

Love Letters



Review of Love Letters by Debbie Macomber
Buy Love Letters
At the beginning of Love Letters, Jo Marie introduces herself again, sharing some details that were not in the preceding book. She tells us about an old sweatshirt of Paul's she often wore for comfort, and a letter he had asked a friend to deliver in case anything ever happened to him. She had read the letter once, and put it away, since it made her miss him all the more.

It still bugs Jo Marie that she cannot find out even the simplest facts about Mark, even though it appears she found out a bit more in the first book than she seems to know in this one.  He tells her nothing in response to her many questions and beats a hasty retreat if she keeps asking   

As the book begins,Jo Marie is expecting two parties who made reservations, and she is mulling them over. The first, Ellie Reynolds, had made a reservation, then canceled it, and then rebooked. She wondered why Ellie seemed to be so indecisive. Maggie Porter, on the other hand, seemed wonderfully happy and appeared to be looking forward to celebrating an anniversary weekend.

Rover, Jo Marie's comfort dog, has by now, become Jo Marie's friend and constant companion. Rover always lets Jo Marie know when someone has arrived, and he gets along well with the guests, who often enjoy petting him. He and Mark also get along well.

Mark is in the process of building a gazebo, and Jo Marie worries that he will take his time about completing it as he did with the rose garden. She gets the feeling that Mark does as he pleases and that her jobs often seem to be last priority with him She is determined to find out more about his past and plans to drill him again next time she bakes cookies to bribe him with.

As the new guests arrive, Jo Marie learns that Ellie, who is happy to talk, is meeting Tom, someone she met on the internet and has been corresponding with, for the first time. She also learns that Ellie has a very controlling mother who texts her and calls every few minutes and who was against her meeting Tom. Ellie's father, whom she hardly remembers, left her mother, Virginia Reynolds, when Ellie was very young. It seems Virginia's parents thought he wasn't rich enough to marry Ellie, and they had already picked out someone else. Ellie has always wondered why her father never wrote to her or tried to see her. She believes he has abandoned his family, and Virginia has given her that impression.

When Maggie and Roy Porter arrive at the inn, Jo Marie can tell from the beginning that something is wrong. Roy seems angry and abrupt. Maggie apologizes for Roy's bad mood, saying he hadn't want to take the time off work to come. The reader learns the truth watching them talk in their room. They have come to try to save their marriage. A few months ago, Roy had been emotionally intimate with a sales rep for one of his suppliers and Maggie had found out. She was so upset she had left, gone to a bar, gotten drunk, and had a physical affair with a stranger who bolstered her wounded ego. Neither Roy nor Maggie can get past that.

Maggie has brought a love letter Roy had written her after she had first broken up with him when they were going together. She had learned he'd gone to a strip club with friends. It had crushed her and destroyed her trust in him, while he considered it just fun that didn't mean anything. Roy's letter had caused her to weep because she really did love Roy, and they got back together and eventually married.

This weekend at Rose Harbor Inn was the first time they had been away together since their two young sons had been born. As the book moves on, it appears Maggie and Roy may resolved their differences, until another complication appears that Roy seems not to be able to handle. It is the usually silent Mark, strangely enough, who turns the tide.

When Tom picks Ellie up, it appears the two are really connecting. Their first dinner date goes well, followed by a romantic walk on the beach. Tom has invited Ellie to go sailing with him the next morning, and he says after that he has a surprise for her, and in spite of her begging, he won't give her a clue as to what it is. Alert readers may pick up a few hints, but when the surprise is revealed, it completely shakes Ellie's world and she wants nothing more to do with Tom, whom she thinks had just used her. She is blaming herself for not listening to her mother.

Jo Marie and Rover provide a listening ear and comfort to both Ellie and Maggie. Then Virginia Reynolds appears to complete the party. Overall, it is a healing weekend, but you'll have to read the book to watch the characters put their lives back together. At the end, only one relationship has not resolved itself the way I would have liked.


My Recommendation


I recommend these books to anyone who likes well-written romances that could actually happen. The complications seem natural instead of contrived as they are in some novels. Instead of existing only in the character's minds, they are real obstacles in relationships instead of the “He or she could never love me because _________” variety, where a character has seen or heard something that plants a wrong idea. 

These books are free from steamy explicit scenes. They are about love and romance and genuine relationships rather than casual sexual encounters. 


I am eager to read the next books in the series, Silver Linings, and Sweet Tomorrows, which is brand new. I hope it will resolve the relationship that was left up in the air in Love Letters. If you're ready for the perfect romance to read on the beach or on the plane or when you just want to relax at home, order The Inn at Rose Harbor today. You won't be sorry. Better yet, get the five book series, now out in Kindle form.


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