Monday, 29 July 2013

Night Shield by Nora Roberts

Night Shield (2000) (Silhouette Books)
Nora Roberts
Grade: B+
Genre: romantic suspense
Sex scenes: mild
Source: own
Night Tales: (1) Night Shift, (2) Night Shadow, (3) Nightshade, (4) Night Smoke, (5) Night Shield

The last book of the Night Tales series brings us in a full circle, telling the story of Detective Allison Fletcher, daughter of Captain Boyd Fletcher, hero of the first book of the series. She’s proved herself capable and worthy of her rank, but this is her first proper case and so there’s pressure to shine. Six burglaries over eight weeks has seen $800,000 of easily liquidated possessions stolen, all yet to be recovered. The only link between all the victims is that they were out at a club the night of the burglary – and 5/6 were at Blackhawk’s, Jonah Blackhawk’s newest club.

Jonah owes Boyd his life. Busted at thirteen years old with a nice little gambling enterprise under his belt, he was nagged and shoved into programmes and counselling until he found himself too deep in rehabilitation to turn back. Without Boyd, there’s no way that Jonah would be the successful businessman he is today. So when Boyd asks that he allow Allison to go undercover in Blackhawk’s in an effort to catch these criminals, Jonah can’t say no.

In the end, it’s easier to pretend that she and Jonah are dating, because why else would he have hired an inexperienced waitress to work in his highest-end club? All his employees are thrilled to see their boss dating – and before long, the pretense becomes for-real. All the while, Allison is on the trail of a team of slick, well-organised thieves who are only getting better, while she remains clueless. The clock is ticking …

Night Tales has never been my favourite series, but the family get-together scene re-sparked love. I can just about keep track of the main characters and so the rest are a little hazy, but that doesn’t matter. As always, the family interactions are fantastic and their dynamic so smooth; you can see it happening before your eyes. This was a good end to a decent series.

Jonah has some really cute notions that because Boyd saved his life, it would be morally wrong for him to then sleep with Boyd’s daughter. I LOVE these moral dilemmas in romance novels – the guy (because let’s face it, it’s usually the guy) is just prolonging the inevitable and it just makes the sex even hotter. When Ally understands the reasons for his hesitancy, she can only scoff and pull out all the stops needed to seduce him. I love that she dismisses his insecurities so easily so that he can only question his own judgement, and that both of Ally’s parents feel the same.

I have a thing for NR’s cop books. That’s probably the influence of so much Eve and Roarke, and understandably so. This wasn’t by any means the greatest crime/romantic suspense novel of NR’s repertoire, but it still drew me in as all of her books do. Her writing is hypnotic in its ability to capture the reader’s attention and keep it hanging on to the very end, without even pausing for breath. I started reading Night Shield in the last few days of revision before my final exam. Now, Equity & Trusts is one of my favourite subjects because we have a fantastic lecturer, the content is pretty straightforward, and the exam is unbelievably formulaic and easy to revise for. That said, the work needed to prepare for it was sleep-depriving. Yet, knowing this and knowing that I had no excuse not to do well, given the nine days between the penultimate and last exams, I was doing everything I could to procrastinate, including read Night Shield. I managed to finish it in less than twenty-four hours. Admittedly, that partly resulted from my stubbornness to do anything but revise, but it is also an indication of the compellingness of the book, despite my need to achieve a first in this subject – but that’s NR for you.

I liked the secondary characters. In NR novels, the secondary characters are usually just as important as the protagonists, and this was certainly the case here. Jonah’s staff at Blackhawk’s are like his family and their dialogue and interactions are just as smooth as those between Ally and her family.

Night Shield would do fine as a standalone, but it’s a shame to read it without having read the other four books in the series. They don’t add anything you would hugely miss, but having read them, you’d be able to see all the subtle markers that connect Night Shield to its predecessors – because NR is fantastic that way. Plus, I just have a thing for revisiting old characters and seeing how they’ve grown up, and no author I’ve come across has ever been better at that than NR. Ally and Jonah are fabulous in their own right, and I only wish that I could return in twenty years and see how the years have treated them.

Image courtesy of Fantastic Fiction

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