Thursday, 14 May 2015

Tribute by Nora Roberts

Tribute (2008) (Piatkus)
Nora Roberts
Grade: B-
Genre: romantic suspense
Sex scenes: mild
Source: own
TBR RBC 2015: A book by Nora Roberts 

A third generation actress and granddaughter of one of Hollywood’s greats, Cilla McGowan has very deliberately cast off her child actress persona and made a very successful business of renovating houses. Her latest project is a house that’s very dear to her heart: the house of her grandmother, the glamorous and notorious Janet Hardy. Left to ruin after her death by apparent suicide, Cilla plans to restore the house to its former glory. With the whole town invested in her project and Ford, her very hot neighbour and his dog, Spock, just next door looking on, this is the biggest project of Cilla’s career. But there’s someone in the community who wants Janet’s secrets to stay that way and they’re determined to keep Cilla from finishing the house, whatever it takes …

I am so very close to finishing what I call Nora Roberts’ ‘strong women, powerful suspense’ series, so named because these romantic suspenses were published with that tagline on the blurb and a beautifully complementary set of covers. I love this ‘set’ of books, even though they’re all standalones and have absolutely nothing to do with each other – I count a few of them in my favourite Nora Roberts titles. Tribute was a middling one – there were some fantastic parts and I loved our protagonists and their character development, but the suspense parts particularly dragged in the middle and was too repetitive.

Cilla is wonderful. She’s found her calling in property development, though many people still have fond memories of Cilla as a little girl on their TV screens. I love the attention to detail given to the renovation and you’re really taken through the house’s lifecycle from abandoned property to much-loved home. I’m a big fan of property shows like Grand Designs, The Restoration Man and Homes Under the Hammer in the UK, where the presenters follow home-owners through the journey of taking an old, derelict house, or even just a piece of land, from start to finish. Tribute tapped into a theme that I love seeing on TV, and transported it into a book, which is something that I’d never read about before, except in newspapers in ‘real life’; it was fantastic and more authors need to develop characters with these sorts of everyday jobs or hobbies. Additionally, it’s great to see Cilla at work in what is traditionally seen as a male-dominated workplace and as a female, it was empowering to read.

Similarly, I loved seeing Ford at work. He’s a celebrated comic book writer and artist, ready for a new direction when Cilla comes along. She becomes the inspiration for his next character and it was cool seeing how he takes Brid from an idea to paper. His dog, Spock, is one of the cutest dogs ever. He has a personality of his own and brings a dimension to Tribute that would really have been lacking without him. Ford is one of those heroes who falls head-over-heels for the heroine without realising it, yet embraces his feelings wholeheartedly, without question, once he realises what has happened. Cilla might be a little slower off the mark initially, as a result of a dysfunctional childhood and family life, but they really complement each other well, bringing qualities to their relationship that they never realised they missed.

Would I read Tribute again? Maybe. The suspense and mystery bogs down what was otherwise a great book and although there’s always the option of skipping over the boring bits, Ms Roberts’ writing is so intertwined that that’s almost impossible. I will definitely remember Cilla, Ford and Spock for a long time to come and if I’m ever looking at my shelves, looking for something to re-read, they’re the factors that will swing the vote in Tribute’s favour.

Images courtesy of Book Depository.

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