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This is the first Nora Roberts novel I have read, yet she is one of the most prolific and successful authors in America, with over 124 novels having appeared on the New York Times bestseller list, and with over 280 million copies of her books in print. It is no surprise that this romance is an easy read, and the performance of the unabridged audiobook by Angela Dawe is extremely competent, giving the different characters distinct voices and bringing out the feeling of the words without hamming it up.
This is the second in series The Bride Quartet which is set in Greenwich, Connecticut, among a well-to-do crowd, centered on a Wedding Planning business run by four women, Emma, MacKensie, Parker and Laurel. Presumably, each of them has a romance in each of the four books of the series, and it is Emma's turn here. They have known each other since they were little girls, and now they are in their thirties. Emma is quite conscious of her age and gets very upset when she learns that a girl she used to babysit for has got engaged, while Emma is still unmarried. But she has known Jack for a long time, and she realizes she has secretly been in love with him forever. Their romance blossoms, and they are passionate for each other. Yet at the same time Jack values his independence, and does not like it when Emma leaves her make up in his bathroom. So does their relationship have a future? You can bet it does, but there's some suspense along the way.
The romance of the novel is predictable but satisfying. More distinctive is the detail of the wedding business, and all the planning that goes into making a great occasion, especially because there are so many personality clashes between brides, mothers-in-law, bridesmaids, and all the other people who feel they have a say in how it should be. Emma and her partners are independent and successful beyond their dreams in their work, and they combine that with a feminine love of romantic occasions. These women tell each other everything and act as a support system in times of need, and they want to be swept up by their man and taken in an act of passion. The men in the novel are gruff and less comfortable with their emotions, more likely to use their fists with each other rather than talk out a disagreement, but they are ultimately sensitive and emotionally available.
The novel is simultaneously saturated in old fashioned romance and set in the current world where women have to be tough and smart in order to survive. There's plenty of cursing and sex, although only Emma and Jack's first time in bed is described in any detail. Judging from reader comments at Amazon.com, it looks like fans of Nora Roberts were mostly happy with this latest novel. Personally, I couldn't identify with the characters much, mainly because their world seemed so secluded and I don't share their preoccupations. Apparently Greenwich is the richest town in Connecticut, and among the richest places in the USA; maybe that explains why in Roberts' novel the only people are white heterosexuals. Yet there's no denying Roberts' ability to tell a story and vividly depict her characters' brief inner turmoil until they find the romantic solution to their problems.
Link: Nora Roberts home page
© 2010 Christian Perring
Christian Perring, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York
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