Review #96 Chesapeake Blue by Nora Roberts

Chesapeake Blue, by Nora Roberts own admission on the dedication page, was written several years after the original Quinn brothers trilogy because of all the readers who kept asking her when she was going to tell SETH’s story.

This amazing 4th novel in the Quinn trilogy… which became known as the Chesapeake Bay Saga instead, finally wraps up the tale of three older brothers, bonded by love instead of blood, who raised a young boy to manhood after the death of their adoptive parents.

Chesapeake Blue is a wonderfully written and heartwarming return to a familiar place and beloved characters.  Seth Quinn has now grown into a talented and world-famous artist, yet he is harbouring a dark secret from his family… one that has kept him from returning home for years.  Sick at heart, cynical and soul-weary, he returns to the one place he can call home after living in Europe to try to face the past that has haunted him all his life… Will he be able to tell the people he loves most the truth about what his birth mother has continued to do to him?  Can such a scared and scarred young man find love in the arms of a wealthy young woman he is longing to paint?

Encouraged by fans to tell this tale at last, Nora Roberts weaves an amazing tale of redemption and love.  As an artist myself, I loved the descriptions of Seth getting lost in the act of painting.  I am sure that Nora Roberts has had that happen to her with writing as well, because it captures that feeling so well.  This story does a fabulous job of tying up the loose ends that you didn’t even know were left over from the original trilogy, but maintains the same edgy look at the seedier side of life and how love, along with the truth, can finally heal the most wounded of hearts.

Chesapeake Blue, Paperback format, 357 pages, published in 2002 by Jove Books

Leave a comment

Filed under Worth Reading

Review #95 Inner Harbor by Nora Roberts

Inner Harbor is the third novel in Nora Roberts’ sweeping the Chesapeak Bay Saga and the original end to the story.  It chronicles the love story between the last of these 3 strong men, who honoured the legacy of love shown to them by the couple who adopted them, Raymond and Stella Quinn, by taking care of Seth, the youngest boy Ray Quinn took in to save.

 

Phillip Quinn left the harsh realities of his life behind in his teens, but this novel shows that old scars can still run deep beneath the surface and that trust can be difficult for someone who has been badly hurt before.  Now he has given up his comfortable life in Baltimore to commute back and forth to Maryland’s Eastern Shore and the home in which he grew up.  Phillip and his two brothers are trying to raise Seth and get their fledgling boat-building business off the ground.  The insurance company is trying to claim that Raymond Quinn committed suicide by driving his car into a telephone pole and Seth’s biological mother is threatening to take Seth back unless the Quinn brothers pay her more money than their father did.

Into the fray of this trilogy story line comes the heroine, Dr. Sybill Griffin.  Sybill not only happens to be a renowned urban anthropologist and psychologist, she is also Seth’s aunt and may hold the key to keeping Seth safe.  The only problem is that for all her perfect appearance and upbringing, she is hiding scars of her own that cause her to withdraw to the role of observer.  Will Philip hate her once he discovers who she truly is?  Will she find the courage to get involved? Will she finally see her sister, Gloria, for the manipulator everyone else knows her to be?

Inner Harbor is the perfect example of how strong a writer Nora Roberts can be.  She handles some of the most troubling scenes with a wry sense of humour that  can soften life’s harsher realities for the reader and portray truly strong characters who refuse to give up against incredible odds.  Perhaps this is why so many of her books take up space on my shelves.  When the news of the world seems to get too somber, I can pull out one of her incredible stories and remind myself that hope and love go a long way to lighting up the darkest night.

Inner Harbor, Paperback format, 324 pages, published in 1999 by Jove Books

Leave a comment

Filed under Worth Reading

Review #94 Rising Tides by Nora Roberts

Rising Tides is the second novel in Nora Roberts stories about the Quinn brothers.  It was originally written as a trilogy about 3 strong men, adopted by a remarkable couple from their  troubled pasts, who carry on the legacy of love by trying to look after 10 year old Seth after Ray Quinn is killed in a car accident.  There is a mystery to be unraveled as the Quinn brothers begin a boat-building business together and a loving environment in which Seth can leave his own haunted life behind, just as they did before him thanks to Stella and Ray Quinn.

Ethan is the steady, dependable Quinn brother.  He stayed in the area, never moving away as his brothers did when they grew older.  Solidly built, he harbours a scared little boy inside, one who feels unworthy to admit the love he has been carrying around in his heart since his teens because of his tainted and damaged past.

Now as Ethan faces the growing responsibility for this new brother, one who has known his own share of sorrows and darkness, will both Quinn brothers find a measure of healing and acceptance?

Rising Tides reminded me of what great character writing Nora Roberts is capable of, especially when dealing with difficult subject matter amid the love story.  This is a sensual, honest look at how innocence can be redeemed and how love can go a long way to healing the deepest wounds within us all.

Rising Tides Paperback format, 330 pages, published in 1998 by Jove Books

Leave a comment

Filed under Worth Reading

Review #93 Sea Swept by Nora Roberts

The thing about diving into any Nora Roberts book is that you know you’ll be entertained by  wonderful love stories, memorable characters and moments that make you laugh out loud or tear up.  Her novels take up a large shelf in my library, carefully sorted into the sets and trilogies that have made her so renowned the world over.

Sea Swept begins the saga of the Quinn family and is the first book in one of my favourite groups of books she’s written, barring the Born In Fire, Ice and Shame series or the Jewels of the Sun, Tears of the Moon, Heart of the Sea stories.

 

Sea Swept introduces us to Cameron, Ethan and Phillip Quinn, three boys raised to men by a very patient couple who not only gave them their family name, but also rescued them from the ruins of their different pasts.  The series begins with the death of Ray Quinn and the unraveling mystery of why he had added another  “Lost Boy” to the family when his other three were grown and his wife had succumbed to cancer.  Social worker, Anna Spinelli, is sent to investigate the case of Seth DeLauter to see if he should be placed in foster care but finds the Quinn brothers as a united front, determined to honour what their parents had done for them by working and living together to help raise their “brother”.

This series pulls no punches when it comes to describing the worst parts of the Social Services network that tries against impossible odds to deal with the darkest part of our world.  It also provides a wonderful and poignant love story as well as the beginnings of a mystery that leaves readers hungry for the next book.

What I love most about a Nora Roberts novel is that I can escape into an enjoyable adventure that won’t leave my head hurting or my soul feeling too sore.  It is like a warm bath or a favourite pair of cozy pajamas… perfect to slip into as the season grows colder and the days grow darker.

I’d forgotten just how much I loved this book until I reread the first few chapters.  That is one of the most wonderful thing about having so many books around the house, just waiting to be read… no matter how few or how many times.

Sea Swept, Paperback format, 330 pages, published in 1998 by Jove Books

Leave a comment

Filed under Worth Reading

Review #92 The Sleeping Beauty by Mercedes Lackey

When I found this book on sale at a local bookstore, I grabbed it to add to this challenges reading pile, especially as a contrast to the Godmother books written by Elizabeth Scarborough.  Both women have found unique ways of dealing with traditional fairy tale themes in a humourous and most UNtraditional way.  Unlike the last review, this novel actually IS a Harlequin novel since the company owns the Luna Books Division that publishes these fantasy novels… but they are a far cry for the standard format that fills so many bookstore and library shelves.

The Sleeping Beauty falls into the series known as  “A Tale of the Five Hundred Kingdoms” which began with the The Fairy Godmother in 2004. The theory behind the series is an interesting one.  There are 500 kingdoms where Tradition has become a mindless and powerful force that seeks to push characters into the legendary fairy tale roles.  The only defense against utter and total chaos are the Godmothers.  Women who know how to coax the Tradition into certain outcomes through magic, wit or sheer dumb luck.

The Sleeping Beauty deals with a wonderfully funny mix of all the sleeping maiden legends from Snow White and Sleeping Beauty to the more obscure Valkyrie Fire Maiden stories.   Rosamund is a princess whose life has fallen apart at 16 thanks to the Tradition killing off her mother.  After a Huntsman chases Rosa into the woods and tries to kill her, The Fairy Godmother of her Kingdom, who has long befriended the family, tries to bend Tradition to her will by disguising herself as someone else and assuming the role of the Evil Stepmother.  After taking the princess into her confidence and revealing the ruse, they decide that the best solution might be to stage a “Sleeping Beauty” event .  The only problem is that TWO handsome men show up in the clearing at the same time.  With the sudden death of the King on the borders, invasion or conquer seems imminent.  How can a young woman and a desperate Fairy Godmother keep their enemies at bay and still satisfy the Tradition’s longing to create a very Happy or Unhappy ending?

Mercedes Lackey knows how to create great characters and this was one of her funniest adventures yet.  Though the subtle and not so subtle humour may not come as naturally to her as writers like Tanya Huff, she does a wonderful and entertaining job of constantly turning the Fairy Tales we all know and love upside down, sideways and inside out.  I found myself laughing out loud so many times during this story that I may have to go back and reread some of the earlier books in the series.  Since each one stands alone, I can just pick and choose which Fairy Tale I’d like to see her mangle… and I can’t wait to hunt down the newest one in this series Beauty and the Werewolf!

The Sleeping Beauty, paperback format, 408 pages, published in 2010  by  Harlequin’s  Luna Books division

Leave a comment

Filed under Worth Reading

Review #91 Their Frontier Family by Lyn Cote

I forgot a book I was in the middle of reading during one of my recent Writers In The Schools Visits.  I checked into the hotel and discovered this oversight before I headed off to supper with a friend.  Since I needed to pick up a few other items, I stopped at the nearby Walmart to check out the magazine section.  Compulsive readers can sometimes survive a reading craving that way.  Selection being what it was mid-month, I wandered over the the book section for something small and quick.

I thought I might make it through this whole year without a Harlequin fix.  Though this is not a book by that ever so famous publisher, Their Frontier Family does fit into the standard format, appearance and formula… except that it was both Historical and Religious!

I picked it up on a whim since I am still a bit of a Little House on the Prairie girl at heart.  Since sleep is sometimes hard to come by for me in any hotel, I decided to see if the story would  hold my attention.  Just after midnight, I had inhaled the book and was tired enough to sleep well until the morning.

Their Frontier Family deals with an unwed mother and former Saloon Girl who was taken in by a small Quaker community.  Sunny still feels as if many of the members blame her for the life she was born into and dreams of better for herself and her small daughter.  Noah Whitmore earned the wrath of his Quaker father when he chose to go off and fight in the Civil War.  Now he wants to start a new life in Wisconsin and offer Sunny a fresh start if she goes with him as his wife.  He proposes to the lonely woman even though he believes that the war destroyed his ability to love or feel joy again.

The story deals with how these two lonely souls find their way back to love with each other and forgiveness through God in a way that was tender and unique without being as pushy as some of the more fundamentalist Christian romance novels I have read in my life.  The plot felt a bit constrained by the length and format allowed in this type of story, but it was an enjoyable read that made a hotel stay bearable and added one more book to my challenge.

Their Frontier Family, paperback format, 279 pages, published in 2012  by  Love Inspired Stories

Leave a comment

Filed under Ok Read

Review #90 The Heritage of Hastur by Marion Zimmer Bradley

When it was first published in 1975, The Heritage of Hastur was proclaimed to be Marion Zimmer Bradley’s best novel thus far, the longest and most intricate of her saga… destined to become her masterpiece.

Thanks to a wonderful friend in Toronto, who loaned me a copy from her personal Darkover collection, I have at last been able to read this detailed and sweeping part of the planet’s history for myself.  Much of what has always been alluded to in other novels now makes sense and I have a deeper appreciation of the nuances of several characters than ever before.

 

The Heritage of Hastur is partly about how Lew Alton comes to be trapped in the web of the Sharra Matrix, which has repercussions for he and his family from then on, and party about the coming of age of Regis Hastur.  This is the novel in which the famous and beloved character grows from young man to leader, giving up some of his dreams for the sake of his planet.

I cannot believe it has taken me so long to read this key piece of Bradley’s Darkover legacy, but it was well worth the wait.  Now I just have to try to track down a copy for my own library eventually.  Thank You, Christine!

The Heritage of Hastur  paperback format, 381 pages, published in 1975 by  DAW Books

 

1 Comment

Filed under Worth Reading