You know you can pretty much depend on Nora Roberts to deliver when it comes to romantic suspense. She generally gets the combination and the consistency of the ingredients right and her latest, Come Sundown, is no different. We’re offered likeable, charismatic but not-too-cheesy characters; clear and engaging writing that reels readers in; along with an enjoyable and not overly predictable plot.
by Nora Roberts
Published by Piatkus
on May 30th 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
The Bodine ranch and resort in western Montana is a family business, an idyllic spot for vacationers. A little over thirty thousand acres and home to four generations, it’s kept running by Bodine Longbow with the help of a large staff, including new hire Callen Skinner.
There was another member of the family once: Bodine’s aunt, Alice, who ran off before Bodine was born. She never returned, and the Longbows don’t talk about her much. The younger ones, who never met her, quietly presume she’s dead. But she isn’t. She is not far away, part of a new family, one she never chose—and her mind has been shattered…
When a bartender leaves the resort late one night, and Bo and Cal discover her battered body in the snow, it’s the first sign that danger lurks in the mountains that surround them. The police suspect Cal, but Bo finds herself trusting him—and turning to him as another woman is murdered and the Longbows are stunned by Alice’s sudden reappearance.
The twisted story she has to tell about the past—and the threat that follows in her wake—will test the bonds of this strong family, and thrust Bodine into a darkness she could never have imagined.
This book opens in 1991 as a contrite Alice is returning home to the family property she left three years earlier. She’s 21 and life hasn’t quite turned out the way she wanted but it’s not too late and she knows her family will forgive her for running away. Unfortunately for Alice (and her family) she hitches a lift with the wrong man… *cue dramatic music*
We’re then in the present day where we meet Bo and Cal (who’s just returned to the area after a stint away) and the rest of the Bodine / Longbow family. Bo and her two brothers get along amazingly well and are all involved in the family business along with their parents and Bo’s grandmother and great grandmother. Her long-gone aunt, Alice, is rarely spoken of and her own mother (Maureen) and great grandmother are particularly bitter about Alice doing the flit on her sister’s wedding day.
Of course we flick back and forward in time and know that Alice ‘tried’ to come home. And over time we see that her captor, Sir, transforms her from a belligerent spirited young woman into someone quite different.
And in the present two young women are dead. Because Cal’s just returned to town and a local cop has a grudge against him, he falls under some suspicion, but then there are others who are new to the ranch and resort, including Jessica – a city girl who’s become Bo’s right hand and the resort’s events manager… not to mention a potential love interest for one of Bo’s brothers.
There’s an ease with which Roberts unfurls a story. We’re briefly in the mind of a killer, but mostly we’re introduced to likeable characters with a myriad of complexities. There are a few romances on offer this time around and thankfully Roberts handles the sex scenes with a light and deft touch so there’s no prolonged foreplay (#sorrynotsorry) in terms of the oft-used will they / won’t they stuff. The plot itself was an interesting one but a little weird for me as the last book I read (The Marsh King’s Daughter) also featured a woman held captive over many years (along with her daughter).
I’m not sharing any spoilers by mentioning Alice’s return – cos the backcover blurb refers to it – and Roberts does a very impressive job at eking out her memories and her experiences. I particularly liked the sensitivity she provides via the family in reminding Alice of her past and the home (and world) she once knew.
This book is very much set in rural America and I’m not usually a fan of horses and cowboys and country music, but this was very engaging and actually quite interesting in terms of the work being done in terms of growing the ranch and resort and prepping of the horses for shows and riding lessons.
Of course the suspense in this novel is all in who the kidnapper / killer will target next and whether or not Alice is safe. And that kept me reading and reading. Until I was done. So this latest by Roberts will certainly hook you in. There’s a little bit of the ‘happily ever after’ on offer but it’s not too overpowering. Fans of Roberts (and newcomers alike) will most certainly not be disappointed.
Come Sundown by Nora Roberts was published in Australia by Hachette and is now available.
I received an electronic copy of this book via NetGalley from the publisher for review purposes.