Book review: The Obsession by Nora Roberts

Tuesday, April 12, 2016 Permalink

Regular readers will know I’m a bit hot and cold when it comes to the very prolific Nora Roberts. I adore the ‘In Death’ series she writes as JD Robb and it’s one of my ‘go-to’ comfort reads. And I mostly enjoy her romantic suspense novels… as long as they weigh slightly in favour of the suspenseful elements, rather than the romance.

Book review: The Obsession by Nora RobertsThe Obsession
by Nora Roberts
Published by Piatkus
on April 12th 2016
Source: Hachette Australia
Genres: Thriller / Suspense, Romantic Suspense, Psychological Thriller
ISBN: 0349407754, 9780349407753
Pages: 456

Naomi Carson is a survivor. As a child, her family was torn apart by a shocking crime. It could have destroyed her, but Naomi has grown up strong, with a passion for photography that has taken her all around the world.

Now, at last, she has decided to put down roots. The beautiful old house on Point Bluff needs work, but Naomi has new friends in town who are willing to help, including Xander Keaton - gorgeous, infuriating and determined to win her heart.

But as Naomi plans for the future, her past is catching up with her. Someone in town knows her terrifying secret - and won't let her forget it. As her new home is rocked by violence, Naomi must discover her persecutor's identity, before it's too late.

I really loved the first part of this book. As in, love love loved it! Roberts really came out swinging and the story of Naomi’s childhood and early years is AMAZING.

The novel’s divided into sections, so we next meet Naomi after she’s bought her mammoth but dilapidated mansion and attempting to stand still and take a breather for the first time in her life.

The blurb implies that what comes next keeps us on the edge of our seat for the rest of the book, but it’s really not the case. A significant proportion of the book is allocated to Naomi’s integration into the Sunrise Cove community and the renovation of her house. Naomi seems to have shied away from any kind of entanglement in the past but finds herself with a ready-made circle of friends, including the aforementioned Xander Keaton.

I have to admit I did not initially take to Xander when he first appeared on the scene as he seemed a bit smarmy with zingers like:

I haven’t seen you before, and given you’re a serious looker, I’d remember if I had. p 95


Xander: How tall are you?
Naomi: Five-ten. And a half.
Xander: You know how to wear it. p 96 #vomit

But… he soon redeems himself and Roberts forgoes further temptation to write Xander as if he climbed out of a cheesy 70s porn flick.

In fact I loved the characters. Naomi, her brother (Mason) and uncles – who we meet in several timeframes – were wonderful. Xander grew on me; and the support cast of those involved in Naomi’s house renovation were all likeable and engaging.

After getting off to such a firecracker of a start, it was risky for Roberts to spend so long setting the scene for Naomi’s life in Sunrise Cove. And you’d think I’d be bored silly… but I wasn’t. There may have been a few eye-rolls at some of its predictability: Naomi fearful of trusting anyone; Xander determined to win her heart and trust no matter what; Naomi being a supremely talented photographer and adored by everyone who sees her work. And the whole Xander-being-an-avid-reader-and-quoting-literary-icons and not ‘just’ a mechanic was a little OTT. Especially because he also happened to be in an amazing band. *cue HUGE eyeroll*

But… I was kinda hooked by then. Plus there’s a dog.

And in the background a woman goes missing….

I guessed the whodunnit part as Roberts didn’t introduce a lot of feasible alternatives. I appreciated though that the concluding scenes didn’t include the cliched drawn-out kinda scenario we so often find at the end of thrillers (or TV shows).

As an aside, I really liked Naomi’s brother Mason and would love to see Roberts feature him in a future novel. There’s enough fodder there (the outcomes of his prison visits, for eg) to pull me back for more. Plus he was a great character.

So this was an enjoyable read by Roberts – offering up a pretty good balance between romance and the suspense, though possibly leaning a little towards the former.

The Obsession by Nora Roberts is released in Australia by Hachette on 12 April 2016.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. 


  • pamela007
    April 12, 2016

    Sounds good Deb. Will look out for it in the shops

    • Debbish
      April 13, 2016

      Roberts is always pretty consistent Pam.

  • MarthaE
    April 12, 2016

    I’m glad to see your review. I have been wondering about this. I have the same basic attitude about Nora Roberts: Love the In Death series but find the romantic suspense titles not always reliably engaging. Glad this one was successful for your reading pleasure. Thanks for sharing.

    • Debbish
      April 13, 2016

      I’ve actually not read a lot of Roberts’ (non-In Death) novels for that same reason Martha and really only (now) request ones that sound like there’s a strong suspenseful element.

  • Kathryn
    April 12, 2016

    Yay so happy you even liked the middle renovation bit. I thought it was pretty obvious from the beginning who the murderer was. Me too – I want a Mason book!

    • Debbish
      April 13, 2016

      There were really no other options (on the second serial killer front) were there? Perhaps Roberts’ could have introduced a couple of additional likely candidates or mixed up some of the locals to have some be less-nice! And yes, I quite enjoyed the renovation bits… (I surprise myself sometimes! Just read the new Pellegrino – I think you’ve just reviewed it – and very much enjoyed it… and there were no psychopathic serial killers in there at all!)

  • Rita @ View From My Home
    April 13, 2016

    Oh, I really really want to read this! I’ve read several glowing reviews recently. I too have said that Nora Roberts runs hit or miss for me, but when it’s good, it’s very good.

    I haven’t read the In Death series… except the first one. Probably the attachment to the main characters and the unusual plots are the driving force behind the gigantic readership of the Robb books. I wasn’t blown away by the first one, but then again, many books suffer from first-book syndrome. I should check out the second from my library since they have almost all the Roberts/Robb older titles. Thanks for your thoughts, Deb.

    • Debbish
      April 13, 2016

      Rita I really LOVED the opening third or so of this book. It was wonderful! It was brave and different and reminded me of what Roberts is capable of. I suspect she ‘cruises’ a bit on the In Death series. I keep coming back now for the characters but think it’s about time she mixed things up a bit for them.

I'd love to hear your thoughts