Nora Roberts’s novels were amongst some of the first I picked up in the romance genre and I consumed them voraciously. I love the way she draws her characters, I love the way her stories fit so well together, I love the visuals she paints so vividly.
So when I got asked to make a list of my top ten Nora Roberts novels, I said, “heck yeah! Let’s do this!” Then I realized that’s really hard to do. Seriously. I’ve rewritten this list no fewer than ten times and started this ‘Top 10’ post about the amount of times.
I think I’ve finally decided on some things. I think. Maybe. Let’s see how this goes.
10. Midnight Bayou
An impulse (and a broken engagement) leads Declan to buy a home in the Louisiana Bayou. He meets Angelina who helps him discover the strange things that are happening in the house he purchased. I love this book, but I never quite felt like it was complete. Angelina pushes back against Declan’s attempts for so much of the book that I really would have loved an epilogue to complete their story. Also, who doesn't love a good ghost story?
9. The Collector
I read this book on a cruise I took earlier in the year with my mother. Lila, the book’s protagonist drew me in for a lot of reasons, but mostly because she has my dream job: professional house sitter for multi-million dollar Upper East Side homes slash YA novelist. The dream! Ashton, the hottie artist with a family of deep pockets and lots of secrets, is absolutely delicious. They’re sexy and solving a mystery together while battling their own specific set of demons. It was just a fun, quick and dirty read.
I am a sucker for enemies-to-lovers stories. I voraciously read them because when they’re done well (like they are here) the tension and strife and UST (unresolved sexual tension) makes for an incredible read. Throw in a Southern belle versus a fast talking Yankee and it’s sure to become a fast favorite of mine. Who doesn’t love rival reporters?
7. Night Smoke
I sometimes get this confused with Blue Smoke (which is definitely on the list), but Night Smoke involves a pair where the man—Ryan—is utterly unimpressed by the cool, calm, and totally collected woman—Natalie—because he’s a badass investigator who grew up in the streets and she’s an uppercrust business woman. I LOVE THIS TYPE OF COUPLE!
Northern Lights ... High Noon Northern Lights
A New Year’s Eve kiss under the Northern Lights in Lunacy, Alaska. I mean, that’s not all there is to know about this book, but isn’t that super sexy already? This novel involves two people who have their hearts set on maintaining the status quo, but an eerie death from years ago is back to haunt the small town of Lunacy, Alaska. Nate and Meg are such wonderful characters. Nate suffers from remorse and regret, Meg doesn’t want to let people in too close because she’s sure they’ll ultimately leave or disappoint or both. Then of course, things change—that kiss!— and they’re thrown into one another’s paths. They have wonderful, sometimes snarky interactions as well. This is one of those couples that I just really adore.
5. High Noon
I struggled with where to put this book because it’s really very special to me, but so is Northern Lights. Can you have two fifth place books? No? Okay then. This novel for me is different than a lot of Roberts’s others. First, the lead is this kick ass police negotiator. She’s smart, no nonsense, totally capable, and takes control of a situation that throws her directly in the path of Duncan—who loves this strong willed woman, and doesn’t try to change her, but they balance one another out. That’s something that really stood out for me because I often feel like there are power differentials a lot in contemporary romance and one party has to give way more than the other. So this book is so refreshing to me that even through her struggles—and boy does she have them—that fundamentally these two come together as partners in their relationship. That’s really beautiful to see. Also, she literally kicks ass. Literally.
4. The MacKade Brothers
The MacKade Brothers series may be the first Nora Roberts series I ever picked up. Also, I’m pretty sure I started with 3 & 4 (Devin and Shane) instead of 1 & 2 (Rafe and Jared). Devin MacKade is the town Sheriff, but back in the day, he was the town troublemaker. He’s in love with Cassie, who’s married to an abusive, no good lout. When Cassie decides to leave her no-good husband, Devin is there, all strong will and big heart to help pick up the pieces. Shane is the youngest MacKade brother, and because I read this series out of order, I was highly confused why everyone seemed so comfortable and set with one another with kids and families while Shane was off doing his own thing. He meets a Doctor and together, they figure out the strange goings on in the house that now belongs to Shane. It’s part ghost story part sexy-times. I’m so here for it.
Rafe’s story is probably my favorite. One, because I really like the name Rafe. And two, because Rafe is so angry. He left Antietam ten years prior, and comes back now the head of construction company. He’s the bad boy archetype that I love so very dearly. Also he and Reagan are beyond hot together because she’s so annoyed by him and—once again—I LIVE FOR THIS TYPE OF COUPLE!
Jared’s story is the most melancholy of the four to me, but still a lovely read. He’s the oldest MacKade brother and that really comes through in this story. He’s steady and sure, but doesn’t know how to react when faced with the extremely sexy Savannah.
3. Montana Sky
The centerpiece of this story is sisters. Sisters who don’t know about one another until their father dies. Willa, Tess, and Lily have to figure out a way to make their relationship work in order to get the fair share of their inheritance. But wait! There’s also a killer on the loose, Lily’s abusive ex to deal with, and the mounting tension between Willa and Ben. I love this story to distraction, and because of that I know I won’t do it justice, but I have to say that this book really left an impression on me because at the center of it are three very different women who are fighting to get exactly what they want out of life and that doesn’t include each other for a while. Following their growing relationship is an aspect of Montana Sky that is done so well and rings the most true out of every element in the novel. The mystery element of the novel is a little predictable, but I loved its translation to screen. Montana Sky remains my favorite made-for-TV Nora Roberts adaptation.
|Source: Heroes & Heartbreakers|
2. Blue Smoke
This book, not to be confused with Night Smoke, is excellent. As a young girl Catrina “Reena” Hale watches her families restaurant burn down. The culprits are caught and sent away, but that sparks Reena’s desire to become and arson investigator. And she makes it happen. This book has all the ‘who done it’ elements you’d expect from a romantic suspense novel, but I can honestly say that I’ve never been quite so creeped out by a villain as I was while reading this book. It’s also a lot of sexy fun with a large helping of pushy Italian family thrown in. Reena is another one of Roberts’s badass heroines and I adore her for her strengths as well as her vulnerabilities.
There’s also this crazy cute element of Bowen “Bo” Goodnight continuously missing the opportunity to meet Reena. He sees her three times in various situations and ends up calling her his “Dream Girl” because he thinks she’s a figment of his imagination—until he manages to move in next door to her.
Overall, I think the family dynamic really makes this novel for me. Reena comes from a big Italian family where the love between them is obvious, but it doesn’t stop the (loving) sniping, guilt-trip ridden episodes from occurring. There’s lots of talk about wine and food, too, so this is literally right up my alley.
1. Carolina Moon
Carolina Moon is my absolute favorite Nora Roberts novel. Full stop. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.
I love everything about this novel and I’ve reread it so many times I’ve lost count. I think this was the second Nora Roberts novel I ever picked up, and I’m so very happy that I did.
Tory Bodeen returns home to Progress, South Carolina after many years away following the death of her best friend Hope. Tory comes from a family with a lot of issues—a negligent mother and an abusive (potentially murderous) father. Her best friend Hope was murdered and most people in the town think Tory’s father is to blame for her murder. Hope’s twin sister Faith is amongst them and not entirely happy to see Tory back again though her older brother Cade certainly is.
Carolina Moon is part ghost story, part murder mystery, part redemption saga. I like the way these characters interact with one another. I like the way that the spirit of Hope lingers for Tory to follow. Tory’s abilitiesused to get her in trouble with her over religious father, but prove to be a real coup in helping solve Hope’s murder.
There are paranormal elements, a serial killer to catch, a really sexy will-they-won’t-they relationship between Tory and Cade, set against the backdrop of a small southern town. Basically this book was begging me to love it before I even opened the cover. Also! If you want to really love yourself, watch the made-for-TV movie, my second favorite Nora Roberts’s adaptation starring Claire Forlani and Oliver Hudson.
Like my list? Don’t like my list? Think something is definitely missing/should be replaced? Let me know in the comments!
Learn more about or order a copy of these books by Nora Roberts, mentioned in this post:
|The MacKade Brothers|