Jul 18 2016 1:30pm

The Top 10 Nora Roberts Novels as Decided Upon By A Very Biased Party

Midnight Bayou by Nora Roberts

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

The Collector by Nora Roberts

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.

8. Partners

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!

6. Northern Lights ... High Noon  Northern Lights

Northern Lights by Nora Roberts

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 by Nora Roberts

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.

Source: chud

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.

Source: LifetimeTV

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:

Midnight Bayou  
The Collector  
Night Smoke  
Northern Lights  
High Noon  
The MacKade Brothers  
Montana Sky  
Blue Smoke  
Carolina Moon  











Jen is the production associate for H&H, a musical theatre nerd, and Thai food enthusiast. Tweet her or follow her on Tumblr.


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Heather Waters
1. HeatherWaters
Fun list. I can't imagine the pressure of trying to pick just 10 and then ranking them, so thanks for taking that one for the team! ;)

I remember Hot Ice being one of my favorites, though I haven't read it in years... May be time for a reread. I thiiiink, if I had to pick, I'd probably put Montana Sky as my #1. I was born in Montana but haven't been back since I was an infant, so just reading a book set there, and a Nora one at that, is always special.

With you on Carolina Moon being Most Excellent, though.

Oooh, and another one I just realized isn't on the list: The Reef! Love that one. And Hidden Riches. And True Betrayals. And the MacGregors. And and and... Argh, so many amazing books!
Lucy D
2. Lucy D
If we are only talking Nora Roberts (and not her alter-ego J.D. Robb), I would have to say my favorite is from the Bride Quartet, Savor the Moment. This is a perfect friends to lovers story. My favorite part is when she gets mad at his sisterly treatment of her and she lays a kiss on him. She walks away, leaving him stunned, saying "what was that?"
Jen Wattley
3. JenWattley
@HeatherWaters- The MacGregors is SO good. It was hard to leave off this list. And I love The Reef too. This list easily could've been Top 20.

@LucyD- I'll have to pick that one up! Haven't read it, but now I'm definitely intrigued. Thanks!
Lucy D
4. KristaH
If I was going to make a list, The Witness would definitely be in my top 2 or 3. I'd also have to have Daring to Dream from the Dream trilogy, Born in Ice from the Born In trilogy (I started my Nora obsession with one trilogy or the other), and Vision in White from the Wedding quartet. I also love Tribute (my personal favorite of the movies because holy shit is it awful without being terrible like Carnal Innocense because HOLY CRAP is that movie bad). This is what happens when you've read a woman's entire 200+ library. The choosing is impossible!
Lucy D
5. Jessie E
I always loved her categories more than the single titles, though CAROLINA MOON and MONTANA SKY were two faves. RULES OF THE GAME, NAME OF THE GAME, and LOCAL HERO I've read *many* times and of course the MacGregors and Stanislaskis are great examples of amazing family series.
Lucy D
6. Diane Benefiel
It would be way too difficult to narrow down my top ten fave Nora Roberts books. I absolutely agree about Rafe MacKade's story, I've read and reread that one many, many times. I would definitely put The Witness on the list. Abigail is such a strong heroine, and what female reader couldn't help but fall a little in love with Brooks?
7. Janga
I love Midnight Bayou. I'm really picky about Southern settings too, but Nora got both the setting and the characters right in this one.

I don't think I could pick a top ten. I'd have a tough time with a top twenty-five. Any list of mine would definitely include the Chesapeake Bay books, especially Sea Swept, the Concannon trilogy, especially Born in Ice, and the MacGregors from Playing the Odds through The Perfect Neighbor.
8. ErinMickC
No Inn Boonsboro or Bride Quartet books? I'm pretty partial to The Last Boyfriend and Happily Ever After myself. If I had to chose a standalone I'd look towards Chasing Fire or The Search!

Carolina Moon officially added to my TBR pile.
9. AmyM
Montana Sky would be my #1. I'm also partial to Birthright, The Reef, Honest Illusions, and Black Hills just to name a few. I tend to like 2nd chance romances, which many of these are.

As far as your list goes, I do have a special place for Midnight Bayou (my grandma gave me that book, it was my first Nora Roberts and therefore started the obsession).

I'm now going to have to check out Carolina Moon since it made the top of your list. And I don't think I've ever heard of Partners so that's on the list too!
Banon N
10. SB-BooksAddict
The Reef, Three Fates, The Villa, Honest Illusions, Blue Smoke, Private Scandals, The Circle Trilogy, The Gallaghers (special spot for them as the second one in the series was my first NR).
I have a preference for the older books. There's no one like NR!
Lucy D
11. Christie P
Thanks for tackling this list, and thank all of you for the comments!! Gives me an idea for future downloads ;-) But I'd have to choose Montana Sky as #1, (such great characters and setting!) and Black Hills for a solid #2. The angst between Lil and Coop lures me back for a re-read too many times to count. Loved Northern Lights and Midnight Bayou, but have to agree with the author, that book's ending was a bit off, left me hanging, but overall still quite good.
Lucy D
12. Helen T
I would have to put The Witness as my favorite, followed by The Obsession. Limiting myself to just 10 books would be extremely difficulty because the series Bride Quartet, the McGregors, Cchesaeake Bay and The Inn at Boonsboro should also be in the top 10. The only book I have hated by Nora Roberts, and haven't ever re-read is Divine Evil. I cannot like that book.
Leah Zehrung
13. Leah27
Honest Illusions! I used to re-read that book all the time! I think it's time I pull it out again. I love Tribute, too. Carolina Moon, and the Three Sisters trilogy are other favorites.
Lucy D
14. ProtocolQueen
This would be a really tough choice but a few of my favorites could have made the list: The Reef, Hidden Riches, The Search, True Betrayals, Three Fates and any of the Quinn Brothers books. I have read all of these over and over again.
Jonetta Allen
15. Jonetta/Ejaygirl
Wow! Can't believe no one has mentioned the Gallaghers of Ardmore trilogy! Loved Aiden.
Lucy D
16. Lise Tremblay
I like Nora Robert's suspense stand-alone novels. And only 4 of my favorites made your list. Mine is :

1. The Search, 2. The Witness, 3. High Noon, 4. Blue Smoke, 5. Northern Lights, 6. Carolina Moon, 7. Chasing Fire, 8. Whiskey Beach, 9. Angel Falls. I read them at least once a year.

I am due to re-read some of her 'contradiction-titled' novels which I have on my keeper shelf : True Betrayals, Hidden Riches, Divine Evil, Carnal Innocence, Public Secrets, Genuine Lies. It's been awhile, don't remember them too much so can't put on my 'favorites' list.

I've read all her past romance novels but no longer have them as keepers. And I can't say her fantasy series would be my favorites. For me now, it's suspense, or rather romantic suspense.
17. Madhuri208
Such a great list, Jen! Nora Roberts was my first foray into the world of romance and thriller and suspense all rolled into at the tender age of 12 and I remember being absolutely mesmerized by her books. My first book was her time travel series, Time and Again and I fell in love. Since then I have read so many of her books and so many are on my favourites list that I will never be able to choose just 10. But Carolina Moon, Midnight Bayou and the MacKade brothers are great picks! I still revisit them almost every year.

But I have to say my number one would be the Dream Trilogy, Daring to Dream, Holding the Dream and Finding the Dream. I think it just resonated with me because it really focused on how three women can be sisters of the heart and the men were just swoonworthy! Also special shoutout to the Stanislaskis, the O'Hurley clan and ofcourse the Gallaghers of Ardmore. I don't think I will EVER outgrow Nora Roberts. Sigh.
Heather Fowler
18. hafowler
La Nora has long been one of my writing Goddesses. I prefer her paranormals and J.D. Robb series, but I couldn't possibly make an ordered list!
Felicia Fallon
19. Uber Romance Reader
River's End is always a sentimental favorite as it's my first NR. I enjoy all of Ms Roberts' novels but of the top of my head, I like Honest Illusions, True Betrayals, Sacred Sins, Brazen Virtue, Carolina Moon, Whiskey Beach, The Chesapeake Bay Saga, The MacKades, The Stanislaskis & their extended family, The Three Sisters Island Trilogy, The Bride Quartet, The MacGregors & many, many more.
Lucy D
20. AbbyKay
I've always leaned more towards her fantasy/paranomal books rather than her suspense novels (J.D. Robb books are a totally sparate list). The very first Romance novel I read was Enchanted from the Donovan Legacy (yep, I read out of order!). I still love that series :)
Jerrie Adkins
21. filkferengi
The Garden Trilogy were the first Nora Roberts I ever read, & they're still faves. Let's say, that's when I understood why my Brit bud raced toward them in the used bookstore, when I'd expected him to run for the science fiction.
Lucy D
22. Eve1818
Honest Illusions is definitely up there as a favorite. But i love the Circle Trilogy with Morrigan's Cross, Dance of the Gods, and Valley of Silence!!
Lucy D
23. RobinRBL
#1 Chasing Fire. EXCELLENT book!
#2 The Liar !!
#3 Chesapeake Bay series
#4 Luring a Lady
#5 Inn Boonsboro
#6 The Villa
#7 Bride Quartet
#8 McKade Brothers series
Merrilee Heffernan
24. mlbh
Where are the Quinn brothers? I think Cam is the hottest hero she ever wrote. And The Witness. In her category books, I love Considering Kate. The little boy, Jack, is my favorite little boy from all of her books. And the Born In trilogy made me love Ireland before I ever went there. Thanks for a thought provoking list! And I am so impressed with the comments. No rudeness, or scathing remarks, just appreciation and comments. Wonderful!
Lucy D
25. Skyzm
I will always have a fond spot in my heart for Montana Sky. There is just something about that story about sisters, the setting, the heroes, just everything. I also really like Carolina Moon, the book and movie both but especially the book. I like the movie for Midnight Bayou and have been meaning to get the book. In second and first place are going to have to be the Three Sisters Island trilogy and the Eve Dallas books for me though.
26. bigedsgirl1
I admire you for even attempting this list of top ten. I don't know what the other nine books would be on my top ten Nora Roberts' book list, but I do know that my number one choice is and will probably always be, Honest Illusions. I have read this unforgettable story too many times to count. It made me laugh, cry, and wish the story never ends.
Lucy D
27. Fran K
The Search is my favourite followed closely by Midnight Bayou as it was the first I read. I love all the books on your list, and to be honest I haven't read one I didn't love. The recent Obsession was great too.

Adore all the J D Robb's too.
Jen Wattley
28. JenWattley
Y'all are the nicest group of commenters I've ever seen!! Thanks for all the lovely discussion!
29. BenidormBabe
Oh dear, I think that it would be easier to name my least faves, so many brilliant ones. The bride quartet was the least favourite. Loved honest illusions which was my first Nora. The Chesapeake saga too. The key series too
Heather Waters
30. HeatherWaters
@JenWattley -- What a warm welcome for you! Glad we can all bond over Nora. :)

@BenidormBabe -- Oooooh, the Chesapeake books! I love those very much.
Lucy D
31. hww
The Witness is the all time best. Also loved Montana Sky and True Betrayals. Reread them every couple of months. Have every book she ever wrote and go back and read the McKenzies often.
Lucy D
35. Caiterina
The latest book I'd rank #1 is THE WITNESS. My go-to home-comfort series is the Irish Trilogy. I also love the BORN IN Series. I always listen to books, so the reader can make or break a book. NR's publishers, for the most part, choose the best.
Carmen Pinzon
36. bungluna
I'm with@BenidormBabe; it would be easier to name my least favorite. I have to say that top of the list for me are "The Witness" and "Northern Lights".
Lucy D
37. Vickie Russell
Lots of good recommendations here, fantastic! I generally find her books are good, but not great, I enjoy them, but I don't generally love them, but I still have quite a few thousand to read. However, there are some that I really did love. I was lucky my first Nora book was Carolina Moon, I loved it. My hands down favourite though would be The Witness, followed by The Three Sister Island series, which I reread last month and loved just as much the second time, and then the Born In series.
Lucy D
38. renata t.
Nice Topic, my list .... The Bridal Quartet,The Villa, Honest Illusions,The Dream Series, and Montana Sky plus Sweet Revenge. That being said...I am off Nora for awhile because recently I have picked up on something that really bugs while I am reading and this stood out when I was recently reading The Villa. Nora OVERUSES "THOUGHT" IN HER BOOKS. Example.. as in She thought,he thought. In the Villa I counted a total of 232 OVERUSES OF "THOUGHT. This bugs because it throws my reading off and is extremely annoying. Continuity of the book is ruined and too much tell and not enough show.Love this lady glad for her history of success but I am pretty much done as a result of this. If you don't believe me TRY TO READ HERS AGAIN AND SEE HOW MUCH "THOUGHT" AND THE WAY IN WHICH SHES USES IT STICKS OUT AS A READER.
Lucy D
39. lene
Whenever I read a new Nora Roberts book, I find myself swept up in it and feel certain that this one right here is my very favourite ever. But if I ponder the question a month down the road, the first books that pop into my head are the Chesapeake Bay books, so I suspect those must be my faves, deep down. And hmmmmm, it's beginning to feel like time for a re-read, so thanks for this post! ;)
Lucy D
40. LizetteOrtega
Public Secrets and Honest Illusions are tied for my number one spot in the stand alones. I have to say that I was a huge fan of her circle trilogy.
Lucy D
41. GraceS
I could never make a list.......she writes it, under either pen name and in any category, I am buying it and reading it.
Lucy D
42. Cindy A
Replace The Collector with The Search.
Elizabeth Poteet
43. ElizabethPoteet

Also, ditto to the underrated The Villa for it's three generations of ladies in one book...

Birthright for the classic "face on the milk carton trope that made me think very hard about how I would not handle it well if I ever found out I was a stolen baby" ....

and then for Divine Evil which was the first book I ever read by Nora and made me look at tree burls differently. And small towns. And satanists.
44. Kareni
Elizabeth Poteet, I seem to recall that Divine Evil had a final revelation that left me quite taken aback.
45. flmom1957
I am so impressed you were able to make this list! And I love how we all have our different number ones! At any point in time, depending on my mood, my list would change. Based on your list I have library holds for the three books I have not read (except Montana Sky...still not sure I want to read it!)
Lucy D
46. Paty
Your list is good but I think my list it's a bit different.
I loved so much The Reef and Sweet Revenge that I CAN'T choose one over the other for the first place. I have a thing for enemies to lovers too.
My second place would be Birthright and Montana Sky as the third like your list. There are so many books that I love from Nora like Honest Illusions, Sanctuary,The Villa... I also loved the Stars of Mithra trilogy.
I haven't read Midnight Bayou and Partners but I will search them right now! :D
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