The Next Always (Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy #1) -
This is another book where I really, really wish we had half stars. I don't want to give it a three, but it doesn't reach four either. Sigh.Overall, this was a cute story. I liked all of the characters a lot. Even the kids, though they were written like real children, unlike most romance novels where they're like fantasy children and unbelievably sweet and unobtrusive. They didn't just magically disappear and they whined, but they were also cute. In my review of the last Nora Roberts book I read I complained about how most of her male characters in the last few years have been alike. It's good to finally see Roberts go back to writing a different kind of man. Beckett was warm, loving, and fun with the children. Kind of terse, but then so are pretty much all of her characters. It goes to show you can have a "manly" man who can be sweet and caring. One who doesn't make it seem like he's debasing himself by caring for a woman. I'm torn on the supernatural element in the story. I liked it and Lizzy, but I liked it more as background to the story rather than how front and center and real it became. It didn't ruin the story at all, but it did get to be a bit much and quite predictable in the end.The villain seemed like he was included as a way to make the story more compelling and wrap it up. So she threw in this simple plot to take care of that and to give purpose to the supernatural element. Which brings me to my biggest complaint about the story: it sort of felt like one big advertisement. Now, that's only by virtue of the fact that I was informed that in this real town is the real Inn owned by Nora Roberts. So when the story would go into long drawn out details about the process of rehabilitating the Inn and designing and outfitting the rooms (a cute idea to be sure, though I find the naming of one of the rooms for the couple from the In Death series to be somewhat tacky) it was like a neon sign saying YOU WANT TO PAY HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS TO STAY HERE, RIGHT? RIGHT?! While looking up the town of Boonsboro to figure out where in Maryland it is, I found the website for the Inn, and it is gorgeous and if I had the money I'd be staying in the Titania and Oberon room this week, but I just didn't like the feeling that the book was a vehicle for promotion.The thing is, she's Nora Roberts. She knows how to write books. So advertisement or not, flimsy villain or not, it's a solid and enjoyable read. I will definitely be reading the next two in the series, and, yes, wishing I could find a damn job so I could afford to drive up and stay in the pretty Inn.What? Like you're not susceptible to advertising? Don't you judge me.