Homeport - Nora Roberts
I feel like I need to keep checking the book and the book page to make absolutely sure this was Nora Roberts. I've never disliked one of her books as much as I disliked this one. The plot itself was intriguing and for the most part done well (outside of my major issue with the book). I liked the unusual view into the art world, and the build up of the central mystery. I mostly liked the reveal of who was behind everything. I thought I had the situation pegged after a somewhat out-of-left-field revelation, but there was yet another change-up that kept it somewhat surprising. However, there was a part of it that is so skeevy and the real weight of what it meant seemed to not register with the characters at all. (Really no one else had a reaction to that? What is going on? I was cringing and screeching a little and I'm seeing no mentions in other reviews. Really?). In the end it was the execution of the characters that made this book painful for me and ultimately ruined the story.The worst of them was Ryan Boldari. I'm sure the "thief with a heart of gold" has been done and done well, but here it wasn't. He was insufferably arrogant, selfish, and mentally unbalanced. From thinking his profession was perfectly fine because it was a "god-given talent" (an insipid notion supported by his entire family who I think was actually a breeding ground for mental instability), to him truly believing what he stole belonged to him. He acted like there was a warranty of merchantability on the items he stole, and that Miranda "owed" him because he didn't take what he thought he did. If it weren't for his love of his family I would have thought he was a sociopath. I'm still not entirely convinced he knows how to love anything but himself. Then for the first time in any romance novel I've ever read he sleeps with her after she gets so plastered that nothing she said sounded like it was coming from her. And in the morning he lets her apologize and says he's glad she's not silly enough to blame him for taking advantage. Uh, excuse me, she was drunk, you were not, and you kept pointing that and the fact she wasn't acting anything like herself out. That would be taking advantage, man. And I'm supposed to buy this guy as a romantic Hero? Even when it came to him falling for Miranda – he continued to maintain he was going to steal from her, and that he'd rather steal from and betray her than love her. It ruins the effect. But he's supposed to be so charming that none of this matters. Yeah, that doesn't work for me.Miranda Jones was an idiot. Her intelligence was pretty much limited to her doctorate field. She had to be lead by the hand the entire time and never put anything together herself. She was given countless information, clues and too many coincidences to be believed and not once did she put anything together herself. One of the men around her had to do it. She was getting threatening letters the entire book and never thought it was a relevant enough fact to mention to anyone. She had enough information on Ryan in the beginning to ruin him and yet she kept letting him outsmart her at every turn with no response. She went along with his insanity, and let him keep raving like a lunatic at her. One second she'd be ranting about getting justice for the murdered characters, then flipping out because someone would have to go to jail for it. For all her ethics and upstanding morals she still put aside what Ryan does (and did to her) when he was lavishing her with attention. Even though he was incredibly condescending, rude, dismissive, calculating, etc. while doing so. She would show flashes of backbone and then it'd be gone just as quickly and she'd fall all over him. While I wanted to feel bad for her due to her family, and I did understand why she was desperate for love, I just didn't care about them getting together or being together. I didn't like or respect what they thought they had.Annie needed to get over it. It happened fifteen years ago – let it freaking go. I started skimming any scenes with her because it was the same thing over and over. What she did at seventeen doesn't relate to anything that's happening in the present yet she was always comparing. I just wanted her to shut up. Andrew was the only character I liked. He was the most sympathetic of the bunch. He was the sweetest brother (I did like the brother/sister relationship he and Miranda had going), and didn't act like a complete moron (except when it came to his addiction). It's too bad he was stuck with a bunch of twitch-inducing women (his mother, his sister, his love interest, and his ex-wife). Though after what's revealed in the end I wanted to give him a bottle of Jack and tell him to have fun. Unfortunately, this wasn't really his story. So we didn't get a good deal of him, though more than could be expected. The rest of the Jones family – their mother, Elizabeth, their father, and Andrew's ex-wife, Elise – rounded out the character face-palming. The rest of the secondary characters were too far in the background to make much of a difference.It really is too bad that what could have been a great story was marred by such awful characters.