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When she's on form Nora Roberts writes romance which is hard to beat but she does have her off days and I'm afraid she was having one of them when she wrote this third book in her Brides Quartet. I have persevered with this series, despite my early misgivings after the first book, Vision in White, in the hopes that it would improve.
I borrowed Savour the Moment from the library so it didn't cost me anything. It's already out in paperback in the US and can be bought through Amazon for £6. The UK publication date is set for October and the paperback can be pre-ordered for £5.24.
Laurel McBane is a high-class baker and a partner in the successful wedding planning business she runs along with her three close friends, Parker, Emmeline and Mac. She has loved Delaney Brown, Parker's brother, for as long as she can remember but has kept her feelings to herself because he just regards her as a surrogate sister. Until one day, following a row between them, they kiss.....
I'm really beginning to think perhaps I'm too old and cynical to read straight romance any more. I have a high regard for Nora Roberts as a writer because she is a very good storyteller and generally provides readers with a cracking story but unfortunately with this series, her usual gift for telling a good tale seems to have completely deserted her.
During her career which began back in the early 1980s, she has written well over thirty full length romance novels plus countless shorter romances for Mills & Boon/Harlequin, as well as producing at least another thirty excellent futuristic crime novels as J D Robb. Admittedly, many of her series have a similar theme to them in that they frequently feature groups of friends of several siblings and after writing so many novels, I'm sure it becomes difficult to ring the changes but with this book, and indeed the entire series so far, our Nora seems to have completely run out of originality.
Laurel is not the strongest heroine Nora Roberts has ever created. She's reasonably feisty but definitely not the leading light in this quartet of friends. In fact, she's really very ordinary. I know this probably makes her more realistic than many other characters in romance novels but even though the other friends are taking secondary roles in this book, they still seem to create more of an impact than Laurel herself.
This could well be because she has a rather unromantic job. The other friends are the wedding planner, the photographer and the florist, all of which careers seem to have considerably more prestige than a baker, even if she is French trained!
Delaney, too, is very much a standard Roberts male lead character: a lawyer and all-round nice guy. His attitude towards Laurel before "the kiss" comes across as merely friendly and doesn't even approach affectionate which makes it very hard to believe the turn of events after they kiss. How could he fall so rapidly in love with someone he's known for years? I appreciate that friendship can grow into love - I've even seen it happen with a couple of my friends - but it's not really what I want to read about in a romance novel.
Intertwined with Laurel and Delaney's story is a secondary romance between Parker and a local car mechanic, which will culminate in the fourth and final book in the quartet. This promises to be the best book of the series so I will certainly want to read that when it's published in December. I just hope I won't be disappointed yet again.
The real problem with this book, as with the previous two books in the series, is that there isn't a plot and apart from two people falling, rather unrealistically, in love, absolutely nothing happens. This story is completely character-driven and fails because neither of the principal characters is strong enough to carry the story.
I really don't like to criticise any novel because I know I couldn't even write a bad one and I especially don't like criticising Nora Roberts as I know what an excellent writer she can be, but this story just fails to ignite even a spark of passion and it all seems very contrived.
Sorry, Nora, but Savour the Moment was a disappointing read and there was nothing much to savour at all.
If you feel moved to read this book and the others in the series, they are:
1. Vision in White
2. Bed of Roses
3. Savour the Moment
4. Happy Ever After (published December 2010)