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Janet Hardy, the glamorous but troubled movie star, commits suicide in her country retreat in 1973. Leaving Little Farm to her daughter the house is neglected and left to run down, for many years until her granddaughter, Cilla McGowan persuades her mother to sell the house to her. Cilla, a failed child star herself, is determined to restore the house, and in the process establish herself as a property developer. Little Farm is also located in her father's hometown, and this gives her the chance to connect with him and his other family. She also learns that s a teenager her uncle died in a tragic car accident, which left another boy paralysed, this was the start of her grandmother's depression but also a bitter hatred for the whole of her family by the boy's father. Her family's past tragedies are now coming back to haunt her.
On arrival she meets, Ford Sawyer, her neighbour and comic book creator. In her, he finds inspiration for a new creation, and in him she finds the stable influence she has always craved.
However, someone in the community resents her presence, and her intention to restore and live in Little Farm. She discovers love letters sent to Janet to her last year, indicating she was having an affair with a married man. Janet was also pregnant when she died. Did her grandmother really commit suicide? As the attacks on her property grow more violent, she and Ford try to find out who wants her to leave, or worse.
This is Nora Roberts at her best. The characters are well drawn and interesting. Cilla is very believable as the failed star struggling to find her way, and deal with not only her own ghosts but also those of her mother and grandmother. She is a strong capable woman who has never found her vocation until now. The romance between her and Ford is a slow burner. There is an immediate attraction but they take their time, so the reader can get to know the characters before they fall for each other. A lot of romance novels rely on a misunderstanding to drive the characters apart before they eventually get together; luckily Ms Roberts no longer has to rely on such devices, therefore the set up feels very realistic.
As well as romance novels, Nora Roberts is also becoming well known for her 'In death' series of thrillers set in the future. This book felt very similar to those in that the thriller aspect was well thought out and there are a couple of nice surprises/interesting twists. I won't give away the resolution of that storyline, but the perpetrator was unexpected.
I found this book really enjoyable to read, and I can't wait to read it again. Nora Roberts just gets better and better!
As I think I've declared before, Nora Roberts is a consummate storyteller and there is not doubt this is a good story, albeit a somewhat formulaic one.
Cilla McGowan had once been a child star in a sitcom, granddaughter of an even more famous film star, who had taken her own life at her farm in Virginia some thirty years before the story begins . Since that time, Cilla's mother has allowed the farm to fall into ruin but now Cilla is there to try to restore it to its former glory and put down some permanent roots in the area.
Soon after she arrives, Cilla meets her sexy neighbour, Ford, who is a graphic novelist, and in the way of all good romances, it isn't long before she and Ford become an item. However, their happy-ever-after, doesn't arrive without the couple facing a few problems, not least of which is that there seem to be people in the locality who bear a grudge against not only Cilla but her grandmother too and at least one of those people seem to be intent on murder.
The story is pacey and enjoyable but I did find all the characters rather stereotypical and it wasn't difficult to work out fairly early on just who the real baddie was despite a couple of red herrings thrown into the story.
Nora Roberts' heroes are always very attractive, just the kind of man we'd all like to meet and fall in love with, and her heroines tend to be a little on the feisty side and Cilla is no exception. However, I had a problem relating to either Cilla or Ford. They were both just a little bit too good to be true. In fact, Cilla's ex-husband who makes a brief appearance, seemed more of a well rounded character than either of the two main protagonists.
This was an enjoyable book but not one of Nora Roberts's best by a long chalk. It wasn't a great page-turner and I never had a problem putting it down to go and do other things so I can't recommend it wholeheartedly. It was all just a little too bland for my taste.