May 2, 2012

Review: The Witness by Nora Roberts


Nora Roberts is one of the reasons why I love romance novels. She’s definitely the reason why I love Contemporaries, and that’s why her books are always greatly anticipated. However, the past few years have been mediocre at best. The last time I thoroughly enjoyed one of her books was in 2009 when Black Hill was released. So when I started The Witness I was hopeful but apprehensive. I’m happy to say that I fell in love from the moment I read the opening line.

The book opens when our heroine, Elizabeth, is a teenager. Sheltered by a dominant mother who decides everything in her life, from what to eat and wear, to what to study, she’s finally realizing that she wants to be normal. So when her mother leaves her for the weekend, she cuts her hair and goes to the mall to buy new clothes. There, she meets a girl she used go to school with, and because they both have something to gain, decide to team up and go clubbing. Elizabeth is a genius -- she has an eidetic memory, goes to Harvard and pretty much can do anything, so she creates the best fake ID’s ever. Once at the club they meet the owners, who happen to be members of the Russian mafia. They go to their home and once there Elizabeth witnesses the murder of one of them and of her friend. She manages to get help and once the police realize that she’s the main witness, she goes into the protection program. I don’t want to spoil the plot but let’s just say that things don’t work out and she ends up hiding by herself.

Flash forward twelve years and now Elizabeth goes by the name of Abigail, and is living as a recluse in a small town in the middle of the Ozarks with her huge dog as only companion. Everything goes well until Brooks Gleason, the local Chief of Police, becomes interested in her. He can’t decide why he’s attracted to a woman who’s standoffish, rude and seriously lacking of social skills, but he is, and so he pursues her. Little by little he gets under her skin and begins to know the woman she truly is. He can sense that something bad happened to her and that she’s hiding, but it’s too late for him because he’s already in love, so he will support her no matter what. Problem is, that the past is about to catch up to her and it may be more than they can handle.

The book is divided in two parts. The first one is about what happens to Elizabeth and it’s very different in tone to the second part. Elizabeth’s story is heartbreaking and compelling, you know things will end badly but you can’t stop reading. It sets perfectly what will come next and also her character. Knowing what she went through makes it easier to accept the woman she becomes.

Abigail’s part takes the majority of the book and it’s more about the romance than the mystery and suspense. Ms. Roberts takes her time developing the main characters, the love story and finally the conflict and resolution. The book is long but the story never drags, and each part is essential and enjoyable.

Elizabeth/Abigail is a great heroine and one of the best Ms. Roberts has written in a while, if not ever. She is the main character and the book’s focus. She has isolated herself in order to disappear and it has cost her deeply, mainly because she no longer knows how to function in society -not that she was that good at it to begin with-. She has accepted that she will be alone forever and when she meets Brooks she doesn’t know what to do. On the one hand, getting close to her is dangerous and she doesn’t allow herself to trust him, but on the other hand, he represents all she ever wanted and never knew she could have: love, family, emotional connection, normalcy and happiness. 

Brooks was perfect. You know that when it comes to Nora Roberts, if the heroine is intense, her hero will be easygoing and laidback (yes, Ms. Roberts is formulaic as all get out). And that’s exactly how he is. Sweet and caring. One thing I like about her heroes is that once they fall in love they go for it, no second thoughts and not fear of commitment, something that’s also the case here. This means that the romance is quite smooth (to the point of easy and conflict-less) and it’s all due to Brooks. 

The mystery is very well-done albeit slightly unbelievable, especially when it comes to the role the heroine plays in it. Then again the bad guys where evil but not cartoonish and the resolution was surprising in its simplicity. Just when you think you have it all figured out, things take an unexpected turn and that’s the mark of a great Romantic Suspense. 

This is Ms. Roberts’ 200th novel and it shows. Her voice is so unique it’s almost a trademark. The story flows in a way that only an experienced writer can do, and even though she has written 200 heroes and heroines, the ones in this book are just as remarkable and unforgettable as the rest of them. If you’re a fan I’m sure you already read it, and if you’re not, go read this, and the other 199 books now, you have lots of catching up to do and I envy you, I wish I could discover these books for the first time again.

Review by Brie
Grade: 5
Sensuality: McSexy
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis:

Daughter of a controlling mother, Elizabeth finally let loose one night, drinking at a nightclub and allowing a strange man’s seductive Russian accent lure her to a house on Lake Shore Drive. The events that followed changed her life forever.
 
Twelve years later, the woman known as Abigail Lowery lives on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks. A freelance programmer, she designs sophisticated security  systems—and supplements her own security with a fierce dog and an assortment of firearms. She keeps to herself, saying little, revealing nothing. But Abigail’s reserve only intrigues police chief Brooks Gleason. Her logical mind, her secretive nature, and her unromantic viewpoints leave him fascinated but frustrated. He suspects that Abigail needs protection from something—and that her elaborate defenses hide a story that must be revealed.

Putnam Adult. April 17, 2012

20 comments:

  1. I have this one on my wishlist based on your recommendation on Twitter :) It sounds interesting. Not sure if it will be my first NR book (I'm a NR virgin) but I definitely want to check it out.

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    1. Yes! I remember!! LOL As I told you, Carnal Innocence is my all-time favorite book of hers, as well as Angels Fall. Those are the ones we talk on Twitter, she's just so awesome! Can't wait for you to read them all!

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    2. I was at a used book store yesterday and they had a HUGE NR section. I saw Angels Fall but couldn't remember if I had had it on my TBR list or not. One downside to not having a smartphone with internet. What NR book would you recommend a noob start with? To make me fall in love with her?

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    3. I think I’m going to write a “guide to NR”, you have inspired me!

      My favorite is Carnal Innocence. The hero is so dreamy and southern, love him. The heroine is a famous violinist. And the mystery is about a bunch of women showing up murdered.

      In Angel Falls, the hero is a cranky writer and the heroine is suffering from PSTD. She witnesses a murder but no one believes her and then weird things start to happen.

      Another favorite is Hidden Riches. The heroine is a quirky antiques seller and the hero is an uptight cop. If you like opposites attract this one is the best.
      If you like a very slight paranormal tough, a tiny subtle one, read Carolina Moon. Even if you don’t like the paranormal part, this book is fantastic.

      There are so many! Public Secrets, True Betrayals, The Villa, Honest Illusions, I could go on and on. But I think you should try either Carnal Innocence or Angel Falls, if you don’t like those then NR isn’t for you. I can’t wait for you to try them!

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  2. I neeeed to read this one!! I have it...waiting for me. Great review

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  3. I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Brie :) I think it was a definitively a great entry. I was really surprised at the turn the romantic suspense thread took.

    A lot of people said the way she took down the mafia was a bit unbelievable... but I don't know, someone as smart as her, as determined... Definitively dangerous :P

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    1. Yeah, the mafia part was too much, she's smart and all, but I don't know, they should have realized something was wrong with their money. I mean, if I were to start my own mafia I'd make sure to hire my own hackers to protect me from ladies I tried to kill ten years ago...

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  4. Okay Brie, it's really time for me to jump in with Ms. Roberts and giver her another chance. The book I read from her was just OK. This one sounds fascinating, but I want you to remind of the NR book that you love most so I can get it and read it. It's past time for me to discover what so many other readers have.

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    1. Oh my! This is a difficult choice. Which one did you read? My favs are Carnal Innocence and Angel Falls, among many, many others... Tell me which one you read so I can have an idea of which not to recommend.

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    2. It was a book with two stories. I just remember a red cover and Lawless in the title somewhere. Sorry I don't remember more than that. But those titles are great for me to start. I'll start digging through my mom's old NR books soon for them.

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    3. That book is old! No wonder you didn't like it, you're going to be pleasantly surprised, these books have nothing to do with Lawless.

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    4. Also Jade, I think that Lawless was a special book. Basically, in one of her book - Loving Jack - NR has a heroine who is writing a book... And Lawless is that book. One of the only time NR tackled a time period outside of contemporary (well not counting her books as JD Robb). You definitively try something else!!

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  5. i do love nora roberts, but i tend to enjoy her regular romances better than the romantic suspense ones. but if you said it's good, i completely trust your judgment. putting it on the TBR list. ~dixie

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    1. You should trust my judgment, my judgment never fails! LOLOLOL Just kidding, but thanks, this comment made my day. Her regular contemporaries are very good also. Have you read the Chesapeake Bay books? About a bunch of brothers who have to take care of this kid that may or may not be their father's biological grandson (all the brothers were adopted). I love those books!

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  6. it's true, your judgment never fails. even after i review a book, i'll read your review of the same book & think, that's exactly right, why didn't i say that?
    i haven't read the chesapeake books, but they sound right up my alley. are you reading the inn boonsboro books? the second one came out tuesday, i think, and i am very anxious to get to it. and now i'm putting chesapeake to the tbr list. ~dixie

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    1. You’re going to make me cry!

      You know what? I haven’t read the Boonsboro books because I was put off by all the self-promo. That series is based on her town and inn, and it seems like too much. Also, I wasn’t a fan of the Bride books, I think her regular romances have been a bit lacking. So my plan is to wait until all the books are out to read them back-to-back. Also, I'm not sure how I feel about the ghost subplot. But let me know how you like it, I might be persuaded to read it ;-)

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  7. I've been hearing nothing but great things about this one and I'm really excited about it. I love Nora Roberts so it really doesn't take much to convince me to read her. I'm glad to hear it is better than her most recent reads.

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  8. Wahooo! A FIVE!!!
    I've got this one on my wish list. :D

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  9. Amazing how NR can keep you guessing right the way through. I just finished "The Witness" in record time(for me), having only heard about it on The Book Report radio show over the previous weekend! The host, Elaine, gave a brief outline of the story and they played a section from the audio book. It was just enough for me to know I had to read it! For any other book lovers, you may enjoy catching the show in your area (stations and schedules can be found on their website-bookreportradio{dot}com). They discuss a new set of books weekly and interview an author. It's great for getting ideas to add to your list of must reads. And by the way, the narration in the audio book also seems really good!

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The books reviewed here were purchased by us. If the book was provided by the author or publisher for review, it will be noted on the post. We do not get any type of monetary compensation from publishers or authors.