Blue Smoke, by Nora Roberts

Cover ImageFinished 4-26-09, rating 4/5, romantic thriller, pub. 2005

“Something else I need to talk to you about.”  He set down hos fork, looked into her eyes.  “Pastorelli’s out.”

“He–”  She drew herself in, glanced around to see if any of her family could overhear.  “When?”

“Last week. I just got word.”

Chapter 5

Reena was only 11 years old when she watched her family restaurant burn to the ground.  She had been attacked by a boy in her class and their two fathers had come to blows, causing the other father to take a match to their family livelihood.  Years go by as Reena studies to become a member of the arson unit and she returns home to the Little Italy area of Baltimore.  She is welcomed with open arms by her large Italian family and life settles into family, fires, and the occasional boyfriend.  She is a strong woman who has a hard time finding a man who admires her determination and when she does the relationships end in death or abuse. 

I really liked this book.  I liked Reena, although I didn’t love her.  The secondary characters were fun and lovable and well developed.  I’d love to read another story involving the Hale clan.  I think it is the large family with so much love and loyalty that made this book feel so cozy.  The hero, Bo Goodnight, was a dream and easy to fall for.  Who doesn’t want a well-built, handsome carpenter who fell in love with you at first sight and has spent years trying to find you?

I’m not sure I would classify this as a thriller.  It is more of a family/romantic drama?  There was a mystery, but it really wasn’t that hard to figure out.  Actually, my biggest complaint is that for a smart woman, Reena was a little slow in seeing the obvious.

I’m not a Nora Roberts fan, but I really enjoyed this book and recommend it for a fun, fast-paced read.

Angels Fall, by Nora Roberts

Cover ImageFinished audio 4-17-08, rating3.5/5, fiction, pub. 2006

Reece is a woman haunted by her violent past in Boston who ends up in Wyoming trying to recover.  She finds a small close-knit town that looks at gossip as a badge of honor.  They watch out for their own.   Reece takes a job at the local diner and begins to heal.

As Reece tries to normalize her life she is shaken when she witnesses a cold-hearted murder.  She finds a new friend in Brody, who believes her, but some distrust among others when no body was found.  Having been in a psychiatric hospital not long before Reece begins to think that she may be going crazy.  Brody’s belief in her gives her hope for her sanity, but she is feeling  more and more fragile as the town watches her seemingly fall apart.

I enjoyed this novel even though I thought I knew the killer right away and I was right.  It had a great story about a woman putting her life back together, with romance, surprising friendships, and a murder mystery.  I rarely read Nora Roberts, but I’d recommend this one.