Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts
Published by The Berkley Publishing Group
★★★ (3/5 stars)
THIS IS A SPOILER-FREE REVIEW.
Thank you to my granny for letting me borrow this. 🙂
Summary from Goodreads:
For more than three hundred years, Bluff House has sat above Whiskey Beach, guarding its shore – and its secrets.
To summer tourists, it’s the crown jewel of the town’s stunning scenery. To the residents of Whiskey Beach, it’s landmark and legend. To Eli Landon, it’s home…
A Boston lawyer, Eli has weathered an intense year of public scrutiny and police investigation after being accused of murdering his soon-to-be ex-wife. And though there was never enough evidence to have him arrested, his reputation is in tatters as well as his soul. He need sanctuary. He needs Bluff House.
While Eli’s beloved grandmother is in Boston, recuperating from a nasty fall, Abra Walsh has cared for Bluff House, among her other jobs as yoga instructor, jewelry maker, and massage therapist. She is a woman with an open heart and a wide embrace, and no one is safe from her special, some would say over-bearing, brand of nurturing – including Eli.
He begins to count on Abra for far more than her cooking, cleaning, and massage skills, and starts to feel less like a victim – and more like the kind of man who can finally solve the murder of his wife and clear his name. But Bluff House’s many mysteries are a siren song to someone intent on destroying Eli and reaping the rewards. He and Abra will become entangled in a centuries-old net of rumors and half-truths that could pull them under the thunderous waters of Whiskey Beach…
Passion and obsession, humor and heart flow together in a novel about two people opening themselves up to the truth – and to each other.
At-a-Glance Review: Whiskey Beach was decent. I didn’t love it. I didn’t hate it. I’d recommend it if, like me, you enjoy reading Nora Roberts, are running out of fresh material from her, and like to break up all of your other reading with the occasional go-to romance. Don’t look for diversity, suspense, or sexy scenes. (PG-13)
Nora Roberts is big in my family. All romantics at heart and in practice, it’s no wonder we inhale Roberts’ works. I grew up on Nora Roberts and Harry Potter, really. I received the paperback copy of Whiskey Beach from my granny a few weeks ago. Inside the front cover, on the title page, were two letters — “C” and, beneath that, “B”. Cindy and Bethany, my granny and my aunt. We like to share books and now that I’ve read this one, “K” will go beneath “B”, and I’ll pass this novel off to my mom.
My first status on Goodreads while reading this book (at 30% read) was: “So far, so good. Nora Roberts rarely disappoints.” Because she doesn’t, does she? She’s a romance genre standard. Whenever I pick up a romance by a different author, I compare it to Roberts’ mountain of works.
However, my opinion rapidly changed the closer I got to the halfway point. Abra and Eli, the main characters, were predictable; the story line slowed like a train crawling through a town; the sex was boring. It took me a week to read this book, which says a lot about how bored I was by the middle and ending; I usually read a Roberts work in a day or two.
- Sex: Y’all, I grew up on Nora Roberts. I’ve read good Nora Roberts sex scenes. There weren’t any in this book. I saw a review on Goodreads that rated this book “NC-17” and I choked on my laugh. This book is definitely PG-13. (And, yeah, I partially judge a romance novel on its sex scenes. A romance novel can obviously be good with fade-to-black scenes or no sexual scenes at all, but if there is a sex scene, I’m judging it.)
- Relationship: This is a little spoiler-y in that it reveals some, like, personality of the characters; so, if you don’t want to know literally anything about the characters’ behaviors, skip this bullet point. I got hella annoyed with Eli just over halfway through this book. I get that he’s going through some Rough Stuff, okay, I do. But Abra basically bends over backward for him all the time, and he doesn’t even think of one nice thing to do for her until the last 20% of the book. He doesn’t treat her badly, but he does take her for granted.
- Plot: The plot was fine. It dragged in some areas and became repetitive (we know what happened to Eli, Nora, we don’t need you to tell us 380 times), but my biggest issue is the “thriller” tag I keep seeing on this. It’s not thrilling. There’s no suspense. There’s a bit of mystery if you don’t figure it out in the first 50%, but there isn’t anything that will keep you on your toes. Again, this took me a week to read.
- The Usual: All white people, no money issues, big strong man with shoulder length hair, strong but domestic woman who does literally all of the emotional labor in the world.
- While Eli did take Abra for granted, I did like each of them as characters. I also enjoyed the ways they interacted and grew closer. I didn’t see much character growth/change with Abra, which is disappointing — but this story was more about Eli, anyway, and his own growth/changing was believable and nice to see.
- The side characters were good. Stoney Tribbet was my favorite. I love an old, drunk, local man. Abra’s friendship with Maureen was cute, and so was Eli’s friendship with Mike once it got going.
- The setting was nice. I’m always a fan of a beach town and a big house.
- The beginning scenes with Eli and his mental health were, I think, really well done. I related a lot to how he felt and tried dealing with it. Later in the book he knocks the use of antidepressants, though, which I think was a shitty move on the author’s part.
- The Usual: Nora Roberts is a good read to get you out of your head, your stresses, and your reality. That’s what I love about her work. While Whiskey Beach did bore me at times, I did enjoy it enough to finish it.
Overall, Whiskey Beach was decent. I didn’t love it. I didn’t hate it. I’d recommend it if, like me, you enjoy reading Nora Roberts, are running out of fresh material from her, and like to break up all of your other reading with the occasional go-to romance. If you haven’t already, I would recommend reading some of her better works. (My favorites of hers are the four books in the Bride Quartet.)
- mentions of previous sexual harassment and abuse (explicit use of the word “r*pe”)
- mental health (primarily depression and anxiety)
- stalking, physical fighting
- murder, mentions of past murder
Have you read any of Nora Roberts’ work? Do you have any authors whose work you’ll read (pretty much) no matter what the synopsis says? Do you share your books with your family? How do you feel about writing in books?