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Romance review: Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts

Genre: Romance, contemporary
Series: The Bride Quartet
Year of publication: 2009
No. in series: 2
Setting & time: Greenwich, Connecticut, USA; contemporary
Level of sensuality: Several breathless sex scenes and cute moments with kissing

Emma, friend and business partner to Mac, heroine of the first book in the Bride Quartet, is the highly-skilled florist of Vows, the all-exclusive wedding-planning business they run together. She has long harboured a secret crush on Jack, an architect who is among her best friends. He is also interested in her, but hasn’t acted on it because of his close friendship with Parker’s brother who considers Emma, Mac and Laurel as his honorary sisters and is highly protective of them.

After he helps her when her car breaks down late at night it becomes clear to them both that the attraction is mutual and after some initial hesitation they plunge into a passionate love affair. But their friendship, combined with Emma’s desire for the "happily ever after" package and Jack’s commitment phobia puts some hurdles in their way.

If you read my review of the first book, you’ll know I didn’t like it much (apart from the scrumptious nerd hero). This one, however, I did like. It’s not going on my keeper shelf, but I think it deserves a better rating because while equally formulaic, it is better put together. Roberts even managed to surprise me a couple of times when I thought I knew where the story was headed.

Both the hero and heroine are reminiscent of characters seen before in Roberts’ books, but unlike in the previous book, the two are more balanced and equal to each other. Mac in Vision in White felt too flat, too stock, to me  to balance well with Carter, who felt very much alive, but here I get about the same feeling of recognition for both characters, both of whom she has fleshed out enough to make them distinct and equal.

The plot is the classic “friends-to-lovers” story, skilfully told and written in Robert’s usual readable style. Some of the twists are foreseeable, while others surprise. The best gauge of quality is that this is the first Nora Roberts novel to bring tears to my eyes since I read the Chesapeake Bay trilogy. Tears didn’t actually fall, but there was definitely increased moistness in the corners of my eyes when I was reading the climax and denouement. For that, and for the better balancing of plot and characters than the previous book, it gets 3+ stars.

The next book in the series also seems set to be a “friends-to-lovers” story, this one between people who see each other like brother and sister. I’m looking forward to seeing how Roberts handles that one without making it feel incestuous.

Comments

Dorte H said…
I am not sure I´ll want to read it, but I like that you mention the level of sensuality :)
Italia said…
These books are simple and rely on the strong characters and their emotions. This book lacked a bit of the tension that was there in the first as there were no giant hurdles in Emma's romance developing. In a way, that's what is refreshing about these books- the plot is not contrived, just straightforward, simple and romantic. I like that the writing is good, solid, without getting in the way of the story- the voice is fluid which makes for an easy and enjoyable read.

These books are great if you want to unwind after a busy day or de-stress in your bubble bath. I downloaded to my Kindle before I went to bed last night, read a few chapters and then finished the book while my kids were at school today. If you enjoyed the first book, you will really enjoy this book- and if you haven't had a chance to read the first, this one will stand just fine on its own.

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