Photographer Naomi Carson has surprised even herself with her urge to buy a house and put down roots. A fixer upper in a beautiful rural town seems a perfect clean slate on which to begin her new life and she feels at long last that she can relax and plan for the future. Naomi soon finds that with making personal connections comes complications, but they are welcome ones to someone who has spent most of her life leaving as small an emotional footprint on the world as she can.
Best selling author Nora Roberts excels in churning out the whip fast reads, and THE OBSESSION is another book where the dialogue is snappy, we have a savvy and feisty heroine, and the love interest is uber masculine and good with his hands. You will be half way through this novel before you know it, caught up in the evolving relationship between the two leads whilst not losing sight of the fact that there is someone waiting and wanting to bring all that happiness down.
There is quite a contrast between the present day Naomi scenes, and the first few chapters set in the past where the horror all began. It is relayed in such a teen thriller fashion that you are almost expecting a punch line or to find out it was some horrible dream. These introductory chapters don't gel with the bulk of the book, which is breezy modern romance. The book finds its pace when we have Naomi in her new home, making renovation plans with her builder, pottering around with her photography and meeting the townsfolk. Naomi is a trauma survivor and it is in the many smaller details of how she builds this new home for herself where satisfaction lies for the reader.
There are no surprises in this novel and the crime aspect is almost unnecessary, other than as a way to explain why Naomi is gun shy of relationships and is starting out anew. Fans will enjoy this read and care for both Xander and Naomi, and Naomi's family and the townsfolk as well. A sweet winter read about moving on and not letting the past limit your future happiness.
BLACK-EYED SUSANS, Julia Heaberlin
Seventeen-year-old Tessa, dubbed a 'Black-Eyed Susan' by the media, became famous for being the only victim to survive the vicious attack of a serial killer. Her testimony helped to put a dangerous criminal behind bars - or so she thought. Now, decades later, the case has been reopened and the black-eyed Susans planted outside Tessa's bedroom window seem to be a message from a killer who should be safely in prison. Tessa agrees to help with the investigation, but she is haunted by fragmented memories of the night she was attacked and terrified for her own teenage daughter's safety.
BLACK-EYED SUSANS is a full arc crime novel. There is the immediacy of the act and recovery for the victim and then there is hindsight through to resolution. Tessa is a grown adult with a child of her own in alternating scenes of this novel. Whilst the killer in this read has attacked multiple victims this is not a serial killer novel. BLACK-EYED SUSANS has resonance with the “after”; as in what happens to child victims of crime; how do their lives go on, does it forever after affect their development into adults and the fact that the bulk of their life is being lived after experiencing such horrific trauma.
There is nothing wrong with a slow build, that being the usual framework of a suspense novel after all, but there can be such thing as too much navel gazing when a novel is written in first person narrative. BLACK-EYED SUSANS has many strengths but loses some pace in the final quarter as we are being guided towards discovery. Our protagonist has been watching her back and jumping at shadows for a very long time since she was taken in childhood so as Tessa begins to question her own long thought and cemented assertions, the process is a little drawn out.
Author Julia Heaberlin has created an “everyperson” novel and that is the prime appeal of this read. There is nothing unusual or exceptional about Tessa as a child and she hasn’t developed superhero abilities as part of her recovery; she has lived her life never being sure of what exactly happened and begins to question her own reactions and processes in relation to who was around her at the time of the crime, and to who is sharing her life now in the present.
As a final note, props to the designer of the cover! The distinctive cover art of this book has repeatedly caught the eye of this reviewer in online publications.