Wednesday, July 17, 2013

TBR Challenge 2013: High Noon

The Book: High Noon by Nora Roberts

The Particulars: Romantic suspense, Putnam, 2007, In Print

Why Was It In Wendy's TBR?:  I picked this one up at RWA 2007.  Nora was the luncheon speaker at Librarians Day that year and this book was part of the swag.  Yes, I've had a book in my TBR since 2007.  Don't hate the player, hate the game.

The Review: I was all set to read a historical for this month's TBR Challenge, but got derailed when I DNF'ed a category romance I requested from Netgalley (sorry Harlequin!  Look, I review a ton of your books, DNF'ing one isn't all that terrible - is it?).  Anywho, I was looking at the historicals in my pile that fit this month's theme and I just wasn't feeling it.  The clock was ticking (I wanted to put this review to bed before I left for RWA!), and even though this book clocks in at a staggering 467 pages (have I mentioned I'm slow reader?), I took the plunge.

Nora's about as classic as it gets when it comes to romance.  Some folks wonder why.  Why her?  Well, I'll tell you why - besides what must be a killer work ethic - she can spin a story.  Is she the bestest, super supremo writer on the planet?  No.  But she tells a good story and keeps you engaged.  After DNF'ing a category romance that didn't make me care one iota, Nora's ability to spin an engaging story was not lost on me.  I inhaled this book, despite my quibbles.

Police Lieutenant Phoebe MacNamara is a hostage negotiator for the Savannah PD.  She's supposed to be enjoying St. Patrick's Day with her family.  Instead she's called downtown to talk down a jumper.  She arrives on the scene and immediately meets the jumper's former employer and current landlord, Duncan Swift.  Phoebe does her thing, the situation is defused, and Duncan is smitten.  Hook, line, sinker, head over heels, smitten.  Now all he has to do is convince Phoebe to give him a chance.  One measly lil' drink.  Surely she'll say yes to that?

Phoebe's life is complicated.  She's got a rambling mansion she inherited from a relative, a sour woman who is literally running Phoebe's life from behind the grave.  She's a single mother to a precocious seven-year-old daughter, and has an agoraphobic mother who has a panic attack just thinking about opening the front door.  Then there's the demands of her job, the pressures of being a woman in a male dominated field, the childhood trauma that still looms over her family, and oh yeah!  It seems there's a Psycho Bad Guy who's out to get her.  She's used to handling things by her self.  She's used to taking care of everybody and everything.  She does not have time to "date."  But Duncan - damn, Duncan with his charming banter and sexy eyes won't take no for an answer.

There is a lot I liked about this book.  The dialogue is fast and furious, the sparks immediately fly between the couple, Roberts does a great job with the secondary characters (the folks Phoebe encounters "on the job" especially), the hostage scenes are suitably exciting and tense, and the whole High Noon theme (Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly - it's a movie, you damn whippersnappers!) is genius.

So, what didn't work for me?  Well, it's a lot of little things.  Duncan and Phoebe are just so....perfect.  Phoebe is practically Wonder Woman and Duncan is so slick I started thinking of him as Teflon Man.  Do they have baggage?  Yeah.  But even with that baggage they still seem so put-together, even-keeled, like butter wouldn't melt in their mouths.  Phoebe is prickly at times, but she's so damn competent and good-at-her-job, that it's hard to even consider that a character "flaw."

There were also times the romance just didn't quite gel for me.  The declarations of true love seem to come out of left field, but this could very well be chalked up to my being engaged more in the suspense thread than the romance.  Also, as exciting as the climactic finish to this story was?  I have a hard time believing that Duncan would be allowed on the scene, allowed past the barricade, and would be able to talk Phoebe.  I don't care if she's running the negotiation - it just felt too Convenient Romance Suspense Novel Plot Device to me.

So where does that leave me?  I liked this.  I have an autographed copy, so I'll keep it - but I'm unlikely to ever reread it.  The suspense is good, and there's a moment during the third act that literally had me gasping out loud (seriously, it's gruesomely good and it shocked the hell out of me - Brava Nora!).  The romance?  Meh.  The suspense, delivering a good story and keeping me engaged?  Mission accomplished.

Final Grade = B-


Elizabeth said...

I DNFed my challenge book this month :(

This is actually on my list of least favorite Nora books (Blue Smoke and whatever the one about the firefighters was are also included). It didn't wind up on my keeper shelf which is shocking because Nora has two and half shelves all to herself. :)

Nora was my gateway drug to romance so she could consistently write horrific trash and I would still buy it on release day. I'm in the middle of a La Nora backlist project and I'm super glad that I've already read this one so I don't have to read it again...really it's just not one of her best IMO.

Christine said...

Hmm I think I snagged a used paperback copy of this one from a library book sale at one point. It's on the shelf for a someday read. I've read her Bridal Quartet and The Witness but wouldn't know what to grab for a Nora MUST READ. Is it too broad to ask for recommendations on her BEST contemp romance?

Kathryn T said...

I read this one a few years back and actually enjoyed it too. Nora Roberts can spin a good story, and sometimes she is just the one I need.

I read a Georgette Heyer novel, one I had picked up at a book fair.

Hilcia said...

High Noon was a mixed bag for me. I had problems with that rushed HEA that came out of nowhere, although I agree and really liked both Duncan and Phoebe. The suspense definitely took precedence over the romance in this one. I remember getting really involved with the family as secondary characters, but not being satisfied with the ending. This is not a favorite NR read for me either.

PS: Those perfectly perfect NR heroines (the ones who can handle everything blindfolded and with hands tied behind their backs) make an appearance here and there -- more so in her recent novels. I find myself not enjoying those novels much. I like more realistic protagonists, particularly when I'm reading contemporaries.

Lynne said...

This one of my keeper Nora Roberts. I agree that it ended abruptly. I watched the Lifetime movie adaptation, thought it was good. I had never seen High Noon but rented it to hear the song.

Ana T. said...

Nora is a hit and miss author for me. I never tried this one but I'll pick up a copy if I manage to find one on my next bookstore visit.

Wendy said...

I've bookmarked all the TBR Challenge reviews for when I get back from RWA. There were actually a couple of DNF's this month, which I found interesting! Also, a wonderful variety, and I think everyone really did well with the "Classic" theme.

Yeah, this was definitely a Nora where the suspense worked better for me than the romance. But, coming off a DNF non-read it was so good to be in the hands of "a pro." And Nora is a pro when it comes to spinning a story. I fell right into this book, quibbles and all.

Christine: I liked The Search, but it is heavy on "Doggy Stuff" since the heroine trains search & rescue dogs. I also really, really liked her Born In trilogy.

nath said...

Now, I'm really curious to know which category romance you DNF, Wendy. The good thing is, the one that I really want to read next month is not up on Netgalley. Yay!

I really enjoy NR. For me, she's a sure value :) Not all of her books are great, but almost all of them are solid reads :) High Noon though hasn't been one of my favorite. Something's just off and I would venture it's the abrupt ending.

Christine - Really loved The Search. Older books by NR that I've enjoyed include the Chesapeake trilogy (although it's 4 books), Homeport, True Betrayals, Montana Sky, etc LOL

Wendy said...

Nath: That was exactly it for me, Nora being a "sure value." I happily lapped up the pages and let her carry me along through the story. It felt good to be in the hands of a pro after slogging through six chapters of a category romance where I was bored out of my mind.

willaful said...

Oh no... you reminded me of an unfinished Harlequin book from netgalley I had managed to totally forget and so didn't want to remember...

I started with Roberts this month and didn't DNF anything! Which is unusual for me, I usually go through 3 or 4 books before I settle. It probably helped that I borrowed the ebook.