New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts deftly blends romance and suspense in this compelling novel of a woman whose career, marriage, and very life are threatened by the truth about her own past. Emma McAvoy may have grown up in the limelight, but some secrets are hidden in a darkness no light can reach. Now on the verge of a successful career, and having fallen in love with the man of her dreams, Emma is looking to the future. Yet it’s the past that is about to catch up with her. For Emma, her childhood had been almost like a rags-to-riches fairy tale - until the tragic night that changed her family forever. But what Emma thinks she knows about that terrible night and the man she’s about to marry is only half the truth. The other half is locked away in the last place she’d ever think to look: her own memories. It’s a mystery a handsome and relentlessly driven homicide detective needs to solve in a case that’s haunted him for years - and a secret someone will kill to keep.
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Normally I love Nora Roberts' work, but there's boatloads I dislike about this book. I rarely write a review unless I really love or really can't stand a book, but when I do, I go into detail. I'm trying not to give away major plot twists below.
First, I REALLY hate it when the copyrights listed on Audible read "2014" for author and audio publisher, but in reality the book has a 1990 publication date. Audible/Amazon, let's have some truth in labelling and note when it's really a reissue of an old book.
Second. a good editor would have cut out at least one-third of this book. The first 30-40% DRAGS to the extent that I'd zone out for several minutes - something I very rarely do when listening to ANY book - and worse, when I'd rewind I'd find that I didn't miss anything I hadn't heard before. After the first couple zone-outs, I didn't care enough to rewind to catch what I'd missed! That almost NEVER is the case.
Third, if I wanted to read an ode to rock, drugs, other drugs, more drugs, drug abuse, overdoses (I'm not sure I've come across so many different references to drugs in any other fiction book), capricious sex, semi-incestuous sex, AIDS, child abuse, physical abuse, murder, attempted murder, long-term betrayal, etc., etc. I'd read a biography of a 60's/70's rock icon. It seems the author was living out her teenage fantasies about British/Irish rockers. I suspect that a good number of those highly positive reviews are written by folks who either came of age in the 60's or have deep nostalgia or identification with the era. If you don't already love the 60's, I doubt you'll love this book.
Fourth, I'd have rated the book higher if the central mystery had been engaging. Nope. Even most of the primary characters seem to have lost interest in finding out "whodunnit" after a couple years Few additional clues were dropped over time. And worse, my immediate suspects turned out (many) hours later to be the primary culprits. Yawn. If this crime was not a purely random act, who else had any motive?
Fifth, at one point, the original primary detective showed out-of-character stupidity. Then at a critical turning point, the heroine is distressingly stupid. And finally, neither the detectives (nor the other main characters) actually solve the crime. They didn't identify any of the perps who, luckily, were all identified in other ways. Such good luck for our heroine they were so stupid, too. Sigh, it's disappointing when an author can't move the plot forward without resorting to that "let's have someone do something stupid" tactic - but multiple times in a single book? Nora, you're so much better than that - usually!
Sixth, there were so many male characters in this book frequently lumped together in conversation with each other that it was nearly impossible to follow who said what to whom. I think I'd have had a problem keeping the male characters straight without a chart even in written text, but it was very difficult in audio where the various voices were unclear. However, I feel sorry for the narrator who may have been as bored as I was and found it hard to keep the many characters separate in her mind as well. At a later point in the book one character had a serious illness and until more details were given I honestly couldn't remember who he was or why I should care.
The only reason I give 2 stars instead of 1 is for the slightly more interesting last fourth of the book. But even that was a close call.