Publisher: Berkeley Trade
Release Date: November 1, 2011
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Inn Boonsboro Trilogy #1
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
The launch of a new Nora Roberts romance series always raised pulse-raising possibilities, but the first of her Inn Boonsboro trilogy is a pleasure onto itself. At its center are Beckett Montgomery, an architect with ambitious plans and a longstanding crush, and Clare Brewster, a young widow bookstore owner who has returned to her hometown. Roberts places readers inside the crosscurrents of small-town America, showing us how relationships evolve and hit speed bumps.
I'm a huge fan of Nora Roberts but it's been a while since I've read her newer stuff so I was really excited to read The Next Always. The fact that it was a second-chance-at-love (the hero has had a crush on the heroine since they were in high school) was a plus.
The Next Always wasn't what I initially expected. First of all, I didn't know that the heroine, Clare, was a young widow until I read the synopsis on the back of the ARC. I usually stay from widowed heroines, especially ones with children and ones who had a great marriage before they lost their husband--both of which Clare was: she was a military wife who lost her husband in Iraq and now she is a busy single mother with three young boys. This is just me and my preferences, but I find I am not able to relate to widowed heroines as much I am able to with a single heroine who finds her one true love because that's who I am (single) and that's what I want to find. The fact that she was a widow/single mom was a factor on my overall impression (albeit a personal one) of the novel but when I started reading the story it wasn't a big deal. I liked Clare right away (the way she juggles owning/running a bookstore and being a single mom to a 5-, 7- and 8-year old while still having time for friends and a bookclub was amazing). Her three sons were so cute and they acted the way little boys should act.
Beckett was very likable as well. Who doesn't love a nice yet hot and sexy carpenter? But his character didn't really stand out for me in comparison to Nora's other heroes and he was almost too nice and too perfect. He and Clare were very cute together together but unfortunately I thought the romance was lukewarm at best. My favorite scenes were ones with Beckett and Clare's boys which was fun to read.
The trilogy follows the Montgomery brothers as they restored an old building in town into a bed and breakfast. I thought the descriptions of the interior design of the different guest rooms of the inn went on a little too long. I am not into interior design so I wasn't able to quite "see" when they were describing the place and I thought all those descriptions dragged the story some. With the inn being really old, there was a resident [friendly] ghost and I liked that touch of paranormal.
Overall, this novel was delightful--reading a Nora Roberts novels is like comfort food and this was no exception. If you're looking for a book you can relax with on a nice weekend afternoon The Next Always is it. I am looking forward to reading the next two books in the trilogy, especially Ryder's (it was hinted who his heroine might be and I think their story will be a fun one).