Carolina Moon, by Nora Roberts

>> Thursday, April 28, 2005

Carolina Moon, isn't among my favourite Nora Roberts, but a comment (by Jorie, if I'm not mistaken) I read a couple of weeks ago in a message board, about one of the secondary characters, had me digging through my shelves and rereading it.

our heroine Tory Bodeen has returned to her hometown of Progress, South Carolina, to face the fearsome memories of her childhood friend Hope's death and rebuild her life in a town that once betrayed her.

Struggling to balance the disturbing recollections, Tory finds comfort in the arms of Hope's older brother, Cade Lavelle. Though she sets about developing relationships with old friends and establishing her own business, Tory's worst fears come true and her past catches up to her: Tory's unique role in Hope's death makes her not only the focus of the Lavelle family's hatred, but the next choice for Hope's killer, who is still at large.
It was an ok read, an atmospheric Southern Gothic romantic suspense, with a very nice secondary romance, which almost made up for a lukewarm main one. A B.

Many things about this reminded me of Linda Howard's After the Night. There's the small Southern town setting, the privileged hero and white trash heroine, who knew each other as children and stopped seeing each other when the heroines family moves from town after a traumatic event blamed on them (the hero's father supposedly running off with the heroine's mother in ATN, the hero's sister getting murdered, with his mother blaming Tory, in CM). There's the heroine who comes back to the town she has to have horrible memories of, for no good reason. There's the heros' mothers, who could have been the same woman.

The main difference is that while Carolina Moon lacks the white-hot sexual chemistry between the leads, which made After the Night such an absorbing read, it also lacked the mysoginistic attitude which made it a very, very guilty pleasure.

I liked Cade and Tory very much. Cade was very, very beta, which I loved, an environmentalist and an all around nice guy, who falls for Tory immediately and patiently perseveres in his courtship, recognizing that she has been hurt in the past and has reason to be skittish. Their relationship was pleasant, if lacking in a bit of fire.

I liked the secondary relationship, between Cade's sister, Faith, and his best friend (and Tory's cousin) Wade, much, much better. I absolutely loved Faith. Bitchy, promiscuous, lively, selfish, but with a soft streak, she's just the type that tends to become one of the serial killers' victims in so many romance novels. The fact that she gets her very happy ending here is one of the reasons I worship Nora.

I have mixed feelings about the suspense subplot, especially its resolution. On one hand, it didn't feel particularly believable to me. On the other, though, it was truly horrifying and creepy, maybe so horrifying and creepy that I have trouble accepting its plausibility.

Whatever its techical flaws, this was an interesting read.

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