Homeport, by Nora Roberts

>> Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Still rereading my forgotten Nora Roberts books, and while waiting for River's End, I read Homeport.

From Booklist:

Dr. Miranda Jones, an art authenticator specializing in bronzes, is summoned by her mother to Italy to verify a bronze called The Dark Lady after a courtesan of the de Medici court. A leak to the Italian press is immediately blamed on Miranda, and under threat of dismissal from the family's entire operation, she returns home to Maine seething at the injustice.

The international media call her findings fraudulent, and so does Ryan Boldari, a handsome art thief who stole a bronze from Miranda's museum only to discover that it was a fake. His confrontation with Miranda sets them on the trail of a shadowy figure determined to hide The Dark Lady and destroy Miranda's reputation at all costs. Sparks fly personally and professionally between Ryan and Miranda as they close in on the killer stalking her--a killer who is either a close friend, coworker, or member of her family.
Call me rigid, judmental and unsophisticated, but stealing is wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, unless it's a matter of taking back something that belongs to you or the Les Misérables thing of stealing a hunk of bread so you don't starve. And no, that the original owner is insured doesn't make it right. So for the first time, I found myself literally tossing a Nora Roberts against the wall.

Ryan just wasn't someone I could root for. All the book, but most especially during the first half, I was wishing he'd get caught and sent to jail for years and years. I hated his complete amorality and the way he and his family preached at Miranda about it. His idiot mother even tells Miranda, all holier-than-thou, that "when God gives you a gift, it's a sin not to use it". Yes, really, and yes, she does mean that, as Miranda puts it, "God gave Ryan a talent, and that it would be a sin for him not to break into buildings and steal". Bullshit. I'm an agnostic, and still that self-serving rationalization offends even me.

I guess Ryan's supposed to be charming in a devil-may-care kind of way, but not to me. It must have been his condescending amusement at Miranda's oh-so-naive problems with his being a thief. Once he toned down that aspect a bit, in the second half of the book, I didn't despise him quite as much, but he never really did appeal to me.

I spent the entire book having my blood pressure raised. It took me some two weeks to read, just because I'd get so pissed off I had to stop reading it and turn to another book for a while. I only kept reading because I wanted to see Miranda slap her bitch of a mother when what had happened became clear. And even that was all for nothing, because when we got to that scene, it wasn't satisfying at all.

As for the plot, there was some interesting stuff about the world of art galleries and institutes, but not enough to make this worth it. The identity of the villain was tremendously obvious from the start, and the motivation sucked.

I never thought I'd see the day when I gave a Nora Roberts book a D+.

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