The Last Boyfriend, by Nora Roberts

>> Sunday, July 07, 2013

TITLE: The Last Boyfriend
AUTHOR: Nora Roberts

PAGES: 319
PUBLISHER: Berkley Trade

SETTING: Contemporary US
TYPE: Romance
SERIES: 2nd in the Inn BoonsBoro trilogy

Owen Montgomery is the organizer of the clan, running the family's construction business with an iron fist and an even less flexible spreadsheet. And though his brothers bust on his compulsive list-making, the Inn BoonsBoro is about to open right on schedule. The only thing Owen didn't plan for was Avery McTavish... Avery's popular pizza place is right across the street from the inn, giving her a first-hand look at the renovation -- and a newfound appreciation for Owen.

The Inn Boonsboro series is centred round the Montgomery brothers and the B&B they redevelop. In book 1 we got the surprisingly satisfying story of Beckett, the creative brother who takes care of the architecture, and Clare, owner of the local bookstore. With them sorted, we now move on to Owen, the organised, dependable brother, a man great at keeping track of the hundred thousand details of the incredible number of projects the brothers juggle.

The heroine is Avery McTavish, the owner of the pizza place across the road. She and Owen were boyfriend and girlfriend when they were little kids, and over the years, they've become good friends. In fact, Avery is treated a bit like a kid sister by the Montgomerys. And then something just switches, and Owen and Avery start seeing each other as a man and a woman.

I found it very hard to get excited about this one, I'm afraid. It was a pleasant, comfortable read, but I never really got Owen and Avery together. I didn't quite get what it was that made them go from plain friends to 'oh, I've suddenly realised I'm very attracted to you'. This should be a significant moment, something that we as readers feel viscerally, but it just wasn't there. And then from there, the romance develops in a very lukewarm, half-hearted way. It meant the romance was a bit of a dud, and it didn't help that there was something about Avery, something I can't quite put my finger on, that kept me from seeing her as a viable romance heroine. I've thought and thought about it, but I don't know why my brain is so reluctant to go there.

In addition to the romance, there are several other threads to keep the reader occupied, and there were hits and misses there. The best one was about Avery's mother. She left when Avery was very young, and returns in the course of this book, setting off some fireworks which brought some much-needed angst and tension to the story. I also liked the friendship between the women and the brothers' relationship. This is something I always enjoy in Roberts' stories, and it's well done here. Surprisingly (I'm the least maternal person you'll ever meet), I still find Clare's three little ones tremendously cute, especially Murphy. They're funny and feel real.

The other stuff... meh. There's the ongoing plot about the ghost, which I'm mildly interested in, even if nothing much happens here. There's the stuff about the inn, and Avery's plans to open a restaurant attached to it. And then there's a fitness centre. It was strange, but I was both slightly bored and completely exhausted by this, all at the same time. Nora Roberts' characters have always been hard-workers, but these people are just ridiculous.



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