To Go: 7
91. Call Me Russell — Russell Peters
92. The Golden Compass — Philip Pullman
93. Homeport — Nora Roberts
After an assault at her family home in Maine, Dr. Miranda Jones is determined to put the experience behind her. Distraction comes when she is summoned to Italy — to verify the authenticity of a Renaissance bronze of a Medici courtesan known as The Dark Lady. But instead of cementing Miranda’s reputation as the leading expert in the field, the job nearly destroys it when her professional judgment is called into question. Emotionally estranged from her mother, and with a brother immersed in his own troubles, Miranda has no one to turn to…except Ryan Boldari, a seductive art thief whose own agenda forces them into a reluctant alliance.
Now it becomes clear that the incident in Maine was not a simple mugging — and that The Dark Lady may possess as many secrets as its beautiful namesake once did. For Miranda, forced to rely on herself — and a partner who offers her both unnerving suspicion and intoxicating passion — the only way home is filled with deception, treachery, and a danger that threatens them all.
Firstly, a riddle: what do you do when you’re two books behind in your challenge? Read a Nora Roberts book, they’re quick and easy. Ba dum bum chhhh. Okay, so that was a really bad joke (probably due to how late it is right now), but you get the drift. I’m fortunately only a book behind now, so if I read a book a day for two days I should be back where I need to be. But speed-reading through a Nora Roberts loaner from my mother did help me get closer to being back on track.
After reading Homeport, my first issue was with the title itself: the title of a book is supposed to mostly be indicative of its content. In this case, it’s not remotely related to the story at all, and I don’t know why it was chosen. But that’s just being nitpicky.
In terms of general review, I think this was kind of an ambitious story for Roberts. It had a lot going on — romance (times two), a mystery, alcoholism, dysfunctional families, an ex wife, and a crap load of Renaissance art. Most of it was done well: the main romance didn’t leave a bitter taste in my mouth (though the secondary one felt rushed due to it being restricted to the last 50 pages), the mystery was decent. I especially liked the way Andrew Jones’s alcoholism was covered, both through his eyes and Miranda’s, and I like that it wasn’t just a rushed storyline.
However, what I felt Roberts struggled with was pacing. The book itself is quite large, and she had the room to deal with all these plots she’d woven (in total, there were about four and a half). But instead of using that space to the best of her ability, I think she missed opportunities to cut unnecessary scenes in favour of adding more development to other plots. For example, the main mystery dragged on for a while, and led me to question why I was still reading the book, whereas Miranda’s brother Andrew only got about two or three pages total to cover his own romantic storyline. Am I supposed to fall in love with him and his particular love interest in three pages? I didn’t know how to feel about them because I simply wasn’t given the time to absorb it.
I did really like the two final twists the book presented, but one of them covered a really dicey topic (SPOILERS: incest) and no one even addressed it other than that it came out in the open, which I feel is just a waste, and is grossly abusing shock-and-awe tactics. I, as the reader, was expecting some kind of character reaction, but no one seemed to care that SPOILERS: this woman had married her nephew! Does no one want to vomit as much as I want to vomit right now?
On a final note: I’ve been playing Assassin’s Creed with my sister lately, the second game (we tag-team it), and some of the names mentioned in the Italian Renaissance art talk throughout the book were also mentioned in the game. The more you know!
Next book: I need something quick to read.