by Nora Roberts
Lunacy is Nate Burke's last chance. As a Baltimore cop, he watched his partner die--and the guilt still haunts him. Maybe serving as chief of police in this tiny, remote town, where darkness falls by midafternoon and temperatures plunge to zero and below, will bring some kind of solace. It isn't as if he had anywhere else to go.
Aside from sorting out a run-in between a couple of motor vehicles and a moose--and pulling apart two brothers who are beating each other silly over a disagreement about John Wayne--Nate's first weeks on the job are relatively quiet. But as he wonders whether this was all a big mistake, an unexpected kiss on New Year's Eve under the brilliant northern lights of the Alaska sky lifts his spirit--and convinces him to stay just a little longer.
Meg Galloway, born and raised here, is used to being alone. She was still a young girl when her father disappeared, and she's learned to be independent, flying her small plane, living on the outskirts with just her huskies for company. But after her New Year's kiss with the chief of police, she allows herself to give in to passion. She doesn't want commitment--yet there's something about Nate's sad eyes that gets under her skin, and warms her frozen heart.
And now, things in Lunacy are heating up. Because years ago, on one of the majestic mountains that shadow the town, a crime occurred that is unsolved to this day--and Nate suspects that a killer still walks the snowy streets. His investigation will bring out the secrets and suspicions that lurk beneath the placid suface--as well as the big-city survival instincts that made him a cop in the first place. And it will threaten the new life, and the new love, that he has finally found for himself.
Even though it took about 30% for the main conflict and excitement to begin, this book was actually a lot of fun. On a side note, I have a thing for wintry settings, especially those with a possible crime thriller plot. And admittedly, despite the rather banal, everyday happenings of our newest Lunacy Chief of Police, I really, really enjoyed Northern Lights.
True to form, there were still a lot of things about this book that didn't work for me, but oddly enough, the little snippets of journal, the two or three "Police Log" entries in the town's only newpaper, and even some of the really subtle, but much appreciated humor made this book shine amidst all the crazy. Lunacy, Alaska is very aptly named, and all the strange hijinks of the small town people made this extremely long book very worthwhile.
I also found the spin on the name 'Lunacy' for different aspects of the town kind of endearing. The residents refer to themselves as 'Lunatics,' the newspaper is named 'The Lunatic,' and so on.
I would have liked for the crime thriller portion of the book to be a bit more exciting, if I were to be totally honest. And I would have liked for Meg to be a bit less bitchy, and for Nate to be a bit less neanderthal. But all-in-all, between the atmosphere and all the unique, colorful characters, I found myself quite immersed in the day-to-day goings on of the Lunatics, especially as seen from a fresh set of eyes, a man from the Lower 48, who finds everything amusing, strange, and kind of 'Twilight Zone' to boot.
The murder mystery that finally got presented at the 30% mark was quite twisty-turny, and I found myself analyzing each and every possible suspect alongside Nate. It was actually quite unpredictable, but at the same time, not so surprising when the main culprit was finally revealed. The ending, on the other hand, was a little too daintily packaged, but there's a Happily Ever After, and the rest of the book was entertaining enough, so I'm not really complaining too much.
On a side note, I've yet to encounter a Nora Roberts romance that I've actually liked. I have a bone to pick with almost every one of them--with most of the Nora Roberts heroes being incredibly pushy and acting like cavemen; or the heroines being more bitchy and stupidly stubborn than I would like.
However, in truth, if I were to choose one Roberts hero who comes close to being a favorite, though, I might choose Nate Burke. He's got a tragic history, a broody persona, but all-in-all he's quite down-to-earth, and takes steps to help himself climb back out of his own black hole. I love his spunk and how well he handles the irrational actions and behavior of the people of Lunacy, especially when they look for reasons to hate him for being an Outsider appointed as their Chief of Police.
The one thing I DON'T like his is penchant for shoving Meg behind him when everyone and their mothers know that she can take care of herself just fine. Granted, she's got a reckless streak about her, and she might be bitchy and stubborn as heck, but I found it a little insulting that, when faced with a wilderness of danger, his first instinct was to tell Meg to hide. Yes, maybe in a less politically correct world, this might seem heroic and swoon-worthy. But being that Meg has had much more experience living in the outskirts of Lunacy, Alaska, facing down tough flights, harsh winters, and wandering wildlife, you'd think he'd trust her instincts more than his own need to protect.
Anyway, before I jump on top of another soapbox, I should probably just bring this piece to a close.
Northern Lights was pretty entertaining, and no one is more surprised than I am to find how much I enjoyed reading a Romantic Suspense that felt more like a banal Contemporary Romance. It wouldn't be the first time, and probably won't be the last. But this time, I'm pleasantly surprised to admit that I hadn't even worried that the 'suspense' part of this Romantic Suspense felt a little unbalanced.
Nora Roberts, you've done it again. Another conflicting feel to another well written novel.
Author was born pre-1955.
Page Count: 562
Cash Award: +$15.00
Updated Bank Balance: $210.00