The Obsession by Nora Roberts
Category: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Berkley (April 12, 2016)
Author Website: http://www.noraroberts.com/
Blue Ribbon Rating: 5 + Recommended Read
SNIPPET: One of Nora Roberts’ best novels, THE OBSESSION is jam-packed with stimulating characters and layers of emotion in a suspenseful story that takes its time toying with the reader. So good!
A couple days before her twelfth birthday, Naomi can’t sleep and follows her father deep into the woods. Children aren’t allowed in the woods but she hopes her father will forgive her and let her go for a swim in the creek to cool off from the stagnant night heat. When she discovers her father’s hideaway in an old cellar, Naomi sneaks in there after he leaves to see if he bought her a bike for her birthday. Instead, she finds a bound girl who has been beaten and raped. Naomi helps the girl escape and they both run for the sheriff’s office. What follows is more than any twelve-year-old should be forced to endure. Will Naomi and her younger brother Mason’s life ever be the same when everyone finds out that their father is a serial killer?
Naomi and Mason are raised by their uncles while their mother continues to be controlled by their father’s demands from jail. Their mother’s brother Seth and his husband Harry eventually move to New York to start a restaurant and provide a safe place for their niece and nephew to grow up. But can they ever make a tragedy go far enough away to have a normal life?
Years later, Naomi is a successful photographer, learning to never stay in one place too long for anyone to suspect anything about her past. When she finally decides to buy the huge house on the bluff in the state of Washington and renovate it, Naomi thinks she has finally found somewhere she can stay. It’s in the middle of nowhere, but she craves solitude and privacy. Meeting a sexy mechanic who pushes all her right buttons convinces Naomi it’s finally time to let go a little bit. She even adopts the dog she found limping along at the side of the road. Something else completely uncharacteristic of her nomad lifestyle. Is there such a thing as happy-ever-after for a serial killer’s daughter when he can’t stop talking about where he buried the bodies?
Even though the book starts off really creepy, it takes a while for it to build back up to creepy again. I always knew something awful was going to happen again so I expected it. But the way this is written, it’s easy to be lulled into the good parts of the story. There’s a lot of self-discovery and happiness in this book for the characters so it’s not edgy constantly. There’s always that underlying expectation of evil, but a good portion of this book is so varied and interesting that the complete package is quite wonderful.
I easily connected with Naomi. She’s smart and independent, excited to rehab an enormous house within beautiful surroundings. She’s an independent photographer by trade, but she also cooks to relax. Naomi’s photography business is fascinating and I really enjoyed following her adventures as she searches out subjects to bring to life through her lenses, then photoshopping and framing. Through those details, I got to know a likeable and intriguing character. Naomi also makes friends with a young mother who repurposes furniture, and their search to fill the house with intriguing pieces is enjoyable as well. It’s really easy to want a good life for Naomi and feel as if she deserves it.
Naomi’s uncles are amazing and they are the reason she loves to cook. They own a restaurant in New York so Naomi learns from the best. Her brother Mason dreams of becoming a profiler and he’s also a fascinating character. When Naomi meets Xander, the sparks fly. He’s a mechanic and plays in a band, but there’s so much more to discover about Xander that it’s easy to understand why Naomi is attracted to him. Xander and his friends are great characters and kept me glued to the pages. Their devotion to Naomi, when she’s so determined to be on her own, is another aspect of the book that makes it worth reading.
I found the details in this book completely fascinating. It’s full of subjects I love like photography, nature, garden, art, renovation, hiking and food that create an intriguing story in-between the edgy parts. The rehab of Naomi’s almost mansion on the bluff is really exciting to read about. Naomi continues to work her photography while helping with some of the rehab, but mostly it’s a hired team working on room after room, including five bathrooms. There are details about Naomi’s career that captivated me, as well as great descriptions of what she cooks. Multi-talented, Naomi is easy to like and root for, plus she’s no wallflower. She’s tough and isn’t afraid of hard work.
I couldn’t help but feel for Naomi. She never completely lets her guard down for years. When she finally feels like she might be able to start a real life, her past comes back to haunt her. It could destroy most with past trauma in their history. Is she strong enough to fight for the life she wants to live?
A warning – this book is partly about a serial rapist and murderer. There are enough details to make it realistic and it could upset some readers. It’s not overly done, but it’s there. There’s plenty of beauty in this novel to offset the ugly, so it’s a positive experience. As someone who dislikes this type of violence on television and in books, I felt this was written with finesse.
Even if you’re not a fan of Roberts, you will be after reading this well-crafted piece of fiction. In many ways it’s smoother than novels by Nora Roberts that I’ve read previously, as if each sentence was fussed over to perfection. The characterization is finely honed. I couldn’t find anything to dislike about this book. It’s excellent. It’s beautifully descriptive. It’s creepy. It’s fun. And it has a great romance.
This is the exact type of romantic suspense I prefer. So many times the romance suffers or the romance is unbelievable in a romantic suspense. Not in this novel. The tension is crafted in such a way that you feel like you’re rooting for people you know. The romance doesn’t interfere with the suspense and the action doesn’t overshadow the romance. It’s a perfect balance. I really hope Naomi’s brother Mason’s book is next because he’s just as intriguing as Naomi.
THE OBSESSION illuminates Nora Roberts at the top of her game. You’ll be obsessed with this novel until the last page, then you’ll want to savor it again. I already miss it. THE OBSESSION is highly recommended as an addictive and riveting contemporary romantic suspense with captivating, imperfect characters. My only complaint is that there has to be an end.
Review by Dorine, courtesy of Romance Junkies.