Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Review: The Witness by Nora Roberts

Daughter of a controlling mother, Elizabeth finally lets loose one night, drinking at a nightclub and allowing a strange man's seductive Russian accent lure her to a house on Lake Shore Drive. The events that followed changed her life forever.

Twelve years later, the woman known as Abigail Lowery lives on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks. A freelance programmer, she designs sophisticated security systems--and supplements her own security with a fierce dog and an assortment of firearms. She keeps to herself, saying little, revealing nothing. But Abigail's reserve only intrigues police chief Brooks Gleason. Her logical mind, her secretive nature, and her unromantic viewpoints leave him fascinated but frustrated. He suspects that Abigail needs protection from something--and that her elaborate defenses hide a story that must be revealed.
The Witness by Nora Roberts is her 200th novel. That's a great achievement, however, the best aspect of this celebration is that Ms. Roberts has done it with style by coming up with a winner!

The Witness is a stand alone romance suspense novel with all the ingredients that make this genre work. Ms. Roberts front loads the story with the tense and suspenseful story of a teenage Elizabeth Fitch whose one moment of rebellion against her cold and controlling mother ends in blood and tragedy. At age sixteen, witnessing two murders committed by the Russian Mafia and the events that follow change her life forever. This first section of the story entitled Elizabeth is gripping, fast paced, and action packed. I was sitting at the edge of my sit, holding my breath, wondering what and how, events were going to unfold.

Twelve years later in a small tourist town in the Osarks, the newest resident loner and local curiosity Abigail Lowery meets the town's police chief Brooks Gleason. At this point the story shifts into more of a contemporary romance, but in the background it maintains that thrum of suspense from the first section of the book. The reader doesn't know what is going to happen or if that part of Abigail/Elizabeth's life is going to come roaring back into her life at any minute. So while the romance builds, the tension oozing from Abigail's character, her paranoia and fear, all serve to keep the reader on edge.

The romance between Brooks and Abigail is wonderful. Abigail is socially inadequate, with the awkward personality of someone who is brilliant and logical but concrete in her way of thinking. By choice and necessity, she has maintained herself isolated and is easily confused by everyday interactions and emotions. Brooks on the other hand is a charmer who comes from a close-knit family and thankfully has magnificent social skills. He's a good cop with excellent insight and judgment, and an even better man who is not only understanding and protective, but loves unconditionally and is able to think outside of the box. These two balance each other out perfectly.

Brooks falls for Abigail like a ton of bricks and doesn't give up on her for one minute. I love the way he romances Abigail -- the way Brooks confuses and annoys her with the kind of logic she just doesn't understand, and is relentless until she opens up slowly to the possibility that she too can have love, specifically this man's, in her life.

The Witness is a long novel divided into four sections, yet it doesn't "feel" like a long read. One of the aspects of the novel that helps along is the fact that the suspense and the romance are well woven together. There's edge at the beginning, romance with that underlying thrum of suspense plus a few side plots with action throughout the middle to keep the reader on edge, and a satisfying and rather surprising ending to all of it.

Abigail designs sophisticated security systems and, as always, Ms. Roberts has done excellent research for this novel on that front, but there are no long sections where that research is overtly exposed, instead it is woven tightly with the plot. The other pleasing aspect of the novel is that although Ms. Roberts makes Brooks' family come alive to the reader, they do not take the focus away from the main characters or the suspense plot. In this case, just as the rest of the characters in the town, they serve as a perfect foil to the main characters.

The Witness is what I've come to expect from a Nora Roberts novel. There's a reason Nora Roberts has become my "go to" contemporary author throughout the years. If you want to know why she's such a success read The Witness, it is an excellent example of her best efforts.

Category: Contemporary Romance Suspense
Series: None
Publisher/Release Date: Putnam/April 17, 2012 - Kindle Ed.
Grade: A

Visit Nora Roberts here.

Nora Roberts - Romance Suspense Reviews:
The Search
Black Hills
High Noon

16 comments:

  1. I'm so glad to see this getting good reviews as I love the plot synopsis. I'm #5 on the library wait list, so I hope that means it comes in this weekend. Great review. Thanks, Hils!

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    1. Phyl, this book was such a great surprise to me! I loved the synopsis too, and it was tough not reading reviews until I read the book. It paid off and turned out to be a great read for me. I hope you enjoy it too. :D

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  2. Man, this book has been getting awesome ratings all over the place! I might have to break down and give Nora Roberts another shot. Great review!

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    1. Samantha, this is a good example of SR by Nora Roberts. I think if you're a lover of the contemporary romance genre with edgy suspense, you'll love this book. If you prefer blood and guts with a touch of romance then this won't do it for you. Personally, I loved this one. :)

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  3. Woohoo! You and Nath both really enjoy this one. Now I just need to get to the library and pick up my copy. :)

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    1. Leslie, I think you'll enjoy this book too! I know you liked The Search, and in my humble opinion this one is better, soooo.... go for it! ;P

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  4. Didn't read the review, just looked at the grade. An A?! Sad to say but NR hasn't been doing it for me lately, but I'm really excited if you think this is an A... will be adding to my buy-list.

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    1. Mariana, I think we've both been having a bit of a problem with NR's releases these past couple of years. I also think we share(d) the same concerns too. However, this book? Yeah... it did it for me and, although I can't guarantee that it will be an A read for you (that's always a matter of personal taste), I think you'll find that there's plenty in there to recommend it highly. I hope you enjoy it!

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  5. Great review, Hils! I'm envious because I think you worded it better.

    I totally agree with you on everything. I think The Witness was a great book and I'm so glad that you enjoyed it :)

    It was great that The Witness didn't feel like an information dump. She wove it so tightly to the storyline that seriously, I didn't feel it at all.

    And really, I loved the romance between Brooks and Abigail! Loved how they were so different and how Brooks wooed her :P Poor Abigail, never saw what hit her LOL.

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  6. Thank you, Nath. :D

    I love being able to give NR an A! You know I'm a big fan and it is tough not giving her kudos all the time. LOL!
    I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to read a book by NR again without that info dump that we've found in some of the latest releases. This was the tight plotting that I usually expect from her. Yay!

    And yes... I love the fact that as romance fans we were not short-changed either, and the romance is as much a focus in this story as the suspense. Loved Brooks and Abigail! I loved Abigail's confusion and the way he works her... ohhh, and I forgot the dog! I loved that there are dogs in this story too. :D

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  7. Fantastic review, Hils. I'm so glad everyone is loving this novel. I was thinking of buying just because it was Nora's 200th book, but now I'm SUPER excited to buy AND read it. LOL! Kind of backward book-buying strategy, but I don't care!

    We should plan a girls field trip to Boonsboro one weekend for one of Nora's signings. What do you think? You, me, Mariana and Natalie.

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    1. Christine, if you're going to read a suspense romance book by NR then this is the one! The fact that it's her 200th book makes it even more attractive.

      I would LOVE to plan a trip to Boonsboro! My hubby has been talking about taking me there forever, but you know... it would be great to go with other fans. :D

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    2. Hilcia, we should totally do it. Let's talk about it the next time we all get together. :)

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  8. I liked this book much better than the last few Nora Roberts books. It was predictable but enjoyable. I liked the intelligent heroine and enjoyed that she was able to take care of herself. I also liked that the hero respected the heroine's strengths.

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    1. Danmark, I agree. This was much better than NR's latest. The central characters had strengths on both sides and they balanced each other quite nicely. I also liked that.

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  9. I thought this book was one of the best books I've ready by Nora Roberts in a long time. The story was great as was the character development. I do have to agree with the others that the Kindle price was high (I am aware the publisher sets the price) and I do not think it is fair that people living outside the U.S. has to pay more for a Kindle book then we do when they get it the same way....that's just wrong.

    Irene Jennings (Sherri Hill Homecoming Dresses)

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