Thursday, May 10, 2012

Review: The Last Boyfriend (Inn BoonsBoro #2) by Nora Roberts

Continuing with my blogiversary week, today I'm highlighting another author whose works I have reviewed repeatedly at Impressions throughout the last three years. Nora Roberts has been my "go to" contemporary romance author for years. Throughout the years some of her romance books have become my comfort reads, my chicken soup for the soul. Roberts has had two releases within the last month, The Witness, a book I highly recommend, and of course the latest release in her straight contemporary romance series:

The Last Boyfriend (Inn BoonsBoro, #2)

The Last Boyfriend is the second book in Nora Roberts' Inn BoonsBoro contemporary romance series. Avery McTavish, the owner of the popular pizzeria Vestra, caught my attention in the first book of the series and I've been looking forward to reading her romance with the manager and organizational genius in the Montgomery family, Owen.

What did I find in this novel by a favorite romance writer? In this book, Roberts most definitely uses a true form of the "friends to lovers" trope. Owen and Avery grew up together and have known each other since they were children. Avery even chose Owen as her first boyfriend when she was five years old, but since then they have been the best of friends. However, the relationship between them changes after they exchange a passionate kiss at the inn.

In The Last Boyfriend, and unlike what I found in the first book, there is more of a focus on the romance between Owen and Avery. They spend more time together on the page getting to know each other as a couple figuring out their new feelings and if or how they should go forward with a new relationship. As characters they are both extremely likable. Owen is a dependable, sexy sweetheart with a heart of gold, and Avery is a strong and vulnerable firecracker. She's one of Nora Roberts' redhead characters.

Owen and Avery enter into an affair early in the story, and there are passionate moments between these two people during that time, however, after those initial moments sexual tension is lacking. Additionally, their friendship and knowledge of each other's foibles and strengths allows them to work out their differences easily, so that even when few conflicts arise between Owen and Avery they seem minimal.

Although Roberts makes more time for this couple, there is a definite family atmosphere to this story. Everyone is not only involved in what's going on between Owen and Avery, but Roberts also layers additional individual story lines to the mix. It's almost as if The Last Boyfriend is one romance with Avery and Owen at its center, but with a bigger romance being told: the one between the town of Boonsboro and the whole Montgomery clan.

Roberts knows how to convey that family atmosphere on the page, and there are some wonderful moments here between the Montgomery brothers, between Avery, Hope and Clare, and between Justine (mother Montgomery) and her boys. There's one particular scene between Justine and Owen that had me in stitches... poor Owen!

It is also true that Roberts is great when it comes to research and in these books it is particularly obvious that she knows her stuff. There's the design, construction, and decoration of the inn, and now there are also other structures being restored through Boonsboro, so there are details, details, details. Beautiful details, but again, at times way too many of them and everything just works out... perfectly. And then there's the friendly ghost at the inn who by now has made her wishes known and whose backstory will predictably tie in with Hope and Ryder's romance.

I found The Last Boyfriend to be  an entertaining, sweet, contemporary romance with minimal conflicts and predictable situations. It has likable characters and that wonderful family atmosphere I've come to expect from Ms. Roberts. So yes, although this story falls on the average side of the spectrum for me, there's some real tension between hot stuff Ryder and Hope in this book and I will definitely be reading the last book of the trilogy, The Perfect Hope.

Category: Contemporary Romance
Series: Inn BoonsBoro
Publisher/Release Date: Berkeley/May 1, 2012
Grade: C+

Visit Nora Roberts here.

The Next Always, #1
The Last Boyfriend, #2
The Perfect Hope, #3 (Releasing November 6, 2012)


  1. Hey Hils! :)

    You're right, The Last Boyfriend fell on the average side of the spectrum, but I still liked Avery and Owen a lot. Although I would have liked to see even more of Owen's organization side (especially towards the end). A lack of conflict isn't a bad thing, the problem in this case was it was a bit too predictable. If there wasn't going to be conflict, then the courtship needed a bit more zing :) And where The Next Always felt very much like an introductory book, The Last Boyfriend was a transitional book... heading towards the big reveal of the ghost instead of being really Avery and Owen's book. That's where it went wrong in my opinion.

    1. Nath, yes... Avery and Owen were SUCH likable characters! Owen was such a cute, anal retentive guy! I loved that aspect of his character too. LOL. I didn't mind the lack of too much conflict in this story either, but the lack of sexual tension and the predictability did get to me. Or as you say, that "zing" to the courtship is missing. It was enjoyable though... I like the whole family together.

  2. I'm halfway through this and I'm enjoying it well enough, but it hasn't grabbed me the way The Witness did. I expect at the end I'll be in full agreement with your review. Still, nobody writes like Nora and I'm glad to spend some time in BoonsBoro.

    1. Phyl, yes... this book is nowhere near as good as The Witness. They're different types of books, but still... And I agree with you, this is Nora and I also enjoyed spending time in Boonsboro with the Montgomory family.

  3. Great review!! I so need to get reading tis series!
    I love the friends to lovers trope and I hope I love this story too!

    1. Alex if you love friends to lovers you will love this series. The first book also featured a version of the trope. I hope you do love it. :)

  4. I knew this grade was going to happen :( I didn't read review, I'm waiting for book to be available in the library... I can't keep paying for books that I'm going to re-read or be crazy about.

    I'm thinking I may give up NR soon... that makes me so sad. We need to go see her in Maryland before that happens :)

    1. Mariana! Say it isn't so... you're not thinking of giving up on NR! Think of The Witness... what a great story that was. :D

      Yes, I DO understand though... I usually collect her books in print, and I'm getting these in ebook format. I'm not getting the print copies. Sigh...

      BUT, I'm thinking about that TRIP! I'm thinking about it seriously... it would be such, such fun! :)

  5. I'm curious about these books just because she's Nora.
    But I'm only going to get them when all of them are out.

    Say.. would you compare it - in style and amount of boredom vs intriguing moments - to the bride quartet? I found those books good but a bit boring because of the lack of sexual tension you mentioned before. The bride quartet was too bland, you know. So, would you say it's the same feeling here? Or close to it?

    1. Hey Sonia!

      Sigh... yes. I would say these are good (average) romance reads so far, with a bit extra (that +) because Nora has that great way of writing family interactions and making a relationship work. However, the romance itself is lukewarm.

      NOTE that I'm indicating a difference between her skill in developing relationships vs. romances in my statement at this point. The sizzle, chemistry and sexual tension is missing from both "romances" in the first and the second books in this series. There were none of those heart-pounding, or OMG moments for me in either of these books.

      The last book "promises" to have a bit more passion because the two people involved, Ryder and Hope, didn't grow up together (so no friend-to-lovers), and have established a hostile relationship so far. So there's some hope that sparks will fly. We will see. :)

      So far... yes, that same, bland feeling from The Bride Quartet.

      PS: Have you read The Witness yet? I highly recommend that one!

    2. I see your point...
      Well, that leaves me sad...because no matter how well done a family tree is in her books, the romance...I remember many great romantic scenes from lots of her books, like Shannon calling Murphy and telling him she loves him while drunk, like when Kate says all those things to Byron about needing him or how Gideon is the perfect guy for Cleo in Three Fates or the wonderful scene where Eve saves Alex's life in Command Performance...and so many others, but none of these scenes would mean a thing without the romantic way they slowly discovered each's just that her romances are getting too predictable and so...I'm sorry to say it, commercial.
      The Witness, no I haven't got it yet but I will, I know you liked it a lot!!

    3. Sigh... I know! I re-read those books just for moments like the ones you describe above! The ones that make you sigh, and then sigh some more.

      I'm afraid that the "spark" is missing from the last two romance series. Somehow in both series the romance has taken a back seat to the friendships, family interactions, and the research that (bridal, and now construction and decoration) NR has so studiously done for the books. I hate to use the term "info dump," but particularly in the Bridal Quartet that's the way it felt. In this series, less so, but that sense that research details take over the pages that should belong to the "romance" is very much there!

      One of the aspects of The Witness that I really love is the fact that NR did not let the research do the talking. In that novel, it is very well integrated with the romance and the suspense. AND the romance really takes precedence over the suspense, and the suspense is very much there in the reader's mind... keeping him/her on edge until the end. It's very well done! The best book she has written in a while, in my humble opinion. You need to read it, and let me know what you think about it.


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