This book is a perfect example of why Nora Roberts is the Queen of Romance. Cilla McGowan is a former child star who now flips houses for a living. Her grandmother Janet Hardy was a famous film star who bought a farm in Virginia to have a place to get away from Hollywood. Janet committed suicide under mysterious circumstances at the farm after her teenage son died while driving intoxicated. Janet's daughter and Cilla's mother Dilly pushed Cilla into show business. Cilla forces her mother into giving her the farm in exchange for seed money so Dilly can open up a cabaret act to revive her career. Cilla plans to remodel the house and finally have a home all her own. Then she meets Ford Sawyer and his dog, Spock. Ford is a graphic novelist who lives across the street from the farm. He is attracted to Cilla and she becomes the inspiration for a new graphic novel. They become friends with the hope of becoming more. Then someone starts trespassing on the property and making threats. What are they looking for? Could it be linked to the questionable suicide of Janet Hardy so long ago?
Nora Roberts is a master at suspense. I didn't know who the vandal was until the very end. She gives you plenty of suspects which made it so challenging to figure out who it was. The research for the book must have been a killer, all the remodeling and construction information. Ms. Roberts, however, seamlessly blends the information into the book so it really feels like Cilla knows what she is doing. Cilla is very strong and self-reliant character and Ford is yummy in a geeky sort of way. They feel so real and it was great to see them become involved. They both seem to enjoy each others strengths and weaknesses which made the relationship more tangible. Kudos to Ms. Roberts for creating another memorable story.
Virginia's Shenandoah Valley is a long way from Hollywood. And that's exactly how Cilla McGowan wants it. Cilla, a former child star who has found more satisfying work as a restorer of old houses, has come to her grandmother's farmhouse, tools at her side, to rescue it from ruin. Sadly, no one was able to save her grandmother, the legendary Janet Hardy. An actress with a tumultuous life, Janet entertained glamorous guests and engaged in decadent affairs—but died of an overdose in this very house more than thirty years earlier. To this day, Janet haunts Cilla's dreams. And during waking hours, Cilla is haunted by her melodramatic, five-times-married mother, who carried on in the public spotlight and never gave her a chance at a normal childhood. By coming east, rolling up her sleeves, and rehabbing this wreck of a house, Cilla intends to find some kind of normalcy for herself.
Plunging into the project with gusto, she's almost too busy to notice her neighbor, graphic novelist Ford Sawyer—but his lanky form, green eyes, and easy, unflappable humor (not to mention his delightfully ugly dog, Spock) are hard to ignore. Determined not to perpetuate the family tradition of ill-fated romances, Cilla steels herself against Ford's quirky charm, but she can't help indulging in a little fantasy.
But love and a peaceful life may not be in the cards for Cilla. In the attic, she has found a cache of unsigned letters suggesting that Janet Hardy was pregnant when she died—and that the father was a local married man. Cilla can't help but wonder what really happened all those years ago. The mystery only deepens with a series of intimidating acts and a frightening, violent assault.And if Cilla and Ford are unable to sort out who is targeting her and why, she may—like her world-famous grandmother— be cut down in the prime of her life.
Not only has Nora Roberts written more bestsellers than anyone else in the world (according to Publishers Weekly), she’s also created a hybrid genre of her own: the futuristic detective romance. And that’s on top of mastering every subgenre in the romance pie: the family saga, the historical, the suspense novel. But this most prolific and versatile of authors might never have tapped into her native talent if it hadn't been for one fateful snowstorm.
As her fans well know, in 1979 a blizzard trapped Roberts at home for a week with two bored little kids and a dwindling supply of chocolate. To maintain her sanity, Roberts started scribbling a story -- a romance novel like the Harlequin paperbacks she'd recently begun reading. The resulting manuscript was rejected by Harlequin, but that didn't matter to Roberts. She was hooked on writing. Several rejected manuscripts later, her first book was accepted for publication by Silhouette.
For several years, Roberts wrote category romances for Silhouette -- short books written to the publisher's specifications for length, subject matter and style, and marketed as part of a series of similar books. Roberts has said she never found the form restrictive. "If you write in category, you write knowing there's a framework, there are reader expectations," she explained. "If this doesn't suit you, you shouldn't write it. I don't believe for one moment you can write well what you wouldn't read for pleasure."
Roberts never violated the reader's expectations, but she did show a gift for bringing something fresh to the romance formula. Her first book, Irish Thoroughbred (1981), had as its heroine a strong-willed horse groom, in contrast to the fluttering young nurses and secretaries who populated most romances at the time. But Roberts's books didn't make significant waves until 1985, when she published Playing the Odds, which introduced the MacGregor clan. It was the first bestseller of many.
Roberts soon made a name for herself as a writer of spellbinding multigenerational sagas, creating families like the Scottish MacGregors, the Irish Donovans and the Ukrainian Stanislaskis. She also began working on romantic suspense novels, in which the love story unfolds beneath a looming threat of violence or disaster. She grew so prolific that she outstripped her publishers' ability to print and market Nora Roberts books, so she created an alter ego, J.D. Robb. Under the pseudonym, she began writing romantic detective novels set in the future. By then, millions of readers had discovered what Publishers Weekly called her "immeasurable diversity and talent."
Although the style and substance of her books has grown, Roberts remains loyal to the genre that launched her career. As she says, "The romance novel at its core celebrates that rush of emotions you have when you are falling in love, and it's a lovely thing to relive those feelings through a book."