It All Began With Nora Roberts - Diane Benefiel's Reading Journey
Ever fall in love with a fictional hero? I mean in love kind of love. Like heart palpitations, sweaty palms, I-can’t-breathe kind of love. Having to wait to pick up that book again is sheer torture. Many years ago when I first started reading romance, that was Rafe MacKade, of Nora Roberts’s The Return of Rafe MacKade. It wasn’t just that he was the perfect bad boy – he got in fights to protect the weak, he loved his brothers, and he fell for his exact opposite – the prim and proper Regan Bishop. No, it’s more. It’s the way Ms. Roberts made him both strong and vulnerable, and oh, so very sexy. What Nora Roberts does best is write men, and she’s so successful, in part, because we readers fall for those men. She has her finger on exactly what it is about men that appeals to women, and then magnifies it. I’ve read and reread that book, and every time there’s a part of me there in the diner, sitting with Regan, and sighing when Rafe MacKade barrels back into town.
The Chesapeake Bay Saga makes us all wish the Quinn’s were our family. Family, whether biological or chosen, forms a consistent theme throughout many of Nora Roberts’s books. The premise of the series is brilliant: take people unrelated by blood and forge the bonds of family. Three troubled boys are adopted by Stella and Ray Quinn and raised as brothers, and each one of them is challenged to sacrifice himself for the sake of his family. The series is tied together by the unexpected arrival of Seth, the boy who makes the brothers question whether the man they called their father could have possibly cheated on their mother. Infidelity can shatter a family, but the brothers hold on to their faith and bring Seth into their family as the fourth brother. Sea Swept, the first of the Chesapeake Saga, gives us another hero to fall in love with. Cameron Quinn is living the ultimate decadent playboy lifestyle – fast boats, fast money, fast women. But when his family needs him, he abandons it all to be there for them, even though he’s never sure he will ever be happy again. Is there anything more heroic? Cameron’s priorities shift, and he’s all in when he meets Anna Spinelli, another damaged soul searching for love and family. Want a tortured hero? Ethan Quinn of Rising Tides, Book 2, has been emotionally wounded by a horrific childhood that he’s fighting to overcome and move past. He’s been in love with Grace Monroe forever – he watches out for her, protects her, fights for her – but his personal demons won’t allow him to reach for that love. Watching him conquer those demons is heart wrenching and makes you sigh.
Then there’s Brooks Gleason of The Witness. Good heavens, does Ms. Roberts get that man right. What makes him lovable is that while he’s no pushover, Brooks is not afraid to be with Abigail on her terms, terms dictated by the past she’s brought with her to his little town. He isn’t intimidated by this incredibly strong woman, and once he falls for her, he is patiently immovable. He goes after what he wants, which is Abigail, and is a rock in her search for justice. Brooks shows strong leadership without being a jerk, he enjoys his family, and he’s just plain adorable in a sexy, home-grown sort of way.
These are just a few of my favorite Nora Roberts books, and while they form the foundation for what I look for in a good romance, they also have provided me with the best of examples for what I want to achieve in my own books. When I decided to seriously pursue writing, I held up Nora Roberts’s work as my ideal. What I felt for her heroes? I want to pull those same emotions from my readers when they read my books. I want them swept away, to give them an escape from their day, and make them fall a little bit in love. My books, a reviewer recently wrote on Amazon, ‘reminded me of the classic Nora Roberts romance novels’. If that is even a tiny bit true, I have succeeded.
Diane Benefiel enjoys writing contemporary romantic suspense. A high school history teacher in her day job, she is always searching for pockets of time to write. Diane enjoys spending time with her husband and growing family – by growing, she means the recent addition of her first grandchild. With the recent purchase of a trailer, she and her husband have taken to the open highway to expand their ‘been there’ list. Their favorite ‘go-to’ location for long weekends is the Eastern Sierra Nevada, an area that has become a favorite setting for her novels. Visit her website at www.dianebenefiel.com and sign up for her newsletter to stay abreast of new happenings.
Deadly Purpose, High Sierras Series, Book 5
THE SILVER LINING
Meghan Bennett is desperate and running for her life, and the one place she'll be safe is the old cabin in the Eastern Sierras she inherited from her father. Exhausted and fighting a nasty flu, Meg can't believe someone is squatting in her cabin. The tall, bearded stranger who answers the door is her worst nightmare. Grumpy, growly and intractable, she can't convince him to leave. When she nearly collapses, she finds herself on the couch in front of a welcome fire. Over the next few days she thinks she can trust this man with more than her safety. Too late, she learns he has betrayed her, and her trust shatters – right along with her heart.
Declan Murphy has been rebuilding his life, and he revels in the solitude he finds in his mentor's cabin. Then a pissed-off woman shows up in the middle of a cold, snowy night. She insists the cabin is hers and that he needs to get out. Dex is ready to shut the door in her face - until he realizes she's sick, and even he's not that big a jerk. Life gets complicated when he figures out she's his mentor’s daughter, and that she's the biggest asset in the investigation he's working on with the FBI. He’s screwed. He's fallen hard for the stubborn beauty, yet he can't jeopardize the case by telling her the truth about what he's doing. He knows when she finds out, he's going to lose the woman he’s beginning to realize he needs more than his next breath.