Release Review: The Obsession: Nora Roberts

The Obsession
Nora Roberts
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The riveting new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Liar.

Naomi Bowes lost her innocence the night she followed her father into the woods. In freeing the girl trapped in the root cellar, Naomi revealed the horrible extent of her father’s crimes and made him infamous.

Now a successful photographer living under the name Naomi Carson, she has found a place that calls to her, thousands of miles away from everything she’s ever known. Naomi wants to embrace the solitude, but the residents of Sunrise Cove keep forcing her to open up—especially the determined Xander Keaton.

Naomi can feel her defenses failing, and knows that the connection her new life offers is something she’s always secretly craved. But as she’s learned time and again, her past is never more than a nightmare away.

Roberts is one of those authors I love reading because I know what to expect when I open the book. I often don't even have to read the blurb to figure things out. But The Obsession bucked that trend for me and I loved the unexpected.

Naomi witnessed horrors at age 12 that no one should experience in one's lifetime. Running from her past finds her loving her job as a photographer while staying on the move. When a house in a small Washington town calls to her, she decides to try setting roots in the hopes that they stick. Her only family lives in New York, and though they would love for her to settle closer (and think she is crazy for taking on the rehab project of a house) their main goal is for her to be happy.

Xander has lived in Sunrise Cove all his life. His roots are deep in the town, as the owner of the only garage and all his lifelong friends live in the area. He is loyal, caring, and protective. He works hard, and enjoys the benefits of a simple life. He has never had serious feelings for a woman, though he is no monk. His best friends, a contractor and landscape designer, have been by his side since childhood.

These two are so sweet together. Though Naomi is hiding her true identity, Xander finds a way to break down her walls and get to know the real Naomi rather than the one she projects. Slowly but surely, Naomi finds herself carving a place in this small town. When bodies begin turning up though, her nightmares seem to be coming to life once again and she can’t help but notice the similarities to her father’s crimes all those years ago.

I was unprepared for how dark the first 20% of this book was. Though I read the book blurb, I guess I missed just how hard hitting this one would be and it took me longer than usual to make it through the childhood scenes that set up Naomi’s situation. I just couldn’t read for a long time without having to take a break and lighten my own mood. But once those darker scenes were in her past, I loved getting to know adult Naomi. She still carried the scars from her childhood, but was trying to forget the ugly she had come from.

As Naomi settles into Sunrise Cove, her true personality begins to show, her walls drop, and despite trying to keep herself apart from the community, she finds herself welcomed and accepted.

I loved Xander’s persistence when it came to Naomi. He was willing to move at her pace and give her the time she needed to get used to him, though he was very clear he wanted more the entire time. As the danger around them grew, his insistence that she let him in only grew until she couldn’t help but let him in.

I loved the uncles and her brother. Their constant support and love, though from across the country, was something I love seeing in a character with this much history. Though they don’t play a huge part in the present day scenes, the love they established for her in the past was enough to anchor her in the present. The opposite ways Naomi and Mason dealt with their father’s crimes presented itself fully in their adult choices, and I loved his presence in the present.
The way this story circled around was entirely engrossing. I couldn’t help but fall into this story and not want to leave. The twists and turns as danger reared up, with snippets of scenes narrated by the unknown villain, kept me flipping pages as fast as I could. I still can’t tell, several days after reading, if I love this story so much because it has been so long since I read a Nora Roberts standalone, or if it is truely heads and tails above what I think about when I think of her writing. I have always enjoyed Roberts’ tales, she was the first romance author I ever read, and I still turn to her when I need a comfortable read, but this felt like so much more than I usually expect from her tales.

ARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review. 
Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts was born in Silver Spring, Maryland, the youngest of five children. After a school career that included some time in Catholic school and the discipline of nuns, she married young and settled in Keedysville, Maryland.

She worked briefly as a legal secretary. “I could type fast but couldn’t spell, I was the worst legal secretary ever,” she says now. After her sons were born she stayed home and tried every craft that came along. A blizzard in February 1979 forced her hand to try another creative outlet. She was snowed in with a three and six year old with no kindergarten respite in sight and a dwindling supply of chocolate.

Born into a family of readers, Nora had never known a time that she wasn’t reading or making up stories. During the now-famous blizzard, she pulled out a pencil and notebook and began to write down one of those stories. It was there that a career was born. Several manuscripts and rejections later, her first book, Irish Thoroughbred, was published by Silhouette in 1981.

Nora met her second husband, Bruce Wilder, when she hired him to build bookshelves. They were married in July 1985. Since that time, they’ve expanded their home, traveled the world and opened a bookstore together.

Through the years, Nora has always been surrounded by men. Not only was she the youngest in her family, but she was also the only girl. She has raised two sons. Having spent her life surrounded by men, Ms. Roberts has a fairly good view of the workings of the male mind, which is a constant delight to her readers. It was, she’s been quoted as saying, a choice between figuring men out or running away screaming.

Nora is a member of several writers groups and has won countless awards from her colleagues and the publishing industry. Recently The New Yorker called her “America’s favorite novelist.”


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