Monday, August 23, 2010

My First Nora Roberts

Title: Born In Ice
Author: Nora Roberts
Publishers: Jove (1995)

I have avoided Nora Roberts for one reason: I'm deeply suspicious of any author that needs several pages to list her/his novels. Perhaps it's unfair of me (or simply insulting (or plain jealousy)) but to be that prolific and still write good books seems so improbable as to be statistically impossible. Born In Ice, while much better than I would have expected from someone who appears to write novels with factory-like output, was not good enough to change my suspicious mind. (NR fans, please feel free to set me right! I'm always interested in being pointed to the good works - easy to miss in a three page list, methinks.) Anyway, synopsis...

Brianna runs a bed and breakfast in Ireland. It's the slow season and she has only one guest. He is an American author finishing up his latest novel. Hmm, well, actually that's about it. Huh. It's not nearly as boring as that description makes it sound, though now I'm starting to see why there's just a picture of Roberts on the back cuz how does one come up with more back copy than what I've just said? Huh. Anyway... so Grayson's working on his book and Brianna's doing her thing of running the B&B. Brianna, by the way, is awesome! If I had half the skills she has I think it'd be ~100x as many as I currently have. Holy damn, she is one talented lady! She's also excellent at dealing with Grayson's moodiness. She's got a great way of cutting right to the issue and making a person feel pretty small for being a jerk. Grayson's actually not a bad guy he's just up and down depending on how the writing is going. (I actually enjoy when a character is a writer as I think it's funny to hear authors describe their professions.)

This is another of those romances that didn't work for me because everything was too easy. Sure, Grayson had to overcome a deeply personal fear to make a change in his life but there wasn't one single moment when I didn't think he would. Also, Grayson is one of those mega-successful authors with money coming out of his ears* so Brianna, who has to scrimp and save for every improvement, gets insta-cash cuz he's around. I'm certainly happy for her but, again, too easy.

There's really nothing particularly wrong with the story, or the protags who are both decent and likable, it's just that I never had any sort of investment in it. I could have put it down at any time and not once worried about what happened to anyone. What I ended up enjoying the most was Grayson interacting with people when they mentioned his work (actually Grayson is a pretty funny guy so he often had lines that made me giggle). To me this is a bad sign. It's a romance, shouldn't my favorite conversations include the protags? I mean, at least some of the time? So anyway, this one does not get a huge recommendation from me and it wouldn't surprise me if I never read another Roberts. However, I will exit with a quote from some random guy to Grayson about his novels:

"I'll have to get it out of the way and tell you I'm a big fan."
"It's never in the way."

Awe. Some! No kidding, it's never in the way! In fact, it's paving the way to my bank account. :)

rating: 3 of 5 stars
(a rating of 3 really is the least informative isn't it?)

**I've always wondered at the possible similarities in horse racing success and author success. There's something like 37,000 thoroughbreds registered every year (in North America) and less than 5% of them end up making the big bucks. Percentages go up a little if you're talking just breaking even but the mega-bucks are hard to come by.


  1. Although I like that trilogy, Brianna kind of irritates me -- she so perfect and martyrish. I like Born in Fire best of the three, although its conflict is very similar to that of Born in Ice: Maggie's resistance to commitment as a function of their miserable childhood and their parents' unhappy marriage.

  2. It's funny you should mention the annoyingness of Brianna as that sort of thing usu drives me nuts but for some reason I wasn't bothered by her at all. Odd.

  3. I've never read a NR,either, despite universal praise and the fact that I've quite liked her online persona when I've come across her blog comments in various places. Why? not really sure,but I suspect it's a combo of:
    - she really, really doesn't need me
    - not enthralled with the titles/blurbs I've come across
    - won't start a series that has more than 2, tops 3 books in it and the in death one is a few dozen so far, I think

  4. "she really, really doesn't need me"


    When I finally gave up on Bill Bryson and Stephen King I thought the same thing. They are doing ok, they are not going to miss me. :)

    (should say have actually enjoyed a few things by King but have universally disliked Bryson's work)