Sunday, November 20, 2011

Audio Review: The Next Always

The Next Always
Nora Roberts
Contemporary Romance
With Paranormal Elements
Inn Boonsboro Trilogy/Book 1
Brilliance Audio/November 1, 2011


From the Inside Cover ~

The historic hotel in BoonsBoro has endured war and peace, changing hands, even rumored hauntings. Now it’s getting a major facelift from the Montgomery brothers and their eccentric mother. As the architect of the family, Beckett’s social life consists mostly of talking shop over pizza and beer. But there’s another project he’s got his eye on: the girl he’s been waiting to kiss since he was sixteen.

After losing her husband and returning to her hometown, Clare Brewster soon settles into her life as the mother of three young sons while running the town's bookstore. Though busy and with little time for romance, Clare is drawn across the street by Beckett's transformation of the old inn, wanting to take a closer both the building and the man behind it.

With the grand opening inching closer, Beckett is happy to give Clare a private tour - one room at a time, in between blueprint meetings and kindergarten pickups. It's no first date, bu these stolen moments are the beginning of something that could arouse the secret yearning that resides in Clare's independent heart - and open the door to the extraordinary adventure of what comes next...

After reading and loving Ms. Roberta' Bride Quartet, I was looking forward to her newest contemporary series. I'm not sure if it's because the Bride Quartet's main focus was on the four women or if the setting of the was more enjoyable, probably a combination of the two. Either way, I didn't enjoy the trip to Boonsboro nearly as much as I thought I would.

All the talk around town is about the Montgomery brothers and the restoration of the famous inn. It's the inn and it's restoration that is a major focus of of the story. There is a romance between Beckett and Clare but it didn't feel like the central focus of the story. It was more of the restoration, the town and it's characters revolved around the romance. It is understandable that Clare and Beckett don't have an abundance of alone time. Clare has three boys to raise on her own and Beckett is busy with the inn. I liked both characters as well as the secondary characters but felt the inn and the town took too much time away from the romance.

The are two sub-plots running through the story. The first, which didn't work for me, was that of a stalker. It felt very much out of place in this closeknit community. I could see if there was another man competing for Clare's attention but creepy stalker dude just didn't fit in with the idyllic portrait of Boonsboro. He felt like he was transplanted from another book, say a J.D. Robb novel.

The other out-of-place character was that of the resident ghost at Inn Boonsboro. Beckett developed a relationship with the ghost right along with his relationship with Clare. Had the ghost been corporeal, maybe Clare would have had some competition. LOL The ghost angle didn't bother me but the way Becket talked to her did feel odd. He just didn't come across as a guy who would carry on conversations with a ghost.

I did like the time that Beckett and Clare spent together. Clare's boys are her life and the way Beckett becomes a part of that life felt very real. It wasn't easy getting all three boys to accept him without questioning what his place was in their lives. Beckett had to work for it, as it should be. We also see the relationship Beckett has with his two brothers, Ryder and Owen. It's evident they are the other heroes in this trilogy and we also meet their heroines. I liked the three brothers with their joking, teasing and obvious love for each other. Not sure how I feel about the pairings but we'll have to see.

The Next Always was a pleasant listen. While I didn't end up crazy in love with it, I did enjoy parts of it and will return to Boonsboro for the next Montgomery brother's story.

Rating: B-

Inn Boonsboro Series

The Next Always
The Last Boyfriend (May 2012)
The Perfect Hope (November 2012)


  1. I thought the hints about the pairings for the next books was pretty subtle. I mean, would it have not been Hope awed by Ryder the first time she met him, I think it could have gone either way Owen-Avery/Owen-Hope/Ryder-Avery/Ryder-Hope. However, after I read the blurb of The Last Boyfriend, I think Owen-Avery is going to work for me :)

    LOL, I was going to ask you on my blog what would be your grade. B- is not bad at all :)

    Perhaps the ghost aspect wasn't that necessary, but I think it lightens things up and adds some whimsy. And you don't think Beckett would be the genre to talk to a ghost? I think I disagree on that. It seems to me Beckett is the most easy-going out of the three, the one that's most likely to run with things. He would :)

  2. Hey Les! Great review. This was a cute book, right? I'm looking forward to The Last Boyfriend. I really liked Avery in this book and Owen sounds quite interesting too.

  3. It seems opinions on this book are unanimous. It's nice... but not spectacular. I'll still read it from the library. :)