I discovered another Nora Roberts gem that I’d missed along the way and “Carnal Innocence” was published as recently as 2009. While it does have a romantic interest, that’s where the resemblance to a romance novel ends.
This is a complex tale of the seemingly lazy, even idyllic life in a small southern town that, in reality, doesn’t come close to being peaceful or contented after the brutal murders of several young women. The mystery and intrigue are spellbinding and the plot is rife with the complexities of the characters, especially the Longstreet family. They’re almost like royalty in the town of Innocence, especially since they own so many of the properties and businesses. The Longstreet family has been reduced to the three surviving adult children; Josie, Tucker and Dwayne.
A fourth character in this drama is Caroline, a world renown concert violinist who has taken refuge for the summer in what was her grandmother’s home. She is mentally and physically exhausted from the grueling demands of her too tightly scheduled life and she also needs an escape hatch to nurse a wounded heart caused by a cheating fiancé. When she meets Tucker she immediately recognizes the signs of a womanizer. Tucker is indeed interested in getting Caroline into his bed but sometimes the heart has different ideas. We can’t always choose who we’ll fall in love with.
This is a tantalizing tale of intrigue, small town drama, and enough twists in the mystery to keep the reader invested and guessing whodunnit. Roberts skill with the written word is no secret but this novel is, in my humble opinion, one of her best works in recent years. Her writing here is more exciting and at times even leaning towards poetic, whereas her most recent publications exhibit a very clipped, almost terse style of dialogue. Call me old-fashioned but I much prefer this writing style to the more recent. I welcome other reader’s comments on the subject. You won’t hurt my feelings if you have a different opinion so, no worries there.
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