“Legacy” – The Age-old Argument of Nature vs Nurture

At the tender age of seven, Adrian Rizzo had the misfortune of meeting her father for the first and last time as he failed in an attempt to kill her and died in the process. But her mother Lina Rizzo, the famous fitness guru, was determined not to have that ugly incident define Adrian’s life. So she packed her up and shipped her off to her grandparents in Maryland where Lina had never wanted to live. It proved to be an idyllic summer for Adrian that also had a lasting effect on the path her life would take.

Fast forward ten years and Adrian takes charge of her life just prior to graduation, forming her own company to produce fitness workouts in DVD format targeting the teen market that has been all but ignored by the fitness industry. Adrian butts heads with Lina over creative control and marketing of her own brand but Adrian prevails and succeeds in her quest for independence. While mother and daughter are not exactly cordial, they are civil to each other.

Innate or Learned or Both?

As Adrian’s fitness line gains recognition and popularity she is also noticed by an obviously deranged person who sends her vaguely threatening poems. What begins as an annual occurrence eventually escalates in frequency and intensity and the missives are always postmarked from a different state.  The question is, who wants to kill her? And why?

The legacy theme is not isolated or limited to defining the bad guy or girl who is threatening Adrian. The mother/daughter relationship between Lina and Adrian is the heart of “Legacy” and all it encompasses. Especially how that relationship, or lack thereof, has shaped Adrian in her formative years. Is she single-mindedly focused and driven because underneath she’s more like Lina than she wants to admit or is she strong and independent because she had to be to survive being dragged from pillar to post, from one assignment to another? Hotel rooms eventually all look alike, pleasantly decorated but devoid of any personality. Not exactly child abuse but also nothing remotely resembling a “normal” childhood. Poor little rich girl? Maybe.

Vintage Nora Roberts is sweetly romantic whereas modern Roberts writing is powerful and riveting in its intensity. Her latest standalone novel, “Legacy” is all that and more – tightly written in the smart and snappy style that she is known for. At 435 pages “Legacy” is not a quick read but why would you want to rush through it? Instead, savor the dialogue and descriptive phrasing such as this:

A new poem arrived on a sizzling August day with a sky the color of old plaster.”

What a lovely visual juxtaposed with Adrian’s feeling of impending disaster as she reads the sinister poem. That’s only one example of Roberts’ masterful techniques of storytelling.

I can’t fail to mention the romantic side of “Legacy” since romance is a Roberts trademark. Waylon is a hugely successful graphic novel artist/developer and now a single father of two after losing the love of his life to a lone gunman in a school shooting spree. Nearly two years of soul-crushing grief later, he is trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy for his children when he notices Adrian and uses her image as inspiration for a new strong woman fantasy character who rides a fire-breathing dragon. Adrian is already a follower of his graphic novels and knows all the characters and storylines – kinda’ like a Vulcan mind-meld. Romantics can take heart that they haven’t been short-changed. They’ve been served a fresher, tastier dish of romance created for an adult palate without all the sugary-sweet kidstuff. I think they’ll relish the menu change. I know I did. Five stars.

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