Sometimes I think her early books show her great work from a perspective her current work is sometimes missing. This one is fantastic entertainment with magnificent use of language and style. If you are a fan of the author, this one is definitely a must-read.

by Nora Roberts
Publisher Berkley on July 3, 2007
Genre Contemporary Romance
Pages 448
Format Paperback
Source Library

Photographer Jo Ellen Hathaway thought she'd escaped the house called Sanctuary long ago. She'd spent her loneliest years there, after the sudden, unexplained disappearance of her mother. Yet the sprawling inn on an island off the Georgia coast continues to haunt her dreams. And now, even more, haunting are the pictures someone is sending her: strange close-ups and candids, culminating in the most shocking portrait of all - a photo of her mother - naked, beautiful, and dead. Now Jo must return to the island, and to her bitterly estranged family. With the help of Nathan Delaney - who was on the island the summer her mother disappeared - Jo hopes to learn the truth about the tragic past. But Sanctuary may be the most dangerous place of all.
Close to madness, the young photographer Jo Hathaway seeks refuge in her Sanctuary home on the island of Desire, where she grew up. It's been years since she last set foot on the island, and her success and fame as a photographer now almost make her an outcast on the island. At least with part of her family. The father practically lives in his own world and is more outdoors in nature than in the house, which has now become a well-running hotel. Her sister Alexa is more than jealous of the big sister's success and shows this all too clearly at every suitable and unsuitable opportunity. And her big brother Brian is, as always, a stubborn and more than headstrong head who doesn't exactly welcome her with open arms. If it weren't for her aunt Kate, the good soul of the house, Jo would literally go up the walls. It also doesn't help her that she meets the architect Nathan and has to discover with horror that she is well on the way to falling in love with him. She, who thinks absolutely nothing of unplanned things like feelings unless she can capture them with her camera and bring them to light in the darkroom on prints. But when her best friend Ginny disappears after a beach party and does not appear again, the idyllic world on Desire begins to show cracks and the disappearance of a camping guest then tears the deceptive idyll apart completely. Long-standing conflicts erupt with force, making life hell for the Hathaway family.

With this story, Nora Roberts has written a criminological romance, powerfully eloquent and extremely soulful, combining tension, passion, conflict, and an idyllic island setting so skillfully that it is an absolute pleasure to read the book. Divided into three parts, the author leads the reader and the characters step by step through the plot and towards the mighty ending. When the forces of nature in the form of a brutal storm called Carla dragged across the island at wind speed three, I could almost hear the roar of the wind, the cracking when a branch broke through a window or the shattering of glass, so vividly and graphically has Nora Roberts described these things. With a dash of humor, one is nevertheless always aware of the seriousness of the situation in which the characters find themselves during this action.

Nora Roberts did not give her characters a simple past in this novel. Nathan is grappling with a gruesome discovery that makes him doubt whether he could strike in exactly the same direction, and the remaining members of the Hathaway family have struggled, each in his own way, with the sudden disappearance of their mother for twenty years. The conflicts that arise from it and the new ones that are preprogrammed are presented so classically and realistically that it was a pleasure to witness them as a reader, even if they are anything but funny for the characters themselves. The scraps flew, words were thrown into the room with great destructive power, no one really talked to the other, and the only one who kept a perspective and saw behind the facade was Kate, the aunt of Brian, Jo, and Alexa. Something is not right at all with this mother's disappearance without a trace, as the reader realizes at the latest when Nathan struggles with his inner torments more and more and asks himself more and more often when the best time is to tell the family.

An incredibly compelling story like only one can: Nora Roberts. Once you have started this book, you don't put it down so quickly. Unless you've read it through. Great feelings with a dash of thriller make for fantastic reading pleasure.

Happy reading

Nora Roberts
Nora Roberts ©Bruce Wilder

Nora Roberts born in Silver Spring, Maryland, is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than 200 novels. During the now-famous blizzard, she pulled out a pencil and notebook and began to write. It was there that a career was born. Several manuscripts and rejections later, her first book, Irish Thoroughbred, was published by Silhouette in 1981. 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.” She is also the author of the bestselling futuristic suspense series written under the pen name J. D. Robb. There are more than 500 million copies of her books in print.


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