Book 15*: Vision in White, Nora Roberts

15May09

Reading a Nora Robert novel is like eating a piece of cake. It can be whatever cake you want, but pretty much every book she releases is that same type of cake. The woman is a machine—she writes eight hours a day, five days a week. As a result, she publishes umpteen books a year. There’s usually a trilogy or a quadrilogy, interwoven romances between friends or family members or something along those lines (one will be released every six to eight months). There will be at least two books in the “In Death” series. There are usually at least a couple of new hardback novels that fall somewhere between the silly little trilogies and the In Death books.

The formula only varies marginally from book to book. But the woman has her formula down, and it’s a pretty basic one as well. It’s one that many of us want in our own lives—boy and girl meet. Boy and girl spark. Boy and girl have mind-blowing sex featuring near-simultaneous orgasms. Boy or girl admits passionate love for other and usually desire for marriage, family, etc. Opposite member cannot proclaim return love (even though they secretly feel it) due to own hang-ups. Problem arises, boy and girl fight. Boy or girl talk over problem, generally like adults who are not afraid to talk of such things. More sex. Boy or girl with hang-up realizes that opposite member is really, truly The One for them, and admits love and equal desire for marriage, family etc.

They proceed to live happily ever after, because the formula always ends with happily ever after.

I can’t fault the woman her work ethic or her formula. It clearly works for her; she’s one of the most popular writers on the planet. And she’s good with dialogue. And although the characters do tend to blur together after a while, she’s pretty good with them as well. The women are generally pretty strong and self-sufficient. They have lives, careers, friends, family. Most of them aren’t on the prowl for a husband; many of them want nothing to do with that sort of thing—until they stumble across Mr. Right And Awesome In Bed To Boot, that is.

If you’ve read any of her books, you know what I’m talking about. And if you don’t, you can probably imagine. They’re fluffy, cakey, gooey romance novels. I think what I’ve always liked about them is her attempts to give the reader a little bit more than the turgid sex scenes—not that there aren’t a few of them per book. Not being much of a romance novel reader outside of the odd Nora book, I can’t really give you any comparison, although I imagine they’re likely better written then your average Harlequin.

Anyway. This particular novel, the first in a quartet about four women who run an all-inclusive wedding planning business in Connecticut called “Vows”, revolves around Mackensie, though we are, of course, introduced to the other three women as well, and also to the men that two of them will end up with. That’s the way it works. Small world, oh my god!

Mackensie is the photographer of the group. She has issues with commitment due to her absentee, careless father and her right selfish bitch of a mother. She meets Carter when he comes out to a meeting to support his sister, who is having the company plan her wedding. He accidentally walks into a wall in front of Mac. Pretty classic meet cute. He’s cute and clumsy and had a crush on her in high school. You know the rest.

I read a lot fewer Nora Roberts novels than I used to. I don’t know if I quite believe in the formula anymore. Yes, I’m cynical and possibly even bitter. I’ve started to wander down the path of wondering what the hell is wrong with me, and I don’t want to take gooey romance novels with me on that.

Did I enjoy the cake? Sure did, and might even pick up the other novels as they’re released. But I found myself wishing I’d had a nice steak dinner beforehand.

*Book 14 was Good Omens. I haven’t written the review yet.

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