Grade : C+

I was tired of being looked at like I had three heads whenever I told people I've never read Nora Roberts, so when Homeport came in, I volunteered to read it. After years of hearing Roberts hailed as a goddess, I expected to completely lose myself in the book.

It took longer than I expected, but I finally got past the cast of thousands and all the head-hopping and finally managed to enjoy the story. I used to read a lot of Sydney Sheldon as a teenager and am still a sucker for a sexy "whodunit." Thanks to my addiction to Medical Dectives on The Learning Channel, I spotted something not quite right with the plot and realized who the killer was before Roberts threw the readers a clue so blunt it hit like a slap across the face.

The heroine of Homeport is Miranda Jones, an expert in Renaissance art. She's cool and in control, but turns into a pile of goo the moment she meets the suave and sexy Ryan Boldari. Ryan's a wealthy gallery owner - and an art thief. He's got his sights set on a piece from Miranda's gallery. The instant attraction didn't bother me. But the fact that Miranda became an idiot around Ryan did. I didn't believe that a woman like her would allow her restraint to slip like that.

Miranda's also got someone after her - someone willing to ruin her completely. When her professional judgement is called into question, Miranda has no way to prove her innocence, until Ryan appears in her bedroom one night demanding that she work with him. What follows is one big intriguing mystery with a lunatic pulling the strings. Of course, Miranda makes a mistake that gets someone killed and Ryan tears a strip off her for it. Little attention is paid to the fact that if she hadn't acted as she had, it might have been she and Ryan who were killed.

Along the way, surrounded by Miranda's bitterly cold parents, alcoholic brother, business associates, Ryan's family, and a sharp police detective, Miranda and Ryan fall in love. Of course, they're never really quite sure just how far they can trust one another. And while Miranda learns to be comfortable and happy within her own skin, it is Ryan who makes the most sacrifices by the end of the book. Rightfully so, I thought. After all, no one was trying to kill him.

The blossoming relationship between Miranda and Ryan isn't the focal point of the book, but it blends with the mystery. It naturally progresses as the intrigue does, so that both become dependent on each other. Once I got passed the mushy stage, I began to see what Miranda saw in Ryan and vice versa. Sometimes Roberts would throw in a little bit of humor with their relationship. When it didn't work, it was jarring, but when it did, I laughed out loud. And when the two of them finally gave into the attraction between them, the intensity of it was presented perfectly with a minimum of details.

The cast of thousands started out as a real nuisance as well, but as the story progressed and I began to feel for the characters, I enjoyed the chance to peek inside their brains. I would have preferred if Roberts had only done this with the main characters, though. I really didn't need to know what everyone in the book was thinking.

After reading Homeport, I began to wonder what all the fuss over Roberts is about. Then a friend and die-hard Roberts' fan told me this one isn't her best and that I should try some of her older stuff. I think I will - after all, doesn't a goddess deserves as second chance?

Reviewed by Kate Smith
Grade : C+

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : June 19, 1999

Publication Date: 1999

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