Desert Isle Keeper
If you’re like me, you’ve been counting the days until you can snag a copy of Judgment in Death. Every time you’re anywhere near a book section, your heartbeat picks up a little bit, hoping against hope (and publishers lay down dates) that Eve and Roarke will be there. As of right now, they’re not. Don’t despair. While you’re in that book section, you can pick up a copy of Night Shield to tide you over.
Night Shield is a continuation of the Night Tales series and features a female detective and a wealthy night club owner, one who grew up on the streets and doesn’t like cops. Sound familiar? Even the descriptions of these two characters, Ally and Jonah, are similar to Eve and Roarke. Ally is a long-legged blonde with whiskey colored eyes, and Jonah has raven-black hair and pale green eyes, which are a legacy from his Irish great-grandmother. As I was reading the set-up and descriptions of Ally and Jonah, I knew there would be comparisons made. But I was pleased to discover that Night Shield proves to be a good story that doesn’t just replay the same kind of relationship.
As the lead investigator in a string of burglaries, Allison Fletcher asks to be placed undercover at a local nightclub. Blackhawk’s is the common denominator in the burglaries and this forces Jonah Blackhawk to cooperate with the police, a fate almost worse then death as far as he’s concerned. Jonah grew up on the streets, and has had few good experiences with authority figures. The one exception is Boyd Fletcher (from the first in this series, Night Shift), who is the current police commissioner and, as you can probably guess, Allison’s dad. When Boyd asks Jonah for his assistance, Jonah agrees, despite some misgivings, to allow Ally to work at the club as a waitress.
Part of Jonah’s problem is the instant attraction he feels for Ally. He respects and loves Boyd, but he’s always kept his distance from Boyd’s family. Here’s where Nora Roberts’ strengths are evident. Jonah doesn’t feel like he’s worthy of being included in the Fletcher family and has never allowed Boyd to draw him in, but Roberts doesn’t let this dominate the book. We’re not treated to endless angst about how Jonah’s not good enough for Ally. Instead, because Ally is confident and used to being loved, Jonah isn’t given a chance to dwell in his fears. Ally lets him know that she doesn’t have any worries on the subject, and she makes it clear that if they’re going to have any kind of relationship, then he needs to let those fears go.
I do think the time Ms. Roberts has spent on the In Death books is apparent here. She’s fine-tuned her ability to incorporate a mystery into the love story. It’s not clunky, nor written merely to create dramatic tension. The investigation serves as more than a backdrop. Everything that occurs plays into the relationship and the relationship works into the events. When Ally’s apartment is ransacked and vandalized, it’s not just a plot point that will allow Jonah to act protective. It forces a change in their relationship while furthering the investigation.
Ms. Roberts has succeeded on another level as well. There’s only so much space in a series romance, and I’m grateful that the author didn’t overwhelm me with information about earlier hero/heroine pairs. Often when an author continues a series with the next generation, the appearance of other family members is uneven and clunky. Not so here. Allison’s parents, Boyd and Cilla, show up at appropriate moments and fill in some of the backstory attached to both Ally and Jonah. There’s also a family event that includes some of the other stars of earlier books, but again, it’s not overdone. They appear, we get to see a couple of their interactions, then they retreat. It’s nicely done.
My only complaint about the book is that I wish it had been longer. I think I’ve been spoiled by the depth of characterization that’s possible in the other books this author writes, but because of the compactness of the story, I wasn’t able to get quite as strongly involved with any of these characters.
Nora Roberts is one of those authors you can usually count on for a good read. She doesn’t disappoint with Night Shield. If you’ve not read the earlier Night Tales, just reissued into one trade-size paperback, you can pick them up, but I’ll tell you that this one is self-contained and doesn’t rely on any of the others to make the story. And if you’re a fan of Eve and Roarke, you’ll probably be glad of this one to keep you going until Judgment.