“Naomi Bowes lost her innocence the night she followed her father into the woods. In freeing the girl trapped in the root cellar, Naomi revealed the horrible extent of her father’s crimes and made him infamous. No matter how close she gets to happiness, she can’t outrun the sins of Thomas David Bowes.
Now a successful photographer living under the name Naomi Carson, she has found a place that calls to her, a rambling old house in need of repair, thousands of miles away from everything she’s ever known. Naomi wants to embrace the solitude, but the kindly residents of Sunrise Cove keep forcing her to open up—especially the determined Xander Keaton.
Naomi can feel her defenses failing, and knows that the connection her new life offers is something she’s always secretly craved. But the sins of her father can become an obsession, and, as she’s learned time and again, her past is never more than a nightmare away.”
My Thoughts: I know I have a strong bias for Nora Roberts. (Nora, not Nora as J.D. Robb. She writes enough novels as Nora that I do not need to add her Robb canon to my list.) Bias may not be the right word. Obsession is more like it. Nora is the only author whose books I will buy without even looking at the synopsis. If I hear she is publishing a new book, I immediately preorder it. Even though some are better than others, I have never been let down by any of her novels. I have my favorites, as does anyone with a favorite author, but I could read any one of her novels over and over again without getting bored. Her descriptions of places and things are a thing of perfection, and her suspense (and romance) never fails to leave me breathless. However, it is in her portrayal of people and animals and their relationships, especially dogs, where she really melts my butter.
The Obsession has everything I love about Nora’s novels and nothing that I do not. It has stunning scenery, a woman who is a bit lost but still fiercely independent, relationships built not only on mutual attraction but respect, danger and darkness, witty but natural dialogue and a dog. Oh, that dog. Forget Xander; I am in love with the dog. Nora knows her dogs, and it shows in everything she writes about Tag. There are passages within the novel specifically about the dog that not only made me laugh out loud but required me to read them aloud to my husband because they captured the goofiness of dogs so perfectly. Cats are lovely animals, and I know they make great pets. However, as Nora knows and shows with Tag, there is nothing quite like the unabashed joy and unashamed unconditional love that a dog has and brings to any home.
As always, Nora never skimps on details as she sets the stage and creates her character. Naomi is a photographer, a successful one, and you could view the number of pages devoted to light and focus and perspective as a daunting task to overcome. In true Nora fashion though, she makes it entertaining as well as educational. It is almost spellbinding to see how Naomi will imagine a photo and use various techniques to bring that image to light. Naomi is also in the middle of major renovations, which means description upon description of designs and materials and furniture and other home construction goodies. As with the photography, you could easily get bored with the many renovation discussions. However, I see it as insight into worlds I have never considered entering. I am not a photographer and never will be, yet through the bits and pieces I have learned from Naomi, I will have a new approach to certain pictures I take. The same goes for renovations. I can now appreciate the fine details that go into building and customizing a home, for it is the details which show an owner’s individuality and a home has to show its owner’s quirks. Some may find it boring, but I find Naomi’s focus on her profession and on her home to be endearing and part of her charm.
As for the mystery, it could be a bit better. I actually figured it out, which is never a good thing. That being said, I did not figure it out until the latter half of the book. More importantly, I do not mind that I had figured it out. I am okay with knowing whodunnit because I was too busy enjoying Naomi and Xander and Tag. They are the kind of characters with whom you instinctively feel comfort and camaraderie, and watching their courtship is a delight. The mystery throws an added layer to their story, and the whodunnit is less important than how they handle that knowledge themselves. That they do so with courage and realism makes me comfortable knowing so far in advance.
There are many who would consider Nora a guilty pleasure. I will never consider Nora a guilty pleasure. Her books are pure pleasure for me and always make me feel better. They are the chocolate and the peanut butter, the rainbow on a sunny day, the ice cream in a root beet float. I consider The Obsession to be one of her strongest novels in the last few years and immediately wanted to read it again upon finishing because I enjoyed everything about it. Plus, Tag and the Pants of Humiliation will forever hold a special place in my heart.