Summary: The historic hotel in BoonsBoro, Maryland, has endured war and peace, changing hands, even rumored hauntings. Now it's getting a major facelift from the Montgomery brothers and their eccentric mother. As the architect of the family, Beckett's social life consists mostly of talking shop over pizza and beer. But there's another project he's got his eye on: the girl he's been waiting to kiss since he was fifteen... – Goodreads
My thoughts: Nora Roberts does a stellar job depicting the idyllic town of BoonsBoro, Maryland. No big surprise there – Roberts is the town's most prominent resident. In The Next Always, Roberts hands over management of her inn to the Montgomerys, a trio of brothers each responsible for part of the inn's reconstruction. The first book in the series stars Beckett Montgomery and Clare Murphy Brewster, the girl that got away. Clare is now a widow with three sons, and she owns and manages the town bookstore (in reality, BoonsBoro's bookstore is owned by Nora Roberts' husband).
With Clare and Beckett, Roberts creates a sweet romance that offers a second chance for both of them. I especially liked that Clare's boys are an important part of the story – in order to win over Clare, Beckett has to win over her sons too. Though their attraction is present from the beginning, their lasting romance takes time to develop. Roberts doesn't rush the plot, and it moves along at a pace that allows her to include both a suspense subplot and a paranormal subplot. Seriously, only Nora Roberts could write a book like that and actually make it work.
The setting is a bit cutesy, yes, and the architectural/construction details might not interest everyone, but The Next Always is representative of what Roberts does so well. She also manages to set up the rest of the series without forcing too much information down readers' throats. If you're someone who hates to wait for sequels, book two of The Inn BoonsBoro trilogy, The Last Boyfriend, was published in May and The Perfect Hope will arrive in November. Note: I tried this one on audio first and couldn't get through it. It worked much better in print, and I recommend you choose that version.
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Publication Date: November 1, 2011
Length: 384 pages