Tribute by Nora Roberts

This is another book that was talked about on Dear Bitches, Smart Authors, and I was hooked by the idea of a nerdy beta male graphic novel artist as the hero. I finished it in basically two sittings. Also, while I’m a major ebook reader, I do enjoy kicking it with a real book once in awhile. This marks the first standalone book I’ve ever read by Nora Roberts

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One-Sentence Synopsis
A former child actress renovates an old house as a tribute to her Hollywood star grandmother and starts a relationship with the graphic novel writer across the street, but things turn sinister when someone starts harassing her, presumably over long held family secrets. For a full synopsis, visit this book’s Goodreads page.

Tribute
The Good Stuff
One of the best things about this novel, for me, was the geek factor. Ford, the hero, is a bit geeky and he owns it. Also, there are little nerdy tidbits throughout the book, including references to Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek (his dog’s name is Spock), and a few superheroes. There’s one scene where Ford and Cilla are playing video games and they’re playing Marvel Ultimate Alliance and I completely geeked out over it (that is one of my top games).

The other thing I really liked was the development of Cilla. She starts out as a pretty tough alpha female with some major DIY skills, but as the reader gets to know her, her vulnerability and fears start to show and it really develops her as a character. My feelings on Ford were mixed, but in the end, he turned out to be a good and supportive guy for Cilla.

Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
Though I ended up liking him, I actually found Ford to be a little creepy in the first part of the book. I wanted him to be shy nerdy, but he was actually very straightforward, and some of the things he said to Cilla made him seem a little creepy to me. By the end of the book, though, I thought maybe he was supposed to be slightly Asperger’s (which may have been discussed in the podcast, but I’m not sure…bad short term memory), which would account for his logical and straightforward nature.
Spock
The main thing about the plot that I found weird was that Cilla is being blatantly threatened, and yet she doesn’t put any cameras up, nor does she seem to have second thoughts about doing things on her own. I get that she was supposed to be a strong, independent woman (when she wasn’t sad and vulnerable, of course), but damn…I’d like to think that I’m independent, and you can bet if someone was leaving mutilated dolls around my house I wouldn’t be staying there alone. It felt like the danger she was in was glossed over until something happened, and I wanted her to take the situation more seriously.

Also, except for the antagonists, every single side character in this story was super nice and understanding. I believe this was meant to highlight the fact that Cilla had found a place she could call home with people she could trust and who would support her, but there were a few moments that went a little Stepford Wives. At one point, I thought that there was no way that those people could be real, though I may have been feeling a little cynical for various reasons.
Finn Hug
The Romance Factor
Though Ford was sweet and Cilla was superwoman (even with her refusal to play it safe and keep a friend around), I never got the heart feels with these two. They had a quiet chemistry with only a dash of angst. In general, I want the stuff that makes me ache for the characters, and I never got that here. However, I’m still giving this a 3/5 on the Romance Factor scale because Roberts did a good job of developing their interaction and working towards their happily ever after.

The Steam Factor
I won’t say the story was overly steamy. There were only a few sex scenes, none of which were super detailed. However, the first time Cilla and Ford are together is written very sensually and packed just as strong a punch as a scene written in full detail. Sometimes that sensuality is perfect for its story, and this was a good example. I don’t think graphic sex scenes fit these characters, and so I’m giving this a 3/5 on the Steam Factor, but a 5/5 on the “Way to Write to Your Characters” scale. Which I just made up. Because I can.
Just a Tribute
Final Thoughts
I’m not sure if I’m sold on Roberts’ standalone books because while I enjoyed the story, I found it long and detailed and definitely more of a mystery than a romance. I prefer the trilogies because I like the different characters, and I like getting bite sized glimpses into everyone’s life, not just meal sized viewing sessions of a few characters. Sadly, I think I’m biased because this is Nora and I’ve loved her trilogies and I might not have the same opinion of another author’s long works. But, should the right storyline catch my eye, I definitely won’t say no to trying another one.
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