With Darby trying to find a new start in Lakeview and Zane moving back to the town there is some inevitable digging up of their pasts. With terrible memories following them to the tiny North Carolina town can either of them move onto their new projects with ease?
A massive thank you to Tandem Collective and Nora Roberts for allowing and arranging this readalong! I love taking part in the Tandem readalongs and this didn't disappoint! Immediately we are thrown into the action of Zane's past and within a few chapters I was tearing up, just for warning there is some serious abuse triggers in the first part of the book and the themes underpin the whole narrative. Roberts perfectly sets the scene for Zane's childhood by using eerie imagery and dark tones, she creates an atmosphere so tense that I was struggling to calm myself down in the anticipation of the next pages. Whilst I did love the first part and the character building it gives for both Zane and Britt, plus the relationship developed with their aunt, I did struggle to get a sense of realism in the conclusion of Britt's story (spoiler: she escapes from a hospital ward with no one seeing or suspecting anything, including her dad who has locked her into the room).
Darby's entrance was one of the best character introductions I've ever read, she was so well-written that she felt real and as if I knew her. In today's age it is exhausting to see women written into small and unimportant roles only to be rescued by their male counterpart but Darby really took lead and made a life for herself with the slow-burn romance being a side-note to her growth. Speaking of slow-burn romances, whilst I do not usually like I did thoroughly approve of this one. Darby and Zane were both so troubled and Roberts' ability to create that chemistry between them but put the focus on their own development first was so refreshing to read. My only contention about the either character was that there way too much narrative surrounding foliage and fauna when it came to Darby, I'd have liked to see more interesting aspects to her personality.
One of the main story lines is Zane's involvement in the downfall of his once well-respected father and we know from early on in Part 2 that he is due to be released from prison and Zane is anticipating his next move. With the novel having such a build-up to this I was expecting a lot more action and drama but it was all over within a couple of pages and I was disappointed. Whilst the snippets of Graham and Eliza's life outside of prison were a nice detour from the main story I don't think their narrative got as much attention as it deserved.
This was my first Nora Roberts novel and you can trust me when I say I have added a lot more to my wishlist now. I loved her use of imagery and setting to create a world surrounding the characters, of which are beautifully portrayed. The tension in this really did leap out of the page at me and I couldn't put this down even when I needed to sleep. The negative aspects I found were strongly outweighed by the positive and I definitely look forward to re-reading this!