Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Skin Deep by Nora Roberts

I’ve recently been rereading Skin Deep by Nora Roberts. I should probably tell everyone up front that she is my favorite author, and Skin Deep is, I believe, the first of her books I encountered. Its copyright date in my current copy is 1988 (This is my second copy of the book. The first one, used when I got it, has long since disintegrated from time and use.)

I read the story for the first time years ago and remembered the tale, but not the title or author. So when I found the book in a paper grocery bag full of romance novels several years later, I didn’t realize till several pages in that I knew the story. I not only reread the book, but kept it. (The women in my family passed around romances by the bag load for years as we have been prodigious readers for generations.)

It was probably around that time I started looking for Nora’s books. She’s written about a gazillion stories, and I currently have copies of most of them. Surprisingly, I’ve enjoyed them all, some more than others, naturally. But, not a dog in the lot. How the heck does she do it? How does she draw me in, make me care about and believe in her characters? And, how does she keep from getting stale and monotonously formulaic. I mean really, how many ways can boy meet girl after all? At least a gazillion, apparently.

Not that there is no formula behind many of Nora’s books. In Skin Deep, Chantel O’Hurley, a Hollywood star finds herself being stalked. Like so many of Nora’s female characters, Chantel is strong-willed, self-reliant and knows her own mind. Her manager introduces her to an old friend and security expert, Quinn. And, like so many of Nora’s heroes, Quinn is strong, reliable and sensitive. The sparks fly in instant dislike and distrust between the two. As the story progresses, tension increases with the danger of the stalker and the attraction between the two main characters. The story culminates with the stalker attempting to kill Chantel and the day being saved by Quinn. At which point they agree to marry and live happily ever after.

A lot of Nora Robert’s stories follow similar patterns, but each manages to be unique. The characters are well rounded and believable. The locations are varied but each is brought to life with vivid descriptions. Nora has an ability to convey ideas succinctly, impressions strongly. Each sentence packs a punch. Her stories waste no time on extra words, ideas or characters, but each is packed full of texture and color. Skin Deep is no exception.

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