3 stars (out of 5)
Put my feet to the fire and I'd consider giving this one 3-12 stars, but for now, 3's my story and I'm stickin' to it. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it - every time I had to put it down for a while I looked forward to opening it up again, at least sort of. But from the git-go, it just didn't grab me the way a thriller should (especially one from the usually talented author Nora Roberts, whose books I've enjoyed in the past).
My lack of interest mostly centered on the characters -- starting with Boston lawyer Eli Landon, who's been convicted in the minds of many of murdering his wife even though he was never charged. In semi-disgrace, he returns to Bluff House, his family's home on Whiskey Island. There, he meets the offbeat Abra, who left a life in the corporate world and personal trauma behind to "find herself" on the island (of course, they quickly become an item). Thereafter, another murder happens and Eli becomes a suspect once again - and continues to be hounded by a Boston detective who's convinced Eli is twice guilty is bound and determined to prove it.
Problem is, not one of these characters is particularly credible, or even very likeable. Any detective who harassed private citizens to the extent this one did wouldn't be a detective very long. Abra is simply too "perfect" to be believed; in fact, I spent most of the book convinced that she was so goody-two-shoes that she just had to end up a villain. Despite his protestations of innocence and attempts to prove he didn't commit either murder, I just couldn't muster up much sympathy for the very stubborn Eli. Even the fairly explicit love scenes between Eli and Abra were, well, lackluster - mostly because I never felt much real chemistry between the two.
Then too, words and phrases kept appearing and reappearing, sometimes in the same paragraph - and although it's been said that repetition is the key to learning, it does nothing to boost the excitement level. In fact, it's downright boring, and it made me conclude that this tale could have been told more effectively in half the number of pages. Leave out some of the multi-talented Abra's endless accomplishments (good lord, is there anything the woman can't do?) and I was sure of it. At one point, in fact, I even envisioned her in the Yoga downward facing dog position while chopping apples with one hand, washing the dog with the other and balancing Eli's laptop on her upward-facing butt.
All along, I kept thinking (make that hoping) that I'd come to a few plot twists that would spark a little emotion - perhaps that one of the characters wasn't who he or she purported to be and I'd at least get to be surprised. Whether or not that happened I can't write here without revealing too much, so I'll just say that while this isn't an awful book and I'm not sorry I read it, it's not even close to a favorite.
Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts; Putnam Adult (April 2013); 495 pp.