Thursday, May 28, 2009

Vision in White by Nora Roberts

I have read many of Nora Roberts' books --part of my book case is full of what I refer to as my "comfort reads" and Nora's contemporary romances make up a large percentage of those reads. So, I was quite happy when I heard she was releasing a new quartet of contemporary romance books, no paranormal, suspense or villains included, thank you. Vision in White, the first book in this quartet is just that, a romance.

Parker, Emma, Laurel, and Mackenzie are both childhood friends and co-founders of Vows, an upscale wedding planning company in Connecticut. They run the business together and each plays a key role. Mac is Vow's super talented wedding photographer and from the beginning it's obvious that she feels most comfortable when behind the lens. She almost seems to prefer living life in "moments" she attempts to capture through her camera.

Mac's childhood was an unhappy one--her parents divorced and promptly remarried several times. Linda, Mac's mother, also had multiple relationships throughout Mac's life and is portrayed as a selfish, self-centered woman who neglected Mac and her needs. Most of Mac's inner conflict comes from trauma caused by a dysfunctional relationship with her parents--mainly her mother--a trauma she can't seem to shake even as an adult. As a result, Mac's family are her friends; they are the only ones she can trust and who have been there for her since childhood. Roberts succeeds in portraying this group of friends as a family who loves, disagrees and fights when necessary.

While planning the wedding for a childhood friend, Mac meets the bride's brother, Carter Maguire, in an unforgettable scene that is painfully amusing. Mac doesn't quite remember him, but Carter certainly remembers her. Mac was that unattainable and unforgettable high school crush for him and here she is again in all her glory--the crush flares up again with a vengeance. Shy and clumsy, Carter is also a handsome and eye catching high school English teacher. His honesty and insecurities provide some of the most humorous and sweet moments in the story.

Carter's friend Bob, a fellow teacher, who decides to give Carter unsolicited advise on how to "go get" Mac, became one of my favorite secondary characters. I enjoyed more than a few chuckles between their dialogue and some of Carter's internal debates about Bob's advise. Bob went as far as giving Carter a list of suggestions and lines to use at strategic moments. Carter started calling them the "Law of Bob." Of course, the dreaded list became a problem; I thought the Law of Bob was going to drive the poor man to drink.


Following, there were several suggestions for greetings or initial conversation points such as You look beautiful, Great dress, I saw these (flowers) and thought of you.

Carter stuffed the list back in his pocket before any of them imprinted on his brain. But not before he'd noted Bob's decree to tune the car radio to classic lite or smooth jazz, on low volume.

He might end up killing Bob, Carter mused.

He drove the next few miles while obsessing about background music before snapping off the radio. The hell with it. He turned into the long, winding drive of the estate.

"What if she's not wearing a dress," he muttered, as despite all efforts Bob's list popped into his mind. And unfortunately, his own question had the image of Mac in black pants and white bra crowding Bob out.

"I don't mean that. For God's sake. I mean, she might be wearing something other than a dress. What do I say then: Nice pants? Outfit, outfit, great outfit, You know it's called an outfit. Dear God, shut up."
I liked the way Carter pursued Mac. He gave her the space she needed to come to terms with her inner conflicts, but he was also persistent and honest about his feelings to a fault. I truly couldn't see how she was going to resist him. On the other hand, Mac was more than surprised when she fell in lust with the professor--he was definitely not her type and she didn't really believe in love or marriage. So what was her answer? An affair. Mackenzie's struggles with her feelings and Carter's belief in his are the core of this story.

Mac's friends are very much a part of Vision in White. We not only get to meet Parker, Emma and Laurel, but also a slew of brides, grooms and assorted family members that make the business as much a part of the story as the characters. Mac's friends as secondary characters, were developed enough for this story --we definitely get a good sense of the dynamics in their friendship and individual personalities are well established. I'm sure we'll get to know each one of them better when their stories are told.

Their business Vows is portrayed almost as a secondary character instead of just the background for the story. Nora's research on wedding planning was excellent; the details are amazing -- from the planning, to the flower arrangements, to the catering and the dresses, this reader learned more than she thought possible, or maybe even cared to, about the business.

I found this to be a sweet, enjoyable romance between the two main characters with plenty of humor and a lovable Beta hero, where the conflict between them was minimal but concentrated mostly on the heroine's personal issues to reach that happy ending. A nice group of friends who are obviously going to have their own romantic happy ever afters added depth to the story. And I can't conclude my impressions without mentioning Vows, the business that felt more like a secondary character and where I thought Roberts' research on wedding planning was excellent, but personally found it to overwhelm the story at times. I give this one a B

Bed of Roses, the next book in this contemporary romance quartet releases November 24th.

Visit Nora Roberts here. Read an excerpt for Vision in White here.

10 comments:

  1. Can you believe that I've never read Nora Roberts! Yesterday I saw an audio version of Visions in White in Walmart for ten dollars and passed on it. I'm really kicking myself for it now. Crap.

    On a vanity note, I noticed that the actual book is very nice. The outside is soft and bendable and the pages are lovely. I was tempted to buy the book just for its outward presentation!

    Anyway, thanks for the great review, Hils.

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  2. Brie, Nora's straight romances are some of my favorites. It has been quite a while since she's written one without some sort of villain involved in the plot (romance/suspense). I read them, but I tend to love her straight romance best.
    Some favorites are her Born trilogy and the Chesapeake Bay trilogy, but there are quite a few stand alones that I also like. (A reads)

    Brie, the covers for these books are gorgeous! The next one Bed of Roses looks just yummy too. I'm pretty visual and tactile, so I can relate to the enjoyment of a gorgeous cover and pages. :)

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  3. Hilcia, I'm so glad that you enjoyed the book as well :) I think it was high time Ms Roberts come back to straight contemps with her trilogies (okay, now quartet).

    I really enjoyed the book, love the dynamics between the characters. Definitively love Carter, I mean, so cute!! :) Overall, great book.

    Brie - this book is pretty which I think make up for its cost :P I'm not as fond of the cover for Bed of Roses, but will definitively get it :)

    I recommend the Chesapeake Bay series, Brie. It's awesome :)

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  4. Ah, I see you enjoyed it too, nath!:) Ms. Roberts can surely write a Beta hero and make us enjoy him.

    I'm hoping she'll be writing more than this quartet of straight romances and gives us more in future. I'm also getting Bed of Roses, you know I am. *g*

    nath, I go back and forth on which is my favorite trilogy -- Born or Chesapeake Bay, I can NEVER choose. I love the way she writes about Ireland, so Born... I love what she did with those brothers, so Chesapeake **sigh**

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  5. Hi!!(waves)
    I found you too!! (LOL)

    I'm planing on reading this one sometime this week :)

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  6. Chesapeake, Chesapeake, Chesapeake! LOL :) Nothing can beat the sibling relationship between Cam, Ethan, Phil and Seth... seriously :) I think that's one of the rare series where I really believe in the male camaraderie.

    Born was okay, I liked the first one - Maggie and Rogan were a great couple. The second one was okay, and the third, so-so. I don't know, the mom annoyed me so much. So in my book, Chesapeake all the way :)

    Ah well, even if she doesn't write other straight contemps after this quartet, we'll still have her stand-alones :P

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  7. Hi, AnimeGirl! Glad you found me.
    I hope you enjoy this one. We'll talk be able to talk about it after you read it. :)

    Ah, nath! You make such a great case for Chesapeake, but I'm EASY when it comes to these two trilogies. You're right, we'll still have her stand alones. And I have my re-reads.

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  8. I read one of Nora's trilogies years ago but don't remember which one. Recently I read her Blood Brothers trilogy which was ok/good/ok. I've got this one requested from the library.

    Brie - LOL - I saw it at Borders and had to pick it up and touch it. I'm a book fondler. :)

    Thanks for the review Hils. :)

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  9. Hi Leslie. I thought her Blood Brothers trilogy was ok too -- liked one book more than the others, as far as the romance goes. I do prefer her straight romances. Although I have to say her Key Trilogy was a good one. :)

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  10. I hate to disagree with most of you but I hated the book, Vision in White - found it dull and boring.

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