In prep for my trip back to BoonsBoro I’m reading a trilogy inspired by the real place. The Next Always is book one about Boonsboro MD by Nora Roberts and as an author with so many books under her belt, I can’t help but be intrigued by this story. [goodreads review]
Beckett is one of three boys, grown men, who have taken on the project of renovating Inn BoonsBoro with their mother and the help of their small town. Everyone in town is excited and awaiting the reveal of the Inn, but Clare Brewster has other things on her mind. As mother of three and widow, when Beckett starts to come around more often, befriending her boys, lending a hand around the house, and sweeping her off her feet she can hardly refuse. Romance, brotherhood, and even a fretting ghost mixed in, The Next Always is a story steeped in family.
Nora Roberts’ Inn BoonsBoro trilogy is one of a kind. Not only is it a novel about a real location but the details are spot on and from personal experience. The Inn, Vesta’s Pizza, and Turn The Page Bookstore are all real places, but what makes the book even more rich and enjoyable is that Nora and her family own these locations. Her details are spot on and it gives a reader who has been to the real place a really exciting rush to read.
Sadly, the story around the locations is the most lacking. Even with a clean writing and a clear voice, Clare and Beckett’s romance is pretty tame. There’s little to no spark and both seem to be in love with each other prior to the book beginning. This is actually quite the opposite of instant love. Their fondness for each other is not a negative and it leaves more room for the interaction between Clare, her three boys and Beckett which is the best part of the novel. The real place this story shines is in all things family.
There were a few odd story threads; a ghost story that (is amazing) but doesn’t really fit in except that it may be real life town lore. A stalker that felt tacked on just so there was a villain in the story to check a box and overall the plot points were predictable and formulaic. With knowing all of these negatives the book was still enjoyable for what it was. A cool novelty for a tourist and a quick summer read. Oh, and did I mention the physical book is absolutely gorgeous! Stunning covers, textured paper, and a map of the town on the inside covers for reference. Keep that cover artist Nora, they are killing it!