Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts doesn't always live up to her full potential, but she is one of contemporary fiction's most consistently intelligent and entertaining writers. While it seems like she puts out a dozen books a year, her stuff is always fun and well researched. The character motivation in some of her weaker efforts can seem a little flimsy, and you might feel like you have met the same characters in one of her previous books, but Ms. Roberts is one of the few authors on the planet whose books are always worth the money. (Although this recommendation does come with a warning--see the Availability section for details.)

Note: One of my favorite things about Ms. Roberts's books is her tremendous respect for hard work and the people who do it. She's not snotty about the kind of work, either--Ms. Roberts writes about the work done by hairstylists and housekeepers with the same degree of respect and interest that she writes about the jobs of world-famous artists and billionaire business people. I defy anyone to read Dance Upon the Air without eyeing their cookbooks, or the Daring to Dream series without thinking wistfully about owning their own business.

The clothes! She's not as bad as Laurell K. Hamilton, but Nora Roberts consistently dresses her heroines (most of whom are under thirty-five) in clothes that sound like they came straight off of the set of Dynasty. She once described a thirty-year-old ex-supermodel prancing around in bright red leggings and a T-shirt, accessorized with heavy gold jewelry. Riiiight. (And you'd better be a supermodel if you're trying to carry off tomato-red leggings.) Once she dressed a New England bookstore owner in a gold mini-dress with matching citrine jewelry, gold heels, and big hair--and by "New England", I'm talking Massachusetts, not New Jersey.

Everywhere. Be sure to check used bookstores first, where you can find a lot of her earlier books (many of which are now being re-released) for a fraction of the price. I recently saw a copy of Ms. Roberts's very entertaining novel Hidden Riches at Target. It was an oversized paperback, and priced (on sale!) at slightly over nine dollars. Please don't fall for this: there are plenty of trade-paperback-sized copies of Hidden Riches at any decent used bookstore, and while they might not be as pretty, they will cost you less than five bucks. Save your money--not because Ms. Roberts's books aren't worth it, but because there are so many of them that you'll need all the spare change you can dig up.

Note: To her credit, Ms. Roberts has taken steps to lessen any confusion as to whether her books are new or re-releases. Any new work will have a round gold-colored "NR" stamp on the cover.

And if you're a truly rabid Nora Roberts fan, we understand that you can get autographed copies of her books here.

Other Recommendations:
Anything by Jennifer Crusie

The Stephanie Plum books, by Janet Evanovich

Anything by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

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Posted by: Julia


05 Sep, 2004 10:07 AM @ version 0

My favorite thing about Nora's books is how throughly researched they are. My favorites are "Hidden Riches" and the Daring to Dream series, and the Three Sisters Island trilogy. When she's writing as J.D. Robb, I really look forward to seeing how her secondary characters are developed.

06 Mar, 2005 12:34 PM @ version 0

HAH! The clothes are terrible. So's the jewelry. But the books? They are awesome.

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