I am probably one of the most fanatic Nora Roberts fans ever. I have all of her books and have been reading them slowly but steadily for the past two years. So it was no surprise that when The Collector was out on April 2015, I bought it without a second thought.
The interesting thing about reading too much of someone’s books is that you start to see certain patterns and changes in the writer’s style over the course of time. Her earlier books were more centered in passion, then there was too much violence, and now there is always an underlying layer of fun and laughter.
The Collector follows the comic tendency. It involves brutal violence too, but you always end up smiling at some point (at the lighter parts, of course, not the violent ones). It makes the horror, in my opinion, more manageable, and somewhat more bearable.
Lila Emerson, the main character, introduced me to a whole new universe of house-sitting – I was unaware that such profession existed, but after the book I researched about it. It is indeed an occupation, but rarely people make money with this. Usually nobody pays or receives anything, but the benefit for both parts is that the person can leave his or her house for how long necessary without worrying that it will be robbed (because it won’t be empty) and the house-sitter has a place to be for free. You can actually use this in your travels; you won’t have to pay for hotels anymore. Your only obligation while in another person’s house is to tend to the plants, if the homeowner has any, or their pets. Not a bad deal, right?
Anyway. While Lila home-sits, she uses her free time to write young-adult fiction novels; she is still at the start of her career, but it is a promising one. And she is curious: her most loved hobby is to use a binocular to peek at other people’s windows. While she watches the action, she conjures up whole lives. It’s almost like watching television.
Then one night she witnesses a double murder and her whole life changes. Not because of the trauma – that she overcomes eventually. But because the fact that she saw what happened leads her to meet the temperamental and very smart Ashton Archer, a known artist who is brother of one of the murdered. He is, to all extents, a typical Nora Roberts male. Strong, reliable, alpha personality. But what is slightly new and surprised me in a very positive way is that he wants justice, but not violence. He can be violent if he wants, but he chooses not to. He doesn’t want to kill his brother’s murderer, he just wants to help the police to arrest the responsible, so he has this kind of collaborative relationship with the law (you know, make the research and the investigation by himself, but tells everything he discovers to the cops). That is completely amazing, and I loved it.
But more than that, what affected me most in this book was Lila. I really connected with her. She has my age, loves to write, is very empathetic and revels in the process of making herself pretty (makeup, nice dresses, must-have shoes..). And she travels to Italy unexpectedly at some point, which for some strange coincidence was a part of the book I reached as I was in the process of going to Italy myself (in unexpected circumstances too).
My Nora Roberts specialized opinion is that this book is great and reflects a new writing tendency on Nora’s part that I love and admire. I’ll admit the plot was not so complex as she is capable of creating, but it was light, entertaining, romantic and fun. The kind that leaves you with a smile.
Good work, Mrs. Roberts. Good work.