A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.
Some might say this series are really mysteries and they are partly right. But as the author is an alter ego of Nora Roberts, romance is definitely involved. Sure, the main protagonist is Lieutenant Eve Dallas, a detective in New York City whose steely intelligence takes the lead in solving crimes. And her husband, Roarke, is a charming Irishman who owns more businesses and properties than most people can count and sometimes helps on cases as a civilian consultant. But despite the often suspenseful crime solving, their relationship is at the core of the books and the one constant through the series.
The NYC portrayed by Robb is set in the mid-twenty first century (beginning in 2058), after the Urban Wars and is much more technologically advanced with vehicles that fly as well as drive, links instead of phones, robot servants and canned forensic tools. Other planets have been made habitable. I picture it much like the world in “Bladerunner”. This atmosphere is accented more in the early books or possibly, I’ve gotten more used to it. The secondary characters are well drawn and that includes the police team Dallas works with. Her partner, New Ager Delia Peabody is one of my favorites, as is the Department’s psychologist, the comforting Dr. Charlotte Mira.
Dallas was brutally and sexually abused as a child and this makes her fearless in trying to understand the dark side of humanity. She comes off as guarded and ruthless, but those who know her best realize that there is a loyal and concerned friend beneath it all and that knowledge often leads to humorous encounters in the books.
Roarke has a criminal past, as a seasoned thief who was running a gambling ring by the time he was 16. He has parlayed this into a phenomenal business career, which operates in the mostly legitimate realm of property ownership and development, tech services and product inventions. He is a savvy and perceptive person with great people skills. He and Dallas live in a huge mansion with Summerset, their curmudgeonly majordomo, who rescued Roarke as a homeless child in Ireland. Galahad, the chubby grey cat rounds out the household residents.
It’s easy to love someone when they are young and carefree, but to love a person with baggage takes more fortitude. For someone with Dallas’s past to trust someone and have a fulfilling physical relationship says a lot about the connection between she and Roarke. Both of them are described as fit and good looking, so that’s a nod to the usual romantic guidelines, but each of them have scars on the inside which makes vulnerability a challenge. I like the fact that they are middle-aged, with rocky pasts and still make their relationship work. It’s not always perfect or filled with snappy quips, but their marriage deepens with each novel and that makes it more realistic and satisfying for the reader.
The series is 36 books so far, along with some novellas in several mystery collections. Each novel has the words “In Death” in the title, such as Vengeance in Death or Holiday in Death, the first word usually having a connection to the plot. The action sometimes gets a bit too gritty for me and I’ve had to skip sections, but overall they are riveting mysteries with excellent character development and interaction and some truly steamy romance. Their popularity is very well deserved.
Series began in 1995 with Naked in Death. Published by The Penguin Group in ebooks and traditional formats