A highly prolific author, the bestselling American novelist Nora Roberts has created over 225 books so far and counting. Mainly focusing on romance novels, she also combines elements of fantasy and science-fiction within her work too, using a whole host of different genres throughout her literary career. One series that she’s well known for is her ‘In Death’ collection of novels, set in the future featuring the investigations and relationship of Lieutenant Eve Dallas. Writing them under the pen-name of J.D. Robb, she has assumed a number of different pseudonyms, including Jill March and Sarah Hardesty.
It would be during a blizzard in February, 1979, that Nora Roberts would turn her hand to writing, after being housebound with the snow and her children. This would lead to a lifelong passion for the written word when, in 1981, she would have her first book published through the Silhouette label titled Irish Thoroughbred. Starting out in romance literature she would quickly find her feet as an author, using the pen-name of Nora Roberts, shortened from her birth name of Eleanor Marie Robertson. Writing mostly romance literature, she would soon branch out to other genres, such as science-fiction, as seen with the first ‘In Death’ book, Naked in Death, written in 1995. Establishing her own style now, she would find her voice within a combination of different genres, with over 200 novels written by 2012.
She would also see her novels adapted into film too, with eight successful made-for-TV movies being produced for the Lifetime channel. One of the most prolific authors in her field, she has won numerous awards, such as the Golden Medallion, the RITA, and the Quill awards, all of which has seen her become an international success. With all this attention, she’s produced a variety of career highlights within her extensive body of work, and some that really stand out.
Best Nora Roberts Books
These are, in my own personal opinion, the top five books that she currently has released:
See at Amazon#5: New York to Dallas (2011)
The first man that Lieutenant Eve Dallas put away as a young rookie has now broken free from jail, returning to haunt her from the past. With Isaac McQueen now on the loose, he’s a dangerous paedophile with a sadistic streak, wanting to torture, and ‘punish’ as he sees it, young girls. Trailing him, Eve must close the case again, bringing him to justice and putting an end to his reign of terror finally once and for all.
Marking number 33 in the ‘In Death’ series, this is definitely one of the best, showing the author clearly in her stride with the characters and the world. This time managing some weightier issues, it really doesn’t hold back in terms of story and content, seeing how far Eve has come as a protagonist. One of the best of the series, it’s a great thriller novel, and one that is as chilling as it is compelling to read, whilst being difficult to put down.
See at Amazon#4: Birthright (2003)
Following the discovery of five-thousand year old human bones found beneath a construction site located in a small-town called Woodsboro, Callie Dunbrook embarks on an adventure of archaeology and romance. It seems that there’s a curse of death and misfortune hanging over the project though, and, not only that, but her irresistible ex has arrived back on the scene. That’s when a stranger turns up claiming to have knowledge of her past growing up, with information pertaining to her privileged upbringing in Boston.
As a stand-alone novel, this is an ideal casual read for fans of both romance and drama, mixed with its suspense fuelled narrative. Roberts is a writer who really knows her audience, and this book is definitely no exception, ticking all the right boxes at just the right beats. Filled with a sense of mystery too, this really is a title that will keep readers guessing right until the very last page.
See at Amazon#3: Vision in White (2009)
Having always been interested in planning weddings since they were young children, setting up make-believe ceremonies in the back garden; Laurel, Parker, Mac and Emma now run their own wedding planning company called ‘Vows’. Mackensie ‘Mac’ Elliot is most comfortable behind a camera, and that’s when she comes into contact with a bride-to-be’s brother, changing them both forever. Not believing that Carter Maguire would be the one for her, she soon finds herself thinking about him more and more, as he becomes a definite possibility.
This may seem like a fairly standard romance on the surface, but Roberts has an eye for detail that really helps elevate it above the rest. Setting up the first title in the ‘Bride Quartet’ series of novels too, it’s a great opener to the franchise, as well as for newcomers to Robert’s work. With well crafted characters and a compelling story too, this is an ideal casual summer read quite unlike any other.
See at Amazon#2: Black Hills (2009)
Spending summers at her grandparents’ ranch in South Dakota, eleven year old Cooper Sullivan is initially reluctant to go there. That’s when he meets the young girl Lil Chance, and they enjoy many summers together, despite also sharing the experience of discovering a dead hiker one year. Some time later Cooper returns after working as a private investigator in New York, in order to look after his now sick grandparents, as he meets Chance again, and two of them seek to uncover the mystery of the unsolved murder all those years passed.
This novel was somewhat unexpected when I first picked it up, surprising me with its genuine and touching story. Combining romance with an element of mystery, it really does hit all the right notes when it comes to keeping the reader engaged. With a lot of information on endangered animals too, that being something the character of Chance is focused on, it really does have much to offer.
See at Amazon#1: Blue Dahlia (2004)
Only just recently widowed, Stella Rothschild has begun to love again, this time the man being Logan Kitridge. It appears that someone is unhappy about this budding romance though, someone who would do anything to see it come apart at the seams. Angered by Stella’s feelings developing for Logan, the ‘Harper Bride’, whilst physically dead, is being kept alive in spirit form through sheer rage and grief.
With an eerie element to it, this simple romance is great in how it carries itself confidently on the page. Getting the balance just right, it has everything from a passionate romance, to a supernatural undertone giving it the darker factor. The atmosphere and ambiance of the story is also something that Roberts excels at, immersing the reader deep within her world.
Best Authors To Read If You Like Nora Roberts:
Christine Feehan: Whilst Roberts opts for primarily science-fiction inflected romances, Christine Feehan uses more paranormal and fantasy elements in her work. One of the best at what she does, she has over 70 novels so far and counting, with many of them being longer running series too. Writing military thrillers as well, she’s an extremely versatile bestselling author with a whole host of engaging novels.
Mary Higgins Clark: Mainly writing psychological mystery thrillers, Clark really is a master of her craft, and is a must for any fans of Roberts’ use of suspense. Creating numerous series and stand-alones, she always knows how to draw her readers in, keeping them hooked on her words. Writing since the mid-seventies, she’s made a big name for herself over the years, having built a strong and successful legacy.
Nicholas Sparks: Well known for creating highly successful tearjerkers, he’s definitely a master of the form, knowing precisely how to finely hone a romance to perfection. With his own unique formula, Sparks has a certain style much like Roberts, and he knows exactly which narrative beats to hit and when. There has also been numerous Nicholas Sparks film adaptations of his work too, with many of them being commercially successful.
Jayne Ann Krentz: Writing under different pen-names, such as Jayne Castle, Krentz is a highly successful American author of romantic fiction. Whether she’s writing historical or science-fiction style romance, she’s always remained ahead of the game. She would also come to pioneer the subgenre of futuristic romance, something which Roberts herself now draws from.
Sandra Brown: The bestselling American author Sandra Lynn Brown is very well regarded thanks to her romantic and suspense filled thriller novels. Drawing from a rich tradition, she’s been writing since 1981, with plenty of titles written under her own name, along with three other pseudonyms. There has also been films produced from her work too, as well as contributing to television shows herself.
Best Podcasts If You Like Nora Roberts:
The Page Turner – Naked in Death by J.D. Robb: Examining the first book that Nora Roberts ever wrote, this looks at the book ‘Naked in Death’. Covering the whole story, the hosts break down all aspects of the novel as a whole.
Academic in Death – Dr. Kecia Ali: This hears from Dr. Kecia Ali, as she talks about her academic work studying the ‘In Death’ series. Looking at the success of the books and what it means, this is a fascinating insight into the underlying themes of Roberts’ much loved franchise.
The Romantic Suspense Insider – J.D. Robb’s Apprentice In Death: This gives an analysis of what makes romantic suspense work best, here examining the ‘In Death’ novels. With a lot of insight, this is great for any fans of Roberts’ novels.