Tribute by Nora Roberts
Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Putnam Adult; First Edition edition (July 8, 2008)
By Jessica Stewart, Courier Editor-in-Chief
”Standing, she scanned the ruined lawns, the sagging fences, the sad old barn that stood soot gray and scarred from weather. There had been chickens once--or so she’d been told--a couple of pretty horses, tidy fields of crops, a small, thriving grove of fruit trees. She wanted to believe--maybe needed to believe--she could bring all that back. That by the next spring, and all the springs after, she could stand here and look at the budding, the blooming, the business of what had been her grandmother’s.
Of what was now hers.”
Unfortunately, bringing her grandmother’s house back to life will also bring back to life a hatred that has been buried for decades. This is a fantastic book. Nora Roberts does a beautiful job of combining romance and mystery, reality and imagination, character development and plot. It is the perfect length, not so short that it skimps on details and not so long that it bores the reader. It has a satisfying conclusion that ties up all of the loose ends. I was not left wanting more of the story, but I was definitely left wanting more of Roberts’s books.
A former child star, Cilla McGowan has found much more fulfillment in restoring homes. Now, she is in Virginia with plans to restore her grandmother’s farmhouse. Her grandmother was once a legendary actress who tragically died of a drug overdose at a young age, leaving behind only her grieving daughter, her house, and her legend. Unable to endure the memories the house brought back to her, Cilla’s mother abandoned it, allowing it to fall apart. Cilla decides to bring the house back to life as a tribute to the grandmother she feels a deeper connection with than she does her mother.
Cilla’s hot new neighbor, Ford Sawyer, is a popular graphic novelist. He finds inspiration in Cilla, whose toned body and way with a sledgehammer reminds him of a warrior goddess. He is also strongly attracted to her, and cannot resist popping over to visit her often. The sparks fly, and, while Cilla initially tries to resist them because of her fear of screwing things up between them, Ford eventually prevails, and they begin their rocky descent into love.
Meanwhile, someone keeps on vandalizing Cilla’s new house, and things get dangerous when her visiting ex-husband is attacked and ends up in the hospital in a coma. Cilla and Ford must figure out who is behind the threatening pranks before it is too late and the hatred Cilla has awakened from its dormancy results in another premature death.
The characters are interesting and mostly lovable, and the development of Cilla’s and Ford’s characters is fun to watch. Roberts’s descriptions of the settings are fantastic, transporting the reader to the gorgeous Shenandoah Valley. The extensive research on restoring houses that Nora must have done is obvious in the details she provides the reader with, adding depth to the plot. The mixture of characterization, setting and research make the read enjoyable.
I absolutely loved Tribute, and have nothing to complain about. The plot was fast-paced, but not so speedy that you miss the little details. The reader must traverse many twists and turns in the road to the end of the book, and the hairpin turn at the end catches you off-guard, but it is an enjoyable ride, and I fully recommend it.