Publisher: Putnam Adult
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
As a professional house-sitter and freelance writer, nothing ties Lila Emerson down – not her work, not a home, and definitely not a relationship. She spends her life moving from one job to the next, sometimes crashing at a friend’s Manhattan apartment. And though she can appreciate her clients’ extraordinary homes, their expensive collections, and their adorable pets, Lila has never longed for possessions of her own. Everything she has, including her heart, is portable.
But when she witnesses a possible murder-suicide from her current apartment-sitting job, life as Lila knows it takes a dramatic turn.
Artist Ashton Archer knows his charming, clever, and impulsive brother couldn’t have killed his girlfriend – or taken his own life. His hope of unraveling what happened lies with Lila, the only eyewitness. And even buried in grief, Ash longs to paint the woman whose deep, dark eyes seem to hold endless reserves of strength and fiery passion.
Chalking up their intense attraction to the heat of the moment, Lila agrees to help Ash in trying to find out who murdered his brother and why. From the penthouses of Manhattan to grand Italian villas, their investigation draws them into a rarefied circle where priceless antiques are bought, sold, gambled away, and stolen, where what you possess is who you are, and where what you desire becomes a deadly obsession…
Like the priceless Fabergé eggs the titular character covets, The Collector is not only gorgeous, but exquisitely crafted. The Master of Romance, Nora Roberts, has woven an engrossing tale of love, family, and the lengths some will go to possess that which they desire the most.
At the heart of The Collector are Lila and Ash. Ashton’s a famous artist from a wealthy – and incredibly large – family, but he’s no spoiled rich boy. Ash puts his heart and vision into his paintings and saves his patience for his (over a dozen) siblings. I loved the juxtaposition of soulful painter and managing brother in Ash. What was even more fun was seeing him thrown a bit off his stride by Lila. She’s a YA author with a promising career and a penchant for people-watching who finds her in a Rear Window type of situation, one which ultimately leads Ash to her. Lila is also the “do it yourself” type to the extreme. She has a way of drawing people to her, but she’ll never let herself count on anyone for anything (with the exception of her best friend, Julie) and she doesn’t have any desire to risk her heart. Ash garners her sympathy from the start because of his heartache over losing his brother, Oliver, but his take-charge attitude rubs her the wrong way even as she finds herself reluctantly attracted to him. Though it’s a tragedy that brings them together, Lila and Ash find what they never knew they needed in one another. Their romance is both lovely and fun – the banter, ups and downs, and slide into love is all classic Nora Roberts (and I mean that in the very best way).
A secondary romance between Ash and Lila’s best friends brings further charm and unexpected moments of delight to The Collector, but what really makes this a well-rounded story is the mystery of who had Oliver Archer killed and the historically significant art Ash’s quest for answers uncovers. The detail Ms. Roberts layers into The Collector brings the lost Imperial eggs to life and I found myself invested in learning the eggs’ history alongside our protagonists. And while there isn’t any heart-pounding suspense in the book, there is definitely building tension when it comes to the assassin who is hunting Lila and Ash. I won’t spoil the story by going into too much detail, but I will say that each stop on the path Ash and Lila follow makes the reader more invested in the journey and the action-packed climax of the book is well worth the buildup.
Though it may sound odd to describe a book containing murder, fanatic collectors, and ruthless assassins as a comfort read, that’s just what The Collector is to me. Reading a Nora Roberts novel is like coming home – her distinctive style and hero and heroines you’d love to have as friends make even her darker books welcoming. Fans of Ms. Roberts old and new are sure to be entertained by The Collector. I, for one, am looking forward to enjoying Lila and Ash’s story for many years to come.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.