1995, Futuristic Romantic Suspense
Berkley, $7.99, 306 pages, Amazon ASIN 0425148297 Part of a series
Clever lady, Nora Roberts. With the first book of this series, she has created a world of the future, but she’s placed it only far enough away so that some of us, with the right medical care and a little luck, might live to see it. It is the world our grandchildren will inherit, and Ms. Roberts gives us a glimpse of the legacy our actions today leave for those we love. Nothing tricky, nothing fancy, just certain policies, technologies, attitudes that, left to move forward without careful thought now, will come to fruition - for good or ill - sixty years from yesterday.
Immersed in this world, products of it, are Eve Dallas and Roarke - she, a methodical New York homicide detective; he, a self-made Irish billionaire. Apart, they are forces to be reckoned with; together, they generate enough blistering heat to melt my glasses right to my nose.
In the 21st Century, prostitution is legal, regulated, and, while not exactly something you want your daughter to do for a living, the social stigma is not as great as in the past. But a professional whore (the rebellious granddaughter of a high-ranking senator) has been methodically and brutally murdered, and Lt. Eve Dallas is primary on the case. At thirty, Eve has been on the force for ten years. She’s good at her work, she’s capable of pushing her emotions under to get the job done, and she’s lonely as all hell. Roarke, mover-and-shaker both on-planet and off, knew the victim (intimately?), and he quickly tops the list as Suspect #1.
But, when Eve and Roarke meet, their gazes lock across a crowded room and an electric charge snaps between them neither has experienced before, nor can explain. Each subsequent encounter is intense and they both begin to realize there’s more going on here than detective pursuing suspect. Roarke is fascinated by the beautiful, intelligent, cool-headed woman behind the badge, and he intends to see her without that badge, or anything else for that matter. The first time they make love, their mutual passion borders on animal ferocity. I was a wax puddle by the time I finished reading it.
The murderer promised six kills in all, and now two more women have turned up dead. The deaths, the stress and brutality of Eve's previous case, political pressure to solve this case fast, all combine with Eve's personally harrowing memories to give her terrible nightmares. She doesn’t remember her childhood, doesn’t want to remember. Through Roarke’s steadiness and compassion, Eve begins to trust enough to let the long-denied past surface.
Naked In Death sets the stage for the books that follow. Each subseqent story will allow Eve and Roarke to further develop their relationship. Roarke falls hard for Eve, he knows it, and tells her so. He’s a strong, compassionate, thoughtful hero who wants more than Eve’s body; he want her heart, and he’s willing to wait for as long as it takes. Fighting tooth-and-nail against her feelings for Roarke, Eve emotionally runs from him at every turn. But Roarke intends to be there when Eve finally stops combatting their attraction and realizes the only place she’s going is back into his arms.
This book is a mystery but I figured it out almost immediately, including the little twist. Ms. Roberts doesn't cheat; she gives you clues, and if you think about them, you'll get it. If Naked is any indicator, the In Death series is going to be rough. Unrelenting street language, no-holds-barred homicide investigations, searing sensuality, and a believable world of the next century, all combine to make this compelling reading. Nora Roberts - with truly, very few words - has crafted an intense story, and created two strong, sympathetic, highly readable lovers. I'd heard she's good, and now I know what all the raves are about - she is good. There are six books in the series so far, with the seventh, Holiday In Death, coming out next month. I don’t know how long it will take me, but I’m reading them all.
-- Marianne Stillings
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