When will I learn? I’ve read over 200 Nora Roberts novels, and yet every once in a while I will still read a synopsis for an upcoming novel of hers and decide that I’m not sure I’m going to love that one. So instead of preordering, like I generally do for her new releases, I place a hold with my library. That’s what I did with Legacy. And now I have to buy it anyway, because I loved it.
Adrian Rizzo is among my favorite of Nora’s protagonists. We first meet her when she’s seven, and we follow her through her childhood and teenage years into adulthood. Her mother, Lena, is the founder and face of Yoga Baby, a fitness line specializing in workout videos. After Adrian’s biological father storms into her home and tries to kill Adrian for simply existing, Lena kills him in self defense. This notoriety blasts her already successful brand into a multi-million dollar corporation. As Adrian grows, we see her determination to forge her own path, even as it closely resembles her mother’s.
I’m going to be honest here. One of the main reasons I didn’t expect to love this book was the choice of professions. Nora tends to give her characters interesting jobs and an entrepreneurial spirit, but I doubted her ability to make me care about the drive and ambition of someone who made fitness DVDs. I was wrong. I ended up being incredibly invested in every aspect of Adrian’s life, and that definitely includes her career. Adrian is strong and creative and driven and kind, and I thought Nora did a brilliant job balancing all of these attributes without making Adrian’s very existence seem improbable. I also really loved her friends, her grandparents, the town of Traveler’s Creek, and even the two adorable dogs whose love story is just about the sweetest thing I’ve ever read.
And then there’s Raylan. He’s another fantastic, creative character. His arc differed greatly from most of Nora’s leading men. I can’t say a lot about his story without spoiling some important plot points, but I will say he’s a wonderful father and a truly gifted artist. Raylan writes and illustrates superhero graphic novels, which reminded me of the lead in another of Nora’s standalones, Tribute. But as that’s a profession I find fascinating, and as there were plenty of other traits to set the two men apart from one another, I didn’t mind the repetition.
Something I’ve been loving for the past few years is Nora’s decision to veer away from her own template. Her early novels, while great, were indubitably formulaic, so much so that I could just about pinpoint at what percentage in the book the main characters would kiss for the first time, have sex for the first time, have a disagreement that seemed like a dealbreaker, and when they would face some kind of outside conflict that would cement their relationship. Obviously I didn’t mind this, as I read dozens upon dozens of these books, but her newer works are less predicable in this regard. I can still usually tell who the antagonist is far before the protagonist does, and I know that there will always be a romance for the main character and a happily ever after at the end of the story. But the actual pacing of each story is no longer identical, which has made for a more interesting reading experience. Not more enjoyable, but more interesting.
I also love that Nora has been trying to incorporate more real-life issues into her novels. This book alone included elements like domestic violence, school shootings, stalking, and sex scandals between professors and students. Then there were broader themes, like dealing with grief and the different faces of parental relationships with children. I love that her work has gotten deeper while still staying true to her fans and delivering the kinds of stories that made so many readers fall in love with her books.
I shouldn’t have been surprised by how much I loved Legacy, and yet here we are. Nora never disappoints. She’s been my go-to comfort author for over half of my life (?!) now, and I don’t see that changing for as long as she continues to publish. Her characters always win my heart, and I can always trust her to give me a happy ending. I have no doubt that I’ll be a faithful fan of hers until my dying day.
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