Identity by Nora Roberts

Identity by Nora RobertsIdentity by Nora Roberts
Published by Macmillan Publishers, St. Martin's Press on May 23, 2023
ISBN: 9781250284112
Length: 448 pages
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary Romance

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Formats Available: ARC
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Our rating:


Nora Roberts’ new book Identity delivers on all the tropey goodness I’ve learned to love and expect from her work – a scrappy, relatable heroine in Morgan Albright, a gruff yet swoon-worthy, respectful hero in Miles Jameson, lovely and well-fleshed out friends and family members in both the Jamesons and the Nashes, and finally, a happy (if hurried) ever after.

Morgan Albright is a young woman trying to support herself and her fledgling dream of owning and operating her own bar. At the beginning of the book, she’s bought herself a little house that she and her roommate, Nina, are fixing up (along with their yard and garden), and she’s working two jobs to build her savings and her business know-how. 

Being a connoisseur of Roberts’ work, I found the book’s infodump of Morgan’s backstory at the beginning unusual and a little perfunctory. It’s heavy with exposition, and the introduction tells us about (rather than demonstrates) the roots Morgan’s planted and the relationships she’s cultivated in her small community outside Baltimore, Maryland. 

Having said that, Morgan’s relationship with Nina is given a little breathing room, and this makes a huge difference. We get a good glimpse at their dynamic, which makes Nina’s death as the inciting incident later all the more heartbreaking. Roberts handles her death (and her family’s and Morgan’s resulting grief) delicately and realistically, reminding us again and again of the lasting impact violence has on loved ones and the surrounding community.

Although the practical effects of Nina’s death are handled well, I did find the villain and his modus operandi odd, honestly. As a romance reader, I’m always ready to suspend disbelief, but a serial killer who delights in stealing their victims’ identities first just seemed outlandish and cartoonish every time it appeared. It never quite felt real to me as a threat, and so the stakes never really seemed that high, even through the climax of the book.

What saves the book is the fact that the stakes don’t seem to be about the bad guy at all, but about Morgan reconnecting with her family in Vermont. Morgan deeply wants to belong somewhere after moving from place to place by her military father, who in addition to being an absentee parent was also a pretty terrible spouse. 

While Morgan wants to plant roots, she also watched her mother lose her sense of self in a bad relationship, and it’s Morgan’s need to be independent and her lack of understanding what her mother went through that made it difficult for Morgan and her mother to relate to each other. Their journey back to each other was a pleasure to read, as was getting to know Morgan’s spitfire grandmother.

But of course, I’ve saved the best for last: the romance. I always enjoy Roberts’ heroes and Miles is no exception. He’s a little impatient, practical-minded, and nerdy, and I particularly loved his reluctant fall for Morgan (and I especially loved the scene in which he really fell, which I won’t spoil – but it’s a goodie) because that always seems to make the romance more profound for me. I also appreciated the give-and-take between him and Morgan – Miles accommodating her need to be independent and Morgan letting him be the support she needs. Relationships built on mutual trust and respect are the sexiest, after all.

If there is one thing to complain about in the romance, it’s that the happily ever after comes very quickly after the threat is resolved. It’s true that Roberts doesn’t tend to linger after the suspense ends, but I do love an epilogue that is both well-earned and well-paced. Here, it mirrors the introduction: a little too quick and a little perfunctory.

Despite the rushed intro and outro and goofy villain, there’s a reason I rush to pick up every new Nora Roberts release and re-read my old favorites again and again. She’s a master at making me fall in love: with her characters, with the story, and with the experience of settling in and being comforted by a safe and sure read. Identity is absolutely one of those to fall in love with.

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