The phenomenal #1 New York Times-bestselling author presents a novel set deep in the bayou of Louisiana-where the only witness to a long-ago tragedy is a once-grand house.
Declan Fitzgerald had always been the family maverick, but even he couldn't understand his impulse to buy a dilapidated mansion on the outskirts of New Orleans. All he knew was that ever since he first saw Manet Hall, he'd been enchanted-and obsessed-with it. So when the opportunity to buy the house comes up, Declan jumps at the chance to live out a dream.
Determined to restore Manet Hall to its former splendor, Declan begins the daunting renovation room by room, relying on his own labor and skills. But the days spent in total isolation in the empty house take a toll. He is seeing visions of days from a century past, and experiencing sensations of terror and nearly unbearable grief-sensations not his own, but those of a stranger. Local legend has it that the house is haunted, and with every passing day Declan's belief in the ghostly presence grows.
Only the companionship of alluring Angelina Simone can distract him from the mysterious happenings in the house, but Angelina too has her own surprising connection to Manet Hall-a connection that will help Declan uncover a secret that's been buried for a hundred years.
The thing about Nora Roberts is that once you're a fan, you're a fan forever. She has this incredible ability to draw you into a character's life, from their quirks and personality traits to their passions and professions to their fears and flaws. I remember every single character from every single Nora Roberts' novel I've ever read; they've stayed me through all these years, and I'm never hesitant to read and reread their stories over and over again.
Nora Roberts' books are little worlds wrapped up in pretty paper and catching titles. Her writing style envelops you, and you're literally sucked into whichever environment she's set up for you. One quality I've always noticed about these novels is that I always find myself wanting to go wherever the story takes place or to learn more about the ambitions of the characters.
I've been through Louisiana, seen the draping moss and experienced the oppressive humidity. It intrigued me, but never to the point that I'd want to stay for a while. However, after Midnight Bayou, I found myself dreaming about settling down in my own plantation house overlooking the bayou on the horizon, sipping iced tea on my own little shaded porch, enjoying the beauty of the mossed trees and the vibrant colors of the bright flowers that thrive in the South. Needless to say, the world building is incredible.
Nora gives us glimpses of the past, flashing back on the history of Declan's newly acquired Manet Hall. As a result, we get a feel of the pain of the house, the unresolved tragedies, and the truth of what drew Declan there in the first place. We get to know not only the history of the people who used to live in Manet Hall, but how they relate and affect the events of the present.
Like I said, Nora's characters, from villains to heroes and heroines, are always well developed, never leaving anything to be desired for readers. Declan is immediately the sexy, determined guy that all us females can't help but zone-in on. He's got baggage that he's not exactly proud of, but he's one of those guys that can't be anything but generous, caring, and down-to-earth, despite his rather prominent upbringing. He's adorable in his persistence and his straight-forward manner when it comes to Lina, and he really makes you wish that all guys were as honest with themselves.
Lina's quite the opposite. She's wary of anything that might be too good to be true, and she's very careful of who she trusts. She's fiercely independent, even more stubborn than Declan, and she's determined not to end up as a sobbing, heartbroken woman. But Declan surprises her at ever turn, matching her denial with brutal honesty that catches her off guard.
Their relationship... well, the physical aspect of it didn't delay, but the emotional side was a little rocky. Lina's wary, like I said, and while she's all about having a good time, she's definitely not for attachments. It had a quick/slow/quick feeling to it, taking three steps forward and two steps back, developing against all odds.
The core of the storyline itself... Wow. I love Nora's ability to weave history, murder, and ghosts into what could be considered a normal life. She makes it seem like any of her stories could happen to any of us. The murder, the tragedy, the lost love and how it all boils down to Declan and Lina is not what I expected when diving into Midnight Bayou.
I did feel that the resolution seemed... well, almost too easy compared to the obstacles that both of the main characters faced throughout the rest of the story, but it makes sense and brings the story to relieving and, as with all of Nora Roberts' books, happy ending.
Totally recommend :).