Author: Nora Roberts
Page Count: 436
Genres: Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romantic Suspense/Thriller
Blurb as on Goodreads:
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts comes Shelter in Place—a powerful tale of heart, heroism . . . and propulsive suspense.
It was a typical evening at a mall outside Portland, Maine. Three teenage friends waited for the movie to start. A boy flirted with the girl selling sunglasses. Mothers and children shopped together, and the manager at video game store tended to customers. Then the shooters arrived.
The chaos and carnage lasted only eight minutes before the killers were taken down. But for those who lived through it, the effects would last forever. In the years that followed, one would dedicate himself to a law enforcement career. Another would close herself off, trying to bury the memory of huddling in a ladies’ room, helplessly clutching her cell phone–until she finally found a way to pour her emotions into her art.
But one person wasn’t satisfied with the shockingly high death toll at the DownEast Mall. And as the survivors slowly heal, find shelter, and rebuild, they will discover that another conspirator is lying in wait–and this time, there might be nowhere safe to hide.
So first, a little bit of context: Nora Roberts is one of my all-time favorite authors ever!! And I’ve been reading her books since over a decade now. I could fangirl hard right now but for this post, I’ll just focus on this book.
Having read and loved a LOT of her books, I’ve come to expect a certain level of awesomeness from her. And this book did NOT disappoint.
I listened to the audiobook for Shelter in Place while reading my paperback copy and I really enjoyed it. From the very first chapter, it was intensely intriguing and very gripping.
The Plot & The Writing
This book relied heavily on the suspense rather than the romance. And while I would have liked the romance aspect to have been built up some more, it didn’t take much away from the rest of the story for me. Sure, the romance was lacking in the sense that there wasn’t enough time spent with the two main characters together (because we follow a lot of different characters in bits and pieces) to see their relationship/feelings/bond really develop and strengthen.
But I could see that the two characters kind of fit well together, with their shared traumatic pasts and an understanding and acceptance of each other. Yes, the romance could have been done better, but here’s why it didn’t bother me much:
Essentially, this was a story about survivors. It doesn’t matter if the people we’re following were at the mall at the time of the shooting or not. Families, friends, close ones, first responders who witnessed the devastation, chaos and loss firsthand, people lost, bonds forged. There is so much going on.
This isn’t a typical romantic suspense novel at all. This was more about a horrifying incident that happened and the havoc it wreaked and how it changed or ended or redirected so many lives.
It was incredibly intense and difficult to read at times but Nora handled the subject and consequential events so beautifully, following each character as they dealt with the aftermath of the incident and how it affected and influenced them. With her keen understanding of human needs and nature, I would expect nothing less.
I won’t go into detail about each of the characters as we get to follow several people and see how their lives have derailed, been irrevocably affected, or even set on a new path.
Lately, I feel like NR is gradually expanding her focus from the romantic tension between hero and heroine to include other characters as well, especially how they change after a tragic incident.
In some of her books these last few years, it’s not about an alpha male hotshot and a beautiful, smart, sexy woman and what happens when sparks fly. More and more, she’s touching on the deeper wounds and scars and strengths of the characters, not just leading up to a life-altering event but what happens in the aftermath.
Coming back to the mass-shooting incident that starts it all: It’s not just some event that is a part of the past that happened years and years ago. It just happened today, yesterday, last week – and now all those people have to pick up the pieces and try to rebuild and move on.
Shelter In Place was very different from Nora’s previous books, and I’m beginning to enjoy learning about this side of the human nature that she is now bringing forward: who do people become when faced with tragedy, insurmountable pain, loss and how do they cope? Does such an event change them or just break out their true self, hiding inside all this time?
It’s also fascinating to see the chain of events or the numerous little things that can add up bit by bit over time and set someone off on a dangerous path – and sometimes, it doesn’t take much to tip someone over the edge.
I really enjoyed the audiobook of Shelter In Place – listened to it on 2x speed. This story will stay with me for a long time, it made me feel things. I know it may not be for everyone but I hope a lot more people read this gritty exploration of human nature and what brings us all together in the face of a tragedy and makes us human when there are so many reasons to forget our kindness and compassion.
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Have you read this book or any others by Nora Roberts? Have you read any books with a similar premise? Let me know in the comments below and please like/share this post and subscribe to my blog if you’d like to see more content from me! Thank you!