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Monday, May 14, 2007

Born in Shame

***½ Born in Shame by Nora Roberts. Contemporary romance. Re-read.

The third in this trilogy. I really wasn't sure whether to give it 3.5 or 4 stars.

Shannon Bodine is the 3rd daughter of Thomas Concannon, born "in shame" as the title says--the result of an affair while Maeve was pregnant with Brianna. Brianna finds Shannon's mother's letters to her father, that tell of her pregnancy, and she feels compelled to find the woman her father loved and their unknown sibling.

Meanwhile, when Shannon's mother is dying, she tells her about Thomas Concannon. So when Brianna contacts her, it's not a complete shock. She's not eager to become part of a family she never knew she had, but Brianna's open, friendly lack of pressure and the need to get away convince her to travel to Ireland for a visit.

There she meets Murphy Muldoon, farmer and lifelong friend of Maggie & Brianna. And they're apparently reincarnated lovers or something.

I have to tell you, I don't think there was any need for that. Shannon and Murphy could have fallen in love just fine without being compelled to by some long-dead lovers who'd screwed up and want another chance, thanks. I'm just really not a fan of that sort of plot, usually, because it makes me feel like they don't really fall in love--they're just following a preordained script.

I'm also unconvinced by the idea that blood relationships are all-important. To my mind, that's meaningless--what matters is the people you love, whether they're related to you or not. What saved this story is that both Shannon and Maggie agree with me.

Then there was Murphy. I'm not sure if Shannon should marry him or get a restraining order. He was definitely one of those heroes who will not take no for an answer. What kept him from being too alarming was that the other characters all trusted him and that Shannon herself seemed just exasperated with him, with its connotation of a hint of amusement, rather than angry or frightened.

And yet I got frustrated with Shannon's insistence on returning to a life that had nothing left in it that she wanted.

What saved the story was the growing family relationship and how the presence of Shannon interrupted the pattern formed by Maeve, Maggie, and Brianna. Instead of splitting them further apart, Shannon, in her unique position as an involved outsider, found the happy medium between conciliation and anger and facilitated the development of a healthier relationship for all of them.

It's worth reading for that, I think, after becoming invested in the other two books in the trilogy, but I wouldn't pick it up on its own--mostly because it hit 3 of my pet peeves. Definitely a case of YMMV.


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