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When You're Rooting for the Grandmother and Hero to Get Together Something Has Gone Wrong...

Shelter in Place - Nora Roberts

Trigger warning: mass shooting depicted. 


This was such a weird romantic suspense book. Very little romance was to be seen/read about in this case. I ended up not really caring at all for the heroine (Simone) and fell in love with the hero (Reed) and thought that it made better sense for Reed to get together with the grandmother (Cici) in this one. I thought there wasn't much character development outside of Reed and his partner and friend Essie. Following the serial killer or spree killer I guess we would say reminded me too much of Robert's "The Search." There's even a similar subplot with the killer taking a reporter who had reported on the events hostage. Other than that, this is probably the first of her most recent standalone novels that I found to be good. 


"Shelter in Place" follows survivors of a terrible mass shooting at a mall in Portland, Maine. Three teenage boys end up killing almost a hundred people leaving lives changed. Roberts focuses on two of the survivors of this event, Reed Quartermaine and Simone Knox. Simone ends up losing one of her best friends and staying by the side of another. Reed sees a girl he had a crush on murdered in front of him. Both of them choose who and what they are going to be from that moment forward.

I loved Reed's development more than Simone. He ends up befriending a police officer named Essie who ended up taking down one of the shooters. From there he decides to go to the police academy. He wants to do some good. We follow him from being a rookie to eventually a detective and then police of chief. 


Simone kind of sucks. I felt for her at first, but as you read what she does through the years she is selfish and doesn't give her family any way to get close to her. She's very close to her grandmother CiCi but has shoved away her parents and her younger sister Natalie. Simone has also followed beside her best friend Mi (another survivor of the shooting) and realizes she is going to have to do some things apart from her. This takes her to Italy and then back to American again and has her becoming a famous artist. I get the character not wanting to be pigeon holed by what her family wants, but I definitely saw her acting like a brat a few times. 


We also follow a third person who was changed by the events at the mall, but in a different way. They are determined to finish what was started. Not going to lie, I started skipping over this POV after I got past the 60 percent point because it was not only repetitive but beyond ridiculous that this person was able to do what they did after a while. I don't want to say the real life FBI are more competent than this, but honestly it just pushed away any sort of realism when you read about what is going on. 


Besides these three, Roberts will shift from time to other characters. We get to follow a bit in CiCi's head, Simone's sister Natalie, Natalie's fiancee, and even Reed's former partner. 


The writing is typical Roberts, but the romance is scaled way back in this one. It felt a bit like she wanted to just focus on writing a mystery/thriller with very little romance. Which was fine with me. I honestly wish she had gone whole hog with it. I love mystery novels, you can have sex, but it's not the most important part of the book. It's the mystery and the lead character figuring out what is going on. Reed and Simone had no chemistry and he had chemistry for days with Simone's grandmother. I wondered at one point if Roberts toyed with the idea of them getting together. If they had, I would have given this book five stars.


The flow was up and down. After a while the book started to feel a bit draggy until we get to the "present day." I wasn't feeling Simone's story after we get past the shooting (she really was a brat) but loved Reed's the whole way through. 

The setting of this book is mostly Maine. I am honestly trying to remember if Roberts has set a romance book or romantic suspense book here before. I found myself wanting to visit again. I am a sucker for the beach and water.

The ending was moving and once again realistic again. I loved us going to a year later and seeing how things moved on.