Picks and Pans Review: Homeport
Dr. Miranda Jones, heroine of Nora Roberts's new romantic thriller, is one classy dame. With her flaming hair and cobalt eyes, she looks like a Celtic Amazon. She is an internationally renowned art historian. And in moments of peril, she displays all the cool of a female James Bond.
Trouble arrives when she is summoned to Italy by her wealthy mother to authenticate a Renaissance bronze known as the Dark Lady. What Miranda deems the real thing, however, turns out to be fake, which nearly destroys her reputation. Soon after, a priceless sculpture is stolen from the art institute she runs with her brother Andrew in Maine, another piece there is exposed as fraudulent, and a dear colleague is murdered. Miranda becomes emotionally estranged from her mother and Andrew is sinking into alcoholism, when—bingo!—the charming art gallery owner (and thief) Ryan Boldari steps up to help Miranda solve the riddles.
Despite occasional lapses into potboiler speak ("The midnight wind was bitter as a scorned woman and just as bad-tempered") and triteness ("United we stand, divided we rush to therapy"), Homeport is vintage Roberts. The prose is taut, the story is well researched, and the bodice-ripping sex scenes (minus the bodice) are steamy. Roberts, whose last bestseller was Sanctuary, is fond of titles that suggest refuge. After flirting with danger, that is just what her heroine hopes to find—home, herself and the man of her dreams. (Putnam, $23.95)