THE BLOG
05/04/2013 03:49 pm ET | Updated Jul 04, 2013

52 books, 52 weeks, Week 18: Beached

As those of you who have been reading along with me since the beginning know, part of the reason I started this project was to get out from under the literary rock I was living beneath. And by that I mean: when I saw names like Patterson and Roberts and Coben on the bestseller lists, I did want to say "who?" but at least be able to say "oh, right, that guy."

So, now I've read a Coben, I tried to read a Patterson, and this week I've read my first Nora Roberts book, her current bestseller, Whiskey Beach.

Whiskey Beach is about Eli Landon, a lawyer turned writer (hey, like me!), whose almost-ex-wife was murdered a year ago (okay, not like me). Landon discovered the body and has been under suspicion for a year, but has not be charged with anything as the cops who are hell bent on pinning the crime on him can't crack the alibi his home security system gives him.

Still reeling from the loss and suspicion, when Eli's grandmother has a bad accident and can no longer care for her beach house, Bluff House, Eli takes up residence. He's come there to heal and write, and lucky for him there's a beautiful woman, Abra Walsh, waiting to cook and clean and perform massages to help him along.

Of course, while Bluff House turns out to be a great place to write, receive massages, and (perhaps) fall in love, it's not the sanctuary Landon thought it would, and the chaos that surrounded him in Boston follows him to the shores of Whiskey Beach.

So... first the good. Roberts, a woman who writes under at least two pseudonyms, (Nora Roberts is not her real name and she also publishes as J.D. Robb), does a good job of telling the bulk of the story from a man's perspective. I bought Landon as a man from the first page. She also alternates seamlessly between the various points of view in the book, occasionally from one paragraph to another. For instance, in one chapter the point of view shifts from a man who is about to be killed to his killer's. The transition happens as the man's life slips away and is a clever trick; for the scene to continue, someone must be narrating and so we get a glimpse of the killers without (sort of) revealing their identities.

And then, there are passages like this:

She slid her hands into his hair, and her own need spiked when he lifted her off her feet. She found herself on the counter, legs spread as he pressed between them, and a white-hot, glorious lust bursting in her center.

Or this:

"I keep thinking about sleeping with you." Actually, he kept thinking about tearing her clothes off and riding her like a horney stallion, but that seemed... indelicate.

Uh, did I stumble into a Harlequin romance?

I could go on, but the occasional purple sex prose wasn't the only an issue I had with the book, the main one being the plot. Haven't I seen this movie/TV show before? And not that a predictable plot is necessarily a no-no for me, but I couldn't help but think of the much better plotted and executed Gone Girl and Killing Jacob and wishing, ultimately, that I was re-reading them rather than reading this.

I don't mean to be harsh. I'm sure fans of Roberts will be pleased with this book. I just didn't make me one of them.

So now that I'm into my fifth month of this project, where do I stand with all of it? Well, I've read some great books, and some not so great books. My top 5 so far are:

1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: If this book doesn't make you feel -- and possibly cry in public -- there might be something wrong with you.
2. The Banks of Certain Rivers by Jon Harrison: The story and the excellent prose still stay with me from this one. You will cry, you will laugh, you will thank me for recommending it to you.
3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: An excellent study in suspense and narrative voice, it's also just a damn good book uniquely told.
4. The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers: Proof that you don't have to like every character in a book or agree with their choices to want to follow them through 400 pages.
5. The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick: The movie was awesome and the book was too. Relentless positivity in the face of tragedy and mental illness. It sounds like it wouldn't work, but it does.

So, onto next week, where I've picked Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins, which I've wanted to read for a while and which is sitting atop the trade paperback bestseller list.

Read on.