It’s not a secret that I like Nora Roberts, who occasionally turns out a dud but normally writes pretty solid relationship novels filled with a little magic and a fair amount of humour. Her new novel, “The Next Always” is the first in a trilogy following the three Montgomery brothers as they renovate a centuries old stone inn in their small town of Boonsboro, with it’s resident ghost, into a first rate bed and breakfast. Beckett Montgomery has been in love with Clare Brewster, since he was fifteen and felt he’d missed his opportunity when she left Boonsboro to become an Army wife. Ten years have past and Clare has returned to Boonsboro an Army widow with three small boys and a thriving bookstore, but Beckett’s feelings haven’t changed. As their relationship develops Clare rediscovers herself as a woman not just a mother and widow, so the themes of rebirth and rediscovery and taking chances on the future show Clare as a strong character in her own right.
The book is a light romantic romp and the scenes between Beckett and the Brewster boys are sweet and heartfelt. The addition of the ghost is a Roberts trademark and adds a little otherworldly touch , making for a pleasant read on a Sunday afternoon.