Romance novels have the reputation of being formulaic. This is not without reason, given that many romance novel writers’ churn out several books a year. It follows that the writers often develop a short hand with their readers which in turn can lead to a formula. Romance novels tend to unfold in a set way. The reader meets the couple, it is made obvious to the reader that they are meant to be. This is achieved by either has a mutual conflict to overcome or individual conflicts which keep them from being together. The conflicts are resolved and then the couple decides they are meant to be together and make it official. End novel.
When I pick up any romance novel, but particularly a Nora Roberts novel, I am ready for just this formula. The fun in reading these types of works for me lies in the details. Give me a good setting, fun supporting characters, and interesting personalities for the leads and I am happy to give you a few hours of my time. However, this time reading The Last Boyfriend the second book in the Inn Boonsboro trilogy, I was left strangely disappointed. Owen Montgomery is the middle brother and office manager without an actual office for the family construction company. He is organized to a fault and likes it that way. Avery McTavish is the owner of the pizzeria across from the Inn and has her sights on another restaurant across the intersection. Avery and Owen have been in and out of each other’s lives for decades, but the tenor of their relationship is about to change.
This is all as to be expected, but when it was time to introduce the main conflict for these characters to overcome it felt lacking. Avery has serious issues regarding her mother who ran out on her and her father many years before and makes an appearance(late in the novel) to disrupt what Avery has been building with Owen. Their main conflict is a lack of communication. While this plot line is true to life, it doesn’t make for very interesting reading. Also, the unspooling of the ghost storyline, featuring Lizzie, is also underwhelming. I am however hopeful for the final piece of the trio because we get more inherently interesting leads: Owen’s older brother Ryder and Innkeeper Hope Beaumont.