Book Review: Montana Sky

Montana SkyTitle: Montana Sky
Author: Nora Roberts
Publisher: Jove (Penguin Group USA)
Original publication: in 1996

This is a reissued mass market paperback edition. Montana Sky is the 100th book by Nora Roberts.

Date read: ~ June 25th 2013

After Jack Mercy’s death (not much of tears was shed over that), his three daughters, who have seen each other for the first time at the funeral, have to live at the Mercy ranch together for one year in order to inherit one-third of the ranch.
The eldest, Tess, is a screenwriter working and living in Hollywood. All polish and gleam, Tess finds it unbearable at first to live in cold, hard Montana.
The second daughter, Lily, is on the run from her abusive ex-husband, Jesse Cooke. In Mercy ranch – and Willa’s half-brother Adam -, calm and centered Lily finds peace and happiness.
The youngest, and the one who has lived her whole life in ranch, is Willa. She and Adam share a mother while she, Tess and Lily share a father. Hot-tempered and grumpy, Willa is more than mad to learn that her whole life is threatened by two strangers – half-sisters – she has never met before. (Jack has divorced his two previous wives when he learned that they had a daughter, and not a son. Willa’s mom died before Jack could divorce her.)
As if this arrangement wasn’t a hardship enough, there is a dangerous killer lurking around, mutilating cattle and more…

For her 100th book, Nora Roberts’ editor has suggested a book that is “like a trilogy, but in one book”. So we have three heroines and three heroes. But other than that, Montana Sky did not have the charm of Nora’s trilogies – no thorough acquaintance with the main characters, lots of gory details, and “hurried” (by Nora standard) romances.

I liked the characters well enough, but I didn’t build a strong, lasting connection like I did with Margo, Kate, Erin, Jude, Brenna, Cam, Ethan, Philip, Seth, Anna, Nell, Ripley, Mac, Emma, Laurel, Parker, Carter, Roxy, Luke, Caine, Shelby, Grant and so many other characters. It is weird that I didn’t connect with any of the characters. Maybe a bit with Adam because he sneaks up on your heart without you realizing it.
Because the stories of all three sisters had somehow to be told, each got considerably less attention than she would have in a trilogy or other standalone book. We got all the surface information but somehow we didn’t go deep enough for me.

The mystery element – well, I have developed a Nora radar long ago, and this time it even worked, so I guessed who the murderer was (pure instinct – call it Nora sense). Yet all the butchering and killing was gruesome enough for me to have disturbing dreams the next day. I mean, when people get killed in a book, my rational head knows enough to say “It’s fiction. Of course people get killed to keep the tension. Don’t worry, mind, it’s all fake.” But animal mutilations? Oh, gross. Suddenly it was so scary, so real. To top it off, it is set in the wilderness of Montana – cue ghost music. So my complaint would be it was too real.

The pacing was, as usual, flawless. Just enough unpredictable to keep me guessing when the next big thing will happen.
Nora’s prose has that warm, welcoming feel that envelopes you right into the story. It also fades into the narrative and the setting, so this time the language felt cold, sharp and worried.

Many readers have liked and loved this book. Me? I have to wash the remnant of scariness away with the mundane-ness of Kiss & Blog.