Sunday, March 1, 2009

Birthright by Nora Roberts *****

Ahhh, now this is why I read romance! This was a great story, full of suspense, full of wonderful characters, and a joy to read. When La Nora is on, she is really really good!!

The story centers around an archeologist brought in when a developer unearths multi-thousand year old bones while building homes in a new neighborhood. The local historical society, working against the builder and the development, hires the archeology team, and Dr. Callie Dunbrook is one of the best in her field. Her ex-husband Jake is also one of the tops - and although their divorce was anything but amicable, her boss brings him on anyway.

There's another story here as well - one family in the area had their infant daughter stolen from them, and the girl was never found. Her older brother, Doug, has lived with the guilt and the breakup of his parents' marriage, and coped as an adult by traveling - staying on the road as part of his job. When he's in town, he stays in the apartment over his grandfather's used book store.

Lana is the local lawyer - a young widow with a son, she moved there after her husband was killed, to start her life over. Lana's also involved with the historical society, and has done a lot of background work on keeping the developer from continuing his work.

When Callie's face shows up on the news, talking about the antiquities and bones being unearthed in town, Doug's mother thinks she recognizes her - that she might be the stolen daughter.

So, while the archeological team is digging up the past - measured in thousands of years - Callie is working on her own past. Was she adopted? Was she the stolen child? Who was behind it, and are they still in business. Blood tests prove the inevitable: yes, she is the biological daughter and sister of the Cullens. And another part of her past, her relationship with Jake, is also analyzed and measured, as both go over the mistakes of the past and deal with their continuing attraction.

Meanwhile, Lana puts the move on Doug - in a big way. She has to convince him to ask her out, more than once, because he's not much into relationships - at least, not at first. It doesn't take him long to realize he's falling in love with her and with her son as well.

The third romance in the book is between Doug and Callie's mother and father, who divorced years ago but are brought together when they realize Callie is their lost daughter Jessica.

But someone doesn't want them uncovering the past - not the old bones and not the whereabouts and identity of those involved in the child-stealing ring either. So that leads to some threats, some vandalism - and 2 murders.

All in all, I really enjoyed reading this story, and I kinda wasn't expecting to! There was just enough suspense, and so much about all the characters, to make it a real page-turner. Not only was I interested in the suspenseful whodunit part, but I liked watching Doug make a 180 degree turn in his feelings, and the Cullens trying to resolve their differences, as well as Callie and Jake struggling to find a balance in their lives. I didn't guess whodunit before it was revealed - and the ending had a fun surprise in it too.

5 stars!

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