The Next Always
by Nora Roberts
Book #1 in the Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy
The historic hotel in Boonsboro has endured war and peace, changing hands, even rumored hauntings. Now it’s getting a major facelift from the Montgomery brothers and their eccentric mother. Beckett is the architect of the family, and his social life consists mostly of talking shop over pizza and beer. But there’s another project he’s got his eye on: the girl he’s been waiting to kiss since he was fifteen.
After losing her husband and returning to her hometown, Clare Brewster soon settles into her life as the mother of three young sons while running the town’s bookstore. Busy, with little time for romance, Clare is drawn across the street by Beckett’s transformation of the old inn, wanting to take a closer look . . . at the building and the man behind it.
With the grand opening inching closer, Beckett’s happy to give Clare a private tour - one room at a time. It’s no first date, but these stolen moments are the beginning of something new - and open the door to the extraordinary adventure of what comes next . . .
Beckett Montgomery is one of the three brothers who comprise the Montgomery Family Contractors. He's the architect and together they're renovating the old Inn BoonsBoro. Clare Brewster works right around the corner in her Turn the Page bookstore, a business she started after her husband was killed in action in Iraq. She returned home to be with family and in a community that would be helpful in raising her three young sons.
Beckett has had a crush on Clare since she was 15 years old but she only had eyes for her husband, Clint, at that time. Now, five years have elapsed since his untimely death and both find themselves drawn to each other. The whole town is watching the renovation and their burgeoning relationship (it's a small town).
There are so many light moments in this story. Whether it's when Beckett is interacting with Clare's boys or his banter with his brothers, I found myself laughing out loud on quite a few occasions. Clare also has two friends, Avery and Hope, to provide girlfriend moments that help us get a gauge on where she is in her feelings about Beckett. I much prefer this approach than having to read the musings going on in a character's mind. It makes for more interesting reading. The same is true with Beckett as he endures his brothers' ribbings as his relationship with Clare develops.
I happen to have a great interest in interior design and building construction so I cannot gauge whether the descriptions about the two are overly so in the story. I launched the website for the actual Inn BoonsBoro while reading about the construction and decorating, which provided real time visualization and made it fun. Some might find this shameless marketing but it does seem like it was more of a chronicling of a labor of love.
I liked the romance between Beckett and Clare but, quite frankly, the romantic scenes were curtailed more than I'm used to seeing in a NR book. There were far too few interludes between this couple and not just because of Clare's Mommy duties. However, the scenes involving Beckett and Clare's adorable sons were heartwarming and added to the romance.
This is a story you're going to like with characters you'd like to meet and hang out with. I like the start of this trilogy and cannot wait for the next two books.
The Next Always is available at: