Settling into a comfortable chair on a Saturday morning, I opened up my hardback copy of Nora Roberts’ novel Tribute, prepared to immerse myself in another excellent escape from one of my favorite authors. I was not disappointed.
The Little Farm had finally come into Cilla McGowen’s hands. The rural property that had once been the backdrop for Janet Hardy’s lush summer parties, and a get-away haven when the pressures of being a famous or even an infamous actress became too much. The place where her grandmother escaped to, and where it was believed she took her own life was finally, completely Cilla’s. Oh, it didn’t look so glamorous now. The house itself was falling apart, the barn behind it wasn’t in much better shape. The once beautiful gardens were clogged with weeds and debris. The pond where famous stars often skinny-dipped on starlit nights was full of overgrown lilies and thick with pond scum. Yet Cilla saw it for what it could become once again with time and a lot of effort, mostly hers. She’d been flipping houses for years now, she could do the same to The Little Farm – if she stayed beyond that or not, was yet to be seen.
There’s just something about a truly ugly dog named Spock. Ever see something just so darned ugly that it was kinda cute, that was Spock. But his master, now that was another thing. Ford Sawyer looked more like the super heroes he creates for his graphic novels…or comic books for those not familiar with the term, with a good ole boy’s charm and a lazy, devilish grin Ford sets out to learn more about his new neighbor across the road.
I liked the way Cilla and Ford’s romance developed. Steadily growing, pushed a bit here and there by events yet a constant building that felt to me totally natural for these characters.
As Cilla’s renovation work continues, word spreads quickly that Janet Hardy’s grand-daughter is back and returning The Little Farm to it’s past glory. The rebuilding requires several contractors to wander about the property so that several characters come naturally into the storyline. So naturally that not much attention is paid to them…at first. As the mystery of this story took a stronger focus, I found myself going back and re-reading some parts in the hopes of finding clues that I might have overlooked.
The lighthearted tone of the novel changes when Cilla discovers a packet of letters sent to Janet. Letters tenderly stacked and tied with ribbon, obvious mementos important to her grandmother. As she reads the aged letter Cilla is shocked to discover that her grandmother was pregnant when she supposedly took her own life and that her lover appeared to be a married man. Why would Janet end not only her own life but that of her child’s as well? Or did she…