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…
Janet Hardy invaded Cilla’s dreams. Not in a violent frightening way, still it was surreal to be talking to your own grandmother about her life, her dreams and especially her death. When Cilla least expected it, Janet was there almost guiding her through the past, giving reasons, offering solutions if only Cilla could unravel the cryptic messages of her dream visitor.
Someone doesn’t want The Little Farm to be brought back to life…or for it’s secrets to be brought into the daylight. Yet the cast of characters that could possibly be that person is rather large, and challenging to figure out before the last chapter of Tribute.
Parts of The Little Farm are vandalized. An angry, grieving father takes potshots, both physical and verbal at Cilla. The farmhouse is broken into and the beauty of Cilla’s restoration is marred and destroyed. Yet she will not walk away from what she now considers her home nor from the mystery she must unravel.
As the vandalism escalates, Ford and Cilla are drawn even closer, their determination to solve the mystery of Janet’s death never wavers. Of course, her stubbornness at staying at The Little Farm and continuing her restoration, and Ford’s vow to protect her at all costs does produce some sparks between them, but I found that to be totally within their characters.
I don’t want to give away the ending to this entertaining novel. If you decide to pick up this book for your own reading enjoyment that is just totally unfair.
I found Tribute to be a wonderful read, with a mystery that did hold until the ending of the book. I guessed many times, I changed my guess several times and wasn’t entirely sure until the very end. The main characters were strong and believable..and even better, a bit quirky at times and isn’t that exactly like real life.
For those who enjoy Nora Roberts, this is a must read. For those that haven’t tried her books yet, this is a great one to get acquainted with an awesome author.
Tribute is available at Amazon and on Kindle