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Sea Swept is the first book in the hugely popular Chesapeake Bay trilogy, later to become a quartet, featuring the Quinn brothers.
Cameron Quinn is a successful speed boat driver, living the champagne lifestyle of an international sports star, when he's called home to the bedside of his dying father, Ray. Ray and Stella Quinn had adopted Cameron and his two 'brothers' many years previously, rescuing them from troubled and abusive childhoods and raising them into the successful young men they have become. Ray, now widowed, has taken in another stray, Seth, and knowing that his days are numbered he is anxious that Cameron and his brothers should care for the boy.
Whilst Cam struggles to fit back into a more mundane lifestyle after the sophistications of Europe, and at the same time deal with a difficult ten year old boy, he runs up against Seth's social worker, Anna Spinelli, a woman with very decided opinions. Anna has been assigned to Seth's case to assess whether it is a suitable environment in which he could remain.
When Nora Roberts is on the top of her game, she is just about unbeatable in the field of romantic fiction and this first episode in her Chesapeake Bay trilogy is up there with the best.
She quickly introduces Cam and his two brothers, filling in their histories as she goes, whilst building up a picture of life in a small fishing community in Maryland. However, she doesn't waste words on long descriptions but gets down to the nitty-gritty of the story pretty quickly.
The death of a parent is always traumatic and Nora Roberts handles Ray's death very well. She doesn't dwell on the mawkishly sentimental but still manages to get across the tremendous loss that is felt by the brothers. Ray and his late wife have been their salvation and they are now expected to take on that role with regard to Seth as well as try to combat some unpleasant rumours about Seth's parentage which are circulating the town.
Seth is a surly child but, again, we understand immediately why he is that way and can see beneath the surface to the frightened little boy. With the characterisation of Seth and the three brothers, it is clear that Nora Roberts knows and understands the workings of the minds of young men. So often female romantic fiction writers give men unbelievable qualities and attitudes in order to make them perfect heroes. (Anyone who has been on this planet for more than 30 years knows there is no such being,) Nora Roberts doesn't fall into that trap and gives her male characters feet of clay, making them all the more attractive for that.
I liked Cam as a character, and also his brothers. I had a slight problem with Anna though as she comes across as quite an aggressive type and to begin with I envisaged her as one of those in-your-face American women which made me less inclined to like her. Also her career as a social worker seemed much more relaxed than that of social workers in this country. Her caseload seemed very light and only involved Seth and one other. However, Anna grew on me as the story progressed and was definitely a good sparring partner for Cam.
Nora Roberts is very good at creating groups of friends and siblings and this book showcases brotherly love in all its manly gruffness and four letter words, even when, as in this case, those brothers share no common blood.
On the down side, nothing much happens in this book other than that, inevitably, Cam and Anna end up together, after the usual up-and-down sort of romance ride. It is very much character driven and very light on plot. The story of Seth is only partially resolved and will be continued in the other three books of the quartet.
There is also a very slight paranormal element which might turn some readers off. However, I felt it fitted in rather nicely with the story, especially as there is well-documented evidence that the newly bereaved frequently see dead loved ones, though I'm not sure they converse with them.
Another drawback is that Nora Roberts books can get a bit 'samey' and some of her characters tend to display very similar characteristics to each other, so much so that sometimes one hero or heroine can pretty much blend into another. This is especially so in her trilogies/series which can appear somewhat formulaic in that there is often a feisty one, a less dynamic one and one who needs to find himself. However, they are invariably attractive characters and they always have their happy ending.
Nora Roberts is well known for 'head hopping' in that she switches from one character's thoughts to another, often within the same chapter which can be a bit confusing.
Sea Swept is a good first episode in this series and leaves the reader wanting to to learn the in-depth stories of the other brothers.
The four books in this series are:
1. Sea Swept
2. Rising Tides
3. Inner Harbour
4. Chesapeake Blue
I have read and enjoyed all the books in the series and can recommend them as a good, light read. So come on all you romance lovers, put on your rose tinted spec and prepare to be dazzled.