"Naked in Death" - J.D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts) - 1995

The fantastic website All About Romance compiles a "Top 100 Romances" list every few years, based on science and reader opinions.  I always mean to send mine, and somewhere there's a Word document with 80-some books on it, but I never make the deadline in time.  I consider reading all 100 books a vague life goal, and I must say I've put a decent sized dent in it.  However, there are a few repeat authors that I've read once, didn't like, and don't feel the need to waste time on (Linda Howard I'm looking at you).  I read one Nora Roberts book, Sea Something or other...the 4th in a series of brothers, that was boring and typical and not great by any means. 

"Naked in Death" ranks pretty high (#19 in 2007 and #24 in 2010) - so when I came across this horrific metallic cover at the Goodwill, I bought it, despite plenty of misgivings.  I admit to near total ignorance about this series.  In fact, I didn't know much other than Nora Roberts was extremely prolific (so how can they all be good?) and that J.D. Robb was her pseudonym a la "Richard Bachman" to see if she could sell without name recognition.

My dumb ass didn't realize that "Naked in Death" was set in the future - so, I was all "air commutes and Autochefs, whhhaat??!" I can accept and even enjoy books set in the future when they are relegated to the genres of Science Fiction and Young Adult - but I don't believe I've ever read a futuristic romance by choice (narrow-minded, perhaps - but I don't like medievals either, a girl's allowed to have preferences).  Look at that cover, how can it not be cheesy?

Another strike against it, the BILLIONAIRE hero.  When did romance authors/publishers decide that a MILLIONAIRE is too run of the mill and easy to come by in real life to populate the pages of a romance?  Was this the first, can we pin it down to N.R. in '95?

Despite it's ranking on the Top 100 Romances, I feel "Naked in Death" is primarily a murder mystery, and the romance is secondary - which now that I'm thinking about it, is probably the definition of Romantic Suspense - a genre I tend to avoid at all costs.

The main character and heroine, Eve Dallas is a tough cop with no memories before the age of 8, who grew up in the foster care system.  She has short hair, great features, wears jeans and leather jackets - written 4 years before S.V.U - but come on - she's perfect!  How could I prevent that mental casting?

And as for Rourke, it's funny because I had to think of 90's Irish actors, so Liam Neeson, OBVIOUSLY. 

                  But that didn't stop this hilarious google image search:  "Handsome Irish Actors"


Sure, there's some good ones on there (and Brenda Fricker) but look close: far left, second from bottom - Bradley Cooper!  I guess he's just so incredibly handsome, geography ceases to matter!  

As I mentioned earlier, I don't read much romantic suspense, so I will admit a change of pace was interesting, if not exactly refreshing.  The murderer was pretty obvious - plenty of hints and foreshadowing.   Eve is a character you grow to care about - and  Roarke he cares about her, too.  It's just a damn good thing he couldn't possibly be the killer - because he was in a space meeting (yeah, you heard me, a meeting in space about a space station resort for the uber-rich).  How about that for an air-tight alibi? (Bad pun, I'm sorry, couldn't help myself...)

Overall, I didn't hate this novel.  I do hate the forceful language Roberts uses to describe kissing and desire - it feels dated, very much of the old school Judith McNaught variety, which is never very appealing to this modern reader.  Also, the 'future technology' feels dated, a hilarious concept in itself,  it's a 90's FUTURE -  a world before smart phones and thumb drives - don't worry though there's still tubes of Pepsi to quench your future thirst.

Just because I didn't hate it, doesn't mean I will read the 43 OTHER BOOKS IN THIS SERIES! 44 books in 17 years!  It's too many, it just has to be.