River's End - Nora Roberts After reading a few too many lackluster, hard to get into and hard to stick with until the end novels this one reminded me of all the reasons I use to buy Nora Roberts books the minute they were released (can't do that anymore). Her characterization just grabs me from the first page and her books are difficult to break away from.

The book starts out when Olivia, the heroine, is only four and her storybook life with her beautiful movie-star mom comes to a horrific end. Olivia is the only witness to her mom's murder and her movie-star father, a coke-head with a jealous mean streak, is locked up for the vicious stabbing death. Olivia's grandparents raise her in the woods, secluded from prying Hollywood reporters where they all try to forget the painful events.

Olivia grows into a strong young woman but enjoys staying close to the woods and has pursued a living as a naturalist giving tours and helping to run the family tourism business. But when Noah, the son of the policeman who worked on the murder investigation, decides to write a novel on the events, Olivia must face up to the past while struggling with her romantic feelings towards the man dredging up the past.

I enjoyed this book from the beginning page until the end (despite the unsurprising "surprise" reveal). It has romance, murder, fantastic characterization and a sense of place that most writers don't bother creating.