Sunday, June 18, 2023

Books: "Identity" By Nora Roberts


By Nora Roberts

St. Martin's Press; hardcover, $30.00; eBook, $14.99

Nora Roberts is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than 240 novels, including Legacy, Nightwork, The Dragon Heart Legacy Trilogy, The Chronicles of the One trilogy, and the #1 bestselling In Death series written under the pseudonym J.D. Robb.

There are over 500 million copies of Roberts' novels in print today, and her first bestseller was in 1991. Since then, her books have spent approximately 1,176 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, which is equivalent to 22 consecutive years of weekly bestsellers. Her books have spent a combined 220 weeks at the number one spot on the New York Times list, while she also was named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People.

Identity is Roberts' latest novel, and it is a riveting thriller about one man's ice-cold malice, and one woman's fight to reclaim her life.

Morgan Albright is a former Army brat who has finally planted roots in a friendly neighborhood near Baltimore. Her friend and roommate Nina helps with her mortgage payments, as does Morgan's job as a bartender. 

Eventually, Morgan and Nina host their first dinner party, which is attended by Luke the flirtatious IT guy who's been chatting her up at the bar, and her carefully built world is shattered. 

The back door glass is broken, cash and jewelry are missing, her car is gone, and Nina lies dead on the floor. Soon, a horrific truth emerges: It was Morgan who let the monster in. "Luke" is actually a cold-hearted con artist named Gavin who targets a particular type of woman, steals her assets and identity, and then commits murder, which is his ultimate goal.

Morgan then receives chilling information from the FBI. Nina wasn't his type; she was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Morgan is who Gavin wants, and her nightmare is just beginning. 

There is no choice for Morgan but to flee to her mother's home in Vermont, and while struggling to build something new, she meets another man, Miles Jameson. He isn't flashy or flirtatious, and his family business has deep roots in town, but Gavin is still out there, on the hunt for new victims, and he hasn't forgotten the one who got away.

In this excerpt, Roberts writes of what Morgan and Nina had before their life was destroyed, "Her dreams and goals were simple and few. As a former Army brat, Morgan Albright spent her childhood moving across countries and continents. Her roots, directed by her father's work, grew short and shallow to allow for quick transplanting. From base to base, from house to house, state to state, country to country for her first fourteen years, before her parents divorced.

She'd never had a choice.

For the three years following the divorce, her mother had pulled her from place to place. A small town here, a big city there, looking for...Morgan had never been sure.

At seventeen, closing in on eighteen, she'd dug those roots up herself to plant at college. And there she'd explored those goals and dreams and choices.

She studied hard, focused in on a double major. Business and hospitality - choices that led directly to her dream.

Planting herself. Her own home, her own business.

Her own. 

She studied maps, neighborhoods, climate, while narrowing her choices on just where to plant roots once she'd earned those degrees. She wanted a neighborhood, maybe old and established, close to shops, restaurants, bars - people.

And one day, she'd not only get her own home, but her own bar.

Simple goals.

With those degrees hot in her hand, she settled on a neighborhood outside of Baltimore, Maryland. Old houses with yards, and, as yet to be gentrified, so affordable.

She'd worked her way through college, waiting tables, then tending bar when she'd hit twenty-one. And she'd saved.

Her father - the Colonel - didn't make her graduation. And though she'd graduated with honors, he sent no acknowledgment of her accomplishments.

It hadn't surprised her, as she knew she'd simply ceased to exist for him even before his signature on the divorce papers dried.

Her mother and her maternal grandparents attended. She hadn't known it would be the last time she'd see her grandfather. A robust seventy, an active man, a healthy man, he died the winter after her graduation. He'd slipped off a ladder. One slip. Here, then gone.

Even in her grief, it was a lesson Morgan took to heart.

He left her twenty thousand dollars and memories, as precious, of hiking the Green Mountains of Vermont on summer visits.

With the money, Morgan moved out of her tiny apartment and into a small house. Her house. One that needed work, but had a yard - that needed work.

The three small bedrooms, two tiny baths meant she could take in a housemate to offset the mortgage, help pay for that work.

And she worked two jobs. She tended bar five or six nights a week at a neighborhood bar, a happy place called the Next Round. Considering homeownership, she took a second job as office manager at a family-owned construction firm.

She met her housemate at the local garden center as she puzzled over foundation plants. Nina Ramos worked in the greenhouses and knew her stuff. Handy with a yard that needed help, Nina turned puzzlement into joy, and, in that first blooming spring in a house of her own, Nina moved in.

They enjoyed each other's company, and knew when to give the other quiet and space.

At twenty-five, Morgan had achieved her first dream, and by her calculations would reach goal number two before her thirtieth birthday."

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