The Last boyfriend
by Nora Roberts
(Berkley, $16, PG-13)  ISBN 978-0-42524-603-0
**
Fans of Nora Roberts will recognize several themes in The Last Boyfriend, the second in her Inn BoonsBoro trilogy.  Rehabilitation of old buildings has featured in several books now, and the primary theme of lifelong friends becoming lovers is something for which Roberts has proven to have a fondness. Not since Shawn and Brenna in Tears of the Moon (way back in 2000), however, have they seen such a screwy pair as Avery MacTavish and Owen Montgomery.  At least Shawn and Brenna had chemistry.  And a plotline.

Needless to say, this part will be short.  Avery's mother walked out on her father Willy B (who, in this novel, reveals his relationship with Owen's mother Justine).  That being the case, Avery has commitment issues but nonetheless has always carried a torch for Owen, even though she apparently overlooked it for over two decades.  Enter Owen with his testosterone functioning, and all of a sudden the two are so hot for each other they almost consummate their newfound romantic relationship in a stairway.  After calling a halt to that, they decide to wait until New Year's, the point at which I suppose we hit our climax (no pun intended) in The Last Boyfriend, but one can't be terribly sure given the lack of anything much going on. 

There is the reappearance of the ghost Lizzie, who haunts one of the bedrooms in the inn.  She reveals several clues about her past during The Last Boyfriend, which amounts to all of the intrigue or suspense you're going to find.  The book wraps up with Beckett and Clare's wedding, which just drives home the fact that the recurring characters (Ryder especially) are the only things keeping The Last Boyfriend from utter yawn-dom.

I truly enjoyed The Next Always, the first book in the trilogy, though I could see where people who have no interest in architectural restoration or history would find the details dry.  I have an interest in both, so it suited me just fine. That said, the hashing and re-hashing of Owen's OCD and Avery's relationship phobia in this novel would have been something to overlook if not for the fact that nothing happens.  The inn is all but finished from the start.  There is no danger, next to no melodrama, and not one  mysterious occurrence. 

Nora Roberts is almost always a re-read for me, but The Last Boyfriend will gather dust on my shelf, even should I revisit the other two books in the series.  Thankfully, it does not keep me from looking forward to A Perfect Hope, the third and final book, which is Ryder's and Hope's story.

--Sarrah Knight


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