NORTHERN LIGHTS, Nora Roberts’s latest novel, is set in
Lunacy, Alaska, which has a population count of 506. The people in
this town are quite unique; if a storm hits the area, Lunacy shuts
down until the bad weather stops. This thought process is alien to
one of the main characters, Nate Burke. Nate is a police officer
from Baltimore who begins a job in Lunacy as the town’s Chief
of Police. He is hoping that the far-off setting will give him the
space he needs to recover from the death of his partner while in
the line of duty; he is haunted by memories of this incident.
Nate is immediately drawn to Meg Galloway, an independent pilot who
has her own set of rules when it comes to men. Complicating matters
is Meg’s mother Charlene, who has her eyes (and hands) on
Nate while he stays in her lodge. Nate tries to dissuade Charlene
(in a gentlemanly manner) while working hard to get closer to Meg.
Roberts creates a realistic romance between Nate and Meg,
portraying two people who are drawn to each other from their very
The minor characters in this novel are also interesting: Peach, the
dispatcher who makes cinnamon buns; Professor, the man who always
carries around a copy of a Henry James book; the Mackie brothers,
who have problems with alcohol and their tempers; and Hopp, the
woman who became Mayor of Lunacy after her husband died while
playing in a hockey game.
In addition to the characters, setting plays a central role in this
story. The harsh weather adds to the isolation that Nate and Meg
experience. The cold symbolizes the distance that they initially
keep from each other, while the eventual warmth between the two
represents the heat that is so essential to survival while facing
Lunacy’s harsh elements.
NORTHERN LIGHTS is not just a romance, however; elements of mystery
and drama are present throughout. There is a daring mountain
rescue, a murder, and the whole psychological process of Nate
dealing with his partner’s death.
Nora Roberts has written many books throughout her career, and she
has an impeccable talent for writing strong characters who readers
care about. NORTHERN LIGHTS is no different; Roberts undoubtedly
has another bestseller to add to her growing collection.
Reviewed by Melissa A. Palmer (Melissaenglish72@yahoo.com) on January 13, 2011