Nora Roberts always gives her audience a "good read," and CAROLINA
MOON is no exception. Combining mystery, intrigue and romance,
Roberts examines an unsolved murder in a small southern town, and
the relationships that develop 18 years later when those directly
affected by the crime are reunited.
As a child, clairvoyant Tory Bodeen is abused and beaten by her
father Hannibal, a Bible-quoting fundamentalist who fears her gift.
Her only respite from this terrorization is the time she spends
with her best friend, Hope Lavelle. Although the girls come from
opposite social and economic ends --- Hope is the privileged
daughter of a wealthy farmer and socialite, while Tory lives in
poverty and abuse --- they are spiritual sisters. They share
secrets and adventures like any other pair of
Everything changes one hot August night. The girls plan to sneak
out of their houses after bedtime to meet for an adventure in the
swamp, a favorite hiding place. Hope reaches the swamp, but because
Tory has the misfortune to "see" where her mother has stored a
forgotten object, her father whips her with his belt and locks her
in her room as punishment.
With no way to reach her friend, Tory has another vision --- this
time of danger approaching Hope. She watches helplessly as Hope is
attacked, raped and strangled by an unseen man. Although Tory can
lead the police to Hope's body the next morning, she can't lead
them to the killer because she never saw his face. Not accepting
Tory's clairvoyance, neither Hope's family nor the police believe
that Tory wasn't really there, that she only saw the crime occur in
a vision. The murder remains unsolved, and soon after, Tory's
family moves away from Progress.
Eighteen years later, Tory returns to Progress --- the only place
she ever considered a hometown --- to open Southern Comfort, a gift
shop specializing in high-end South Carolina crafts. She becomes
reacquainted with Faith Lavelle, Hope's twin. Faith and Tory must
now redefine their relationship. When Hope was alive, Faith was the
outsider. Faith is still haunted by Hope's death and the self-image
that she was never as good as her twin. Her low self-esteem has led
her through two disastrous marriages and countless love affairs.
Paralleling Tory's return home, Faith must learn to accept herself,
and the love she has long denied Tory's cousin, Wade.
Tory also becomes reacquainted with Faith and Hope's older brother
Cade, and a new relationship develops. Cade doesn't blame Tory for
Hope's death and is not frightened or disgusted by Tory's
clairvoyance, but Tory has been hurt by such attitudes in the
Shortly after returning to Progress, Tory begins to have visions of
Hope's murder, as well as visions of other women being killed in
the same manner --- murders that are also unsolved. When a young
high school teacher is brutally raped and murdered, it becomes
evident that Hope's death was not a one-time event caused by a
passing vagrant, but the work of a serial killer who is still
living in their midst. Tory can see and feel the pain and terror of
each death, but she cannot see the killer. For Tory, solving Hope's
murder becomes the key to burying the past, moving on with her
life, and building a permanent relationship with Cade.
While Roberts handles interpersonal relationships adeptly, there is
one relationship she almost ignores --- that of Tory and her
clairvoyance. Throughout the book, Tory is clearly ambivalent about
her clairvoyance, but Roberts doesn't explore that in any depth.
There is no reference to Tory learning to deal with her gift,
either through the help of a mentor or self-development. At
different times during the book, Tory both welcomes and rejects her
visions, leaving the reader a bit confused as to her true feelings.
I would have liked more in-depth examination of how Tory learned to
accept the metaphysical, and how it affected her relationships with
Reviewed by Debbie Ann Weiner on January 21, 2011