Nora Roberts: Shelter In Place

Outtakes 383

Nora Roberts

Shelter In Place

By Cait Collins


Every year I look forward to the release of Nora Roberts’ novels.  Last summer Shelter In Place hit the bookstores. I read until I fell asleep and was almost late for work a couple of mornings simply because I didn’t want to put the book down. This well-crafted novel keeps the reader on the edge and guessing until the end.

The initial setting came straight from the headlines. Shooters infiltrate a shopping mall in Rockpoint, Maine. An eight-minute rampage changes lives forever. But the story does not end with the shooting. Survivors had to go on living, but how do you live when those you love die? One took refuge in law enforcement. Another buried herself in her art.

As one year moves to the next, the survivors rebuild their lives, but one person is not content to let the horror end. As the clock races toward the 13thanniversary of the shooting spree, survivors begin to die. Reed Quartermaine, a police detective, feels there is something unfinished from that night. He’s restless and seeking. Artist Simone Knox plans a memorial for the victims. Will she live to finish it? The story keeps you hooked to the end.

The beauty of this Nora Roberts novel is in the setting. I could see some of those places as I had visited them. The names may have been changed, but I knew the settings. The architecture of the old village buildings brought back memories of living in Bangor. The scenery pulled me in to the story. The author allowed me to return to places I love and become an observer as Reed and Simone fight for their lives.

Nora Roberts is a favorite author. Whether it’s contemporary fiction, mystery, or fantasy, Ms. Roberts does not disappoint. I don’t recycle her books, I reread them.

Summer Reading

Outtakes 246

Summer Reading

By Cait Collins


Summer is upon us and it’s time to think about vacations and hours by the pool. Question is, what do you plan to read during the down time? Here are some suggestions.

Good For The Money                                                            Bob Benmosche

The Obsession                                                            Nora Roberts

The Highway Man                                                     Craig Johnson

What We Find                                                             Robyn Carr

The Trials of Apollo The Hidden Oracle                   Rick Riordan

Dark Hearts                                                                Sharon Sala

Lone Heart Pass                                                          Jodi Thomas

God’s Eye View                                                         Barry Eisler

Legends & Lies: The Patriots                                    Bill O’Reilly

15TH Affair (Women’s Murder Club)                         James Patterson

Coming Soon

Bay of Sighs Book Two of the Guardian’s Trilogy   Nora Roberts              June 14, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child                             J. K. Rowling             July 31, 2016

DragonMark                                                               Sherrilyn Kenyon       August 2, 2016 (Original Pub. Date)

Grab a book and enjoy your summer.


The Trilogy

Outtakes 222

The Trilogy

by Cait Collins



Take a seer, an archeologist, a magician, a navigator, a sprite, and a warrior, add a legend and an exotic locale and you have Stars of Fortune, book one of the Guardians trilogy. Nora Roberts is a master in writing serial releases. Her fantasy/paranormal romances are among my favorite reads. I got hooked on this line of her works when I read the Three Sisters Island trilogy. I have not been disappointed. What makes the trilogies good reads? It’s in the essential elements of the books.

Characters are the key element of the stories. Each person possesses special skill sets. In many cases, the character knows his primary talent. For others it’s a learn-as-you-go revelation.

E ach character has flaws. Despite their gifts, each one must overcome his weakness in order for the group to fulfill its destiny.


Unity is primary. All skills are necessary for success, but trust is essential.

Good and evil are clearly defined.

Actions or lack thereof are the choices of the character.

Magic is a respected gift that should not be abused.


Locales are exotic. Islands, gardens, forests, Ireland, and country inns provide setting. Bold descriptions make the story realistic. Local lore and customs ground the reader and allows her or him to become part of the story.

Romance is an element of the story, but it is not the story. Some of my friends view romance novels as silly and stupid. In their minds, it all about sex, But if the story were only about sex, it would become unbelievable. There has to be more than the physical response. In good romance novels, it is committed love that permits the characters to keep going when the odds are not in their favor. Love is glue that holds them together.

Friendships are cemented by love. Knowing that the members of the team are willing to fight and die for a cause frees the protagonist to step up to defeat an enemy.

Love is magic. With love all things are possible.

In skillfully combining these elements, Ms. Roberts weaves stories of bold deeds, causes won, and life fulfilled. And it leaves the reader anticipating the next installment of the tale. Even though the second book will not be released until late next year, the author will release a contemporary romantic suspense in April of 2016. And that, my fellow readers, is just one more jewel in Nora Roberts’ long list of successful novels. I wish I had her backlist.


Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Outtakes 173

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

By Cait Collins


Most folks in the United States joke about the local weather. In the Texas Panhandle we make comments like, “You don’t like the weather? Well, just wait five minutes and it’ll change.” Last night was a perfect example of Panhandle weather. It was a balmy 72 degrees when I walked into the grocery store. I walked out forty-five minutes later only to be confronted with 40–50 mile an hour winds an air temperature of 47 degrees. It went downhill from there. Hello winter.

The great thing about the cold weather is I have the perfect excuse to sit by the fire and read. It maybe my imagination, but the world seems quieter when it’s cold. It’s as if a sleep has descended, the imagination opens, and I can really get into the story. And there are some fantastic stories out there.

If you’re look for a good read, here are some suggestions.

Killing Patton, Killing Lincoln, Killing Kennedy                    Bill O’Riley

The Heroes of Olympus series (great for adults and kids)     Rick Riordan

Virtue Falls                                                                             Christina Dodd

The Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy                                              Nora Roberts

Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn                                       Mark Twain

The Longmire Series                                                               Craig Johnson

Son of No One                                                                        Sherrilyn Kenyon

Revival                                                                                    Stephen King


And if you feel guilty about taking a break from your writing, just remember reading is part of a writer’s job. How can we be good writers if we’re not good readers?

Happy reading.

Good Reads

Outtakes 157

Release 7-9-2014


Good Reads

By Cait Collins


Some authors have a unique ability to create a series of books based on a core group of characters in magical locations. The characters are something very special. They are people who have made their mistakes, dealt with the fallout, and moved on with renewed strength and purpose. In some instances, they are the people who have been given a bad hand and turned the nightmares into good productive lives. The skilled hand of the writer keeps these people from becoming cardboard characters.

Robyn Carr, Sharon Sala, Jodi Thomas, Carla Neggers, Julie Garwood, and Nora Roberts are among my favorite series creators. These women write women’s fiction or romance, but the style and genre are different.

For example, Robyn Carr writes contemporary stores set in small towns. Her Virgin River series is comprised of 18 novels set in Virgin River in the mountains of northern California. The people are what my grandmother would have called the salt-of-the-earth. Even the poorest lend a hand in times of crisis. Everyone pulls together. The stories move seamlessly from beginning to end. Her newer series set in Thunder Point on the Oregon coast, begins with a visitor to Virgin River who travels to Thunder Point to check up on an old friend. Again there is an easy flow from one setting to the next. I recommend both series.

Sharon Sala’s work takes a darker turn into the romantic suspense side. While there is a love story, the romance never overshadows the search for the criminal element terrorizing the town. Her stories are set in the mountains of Tennessee and Kentucky. After reading the first novel in Rebel Ridge series, the Searchers and Storm Front, I anticipated the release of the next book. Her novels are great reads.

Jodi Thomas is not only a favorite author; she is a teacher and a mentor. She’s been a friend to many writers in the Texas Panhandle. Jodi writes both historical and contemporary novels. Her historical works are based on the settling of Texas. The Whispering Mountain series was my introduction to her writing. Then she released her first mainstream novel THE WIDOWS OF WICHITA COUNTY. The story of a group of women whose husbands were killed in an oil field accident was so well researched and told. Jodi keeps a tight hold on the identity of the lone survivor of the accident. This is one novel I would love to see on the big screen.

In future Outtakes we will explore Carla Neggers, Julie Garwood, and Nora Roberts. But if you are looking for good summer reads, may I recommend Robyn Carr’s Thunder Point Series, Sharon Sala’s The Searchers Series, and the Whispering Mountain Series by Jodi Thomas.