Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Review of Naked In Death by JD Robb

Naked In Death by JD Robb

I am close to speechless. I had two authors I wanted to check out in 2011 because I'd heard such fantastic things about them....JD Robb and Nalini Singh. Well, I decided to start with Naked In Death, fully expecting to love it so much that I would become obsessed with the whole series and enter a Robb-reading frenzy.

I expected good quality writing, a suspenseful story, and amazing characters, especially Roarke, a hero who countless readers gush on and on about.

What I wasn't expecting was a bunch of the most incredibly disturbing topics in one book that I have ever seen in my life. Violent, bloody rape and murder, child abuse, child rape/mutilation, incest. Vile, foul, dark and disturbing images. I got a stomach ache reading this book, and it still isn't gone. Not only did Robb toss all these delightful topics into one book, but the reader gets to re-live the incestuous abuse not once, but twice, through two different characters' recollections of events. And top that off with Eve's nightmare case with the three year old being tortured and abused by her father...I don't think a prilosec is gonna fix this upset stomach.

Disturbing material aside, the book didn't impress me. The writing wasn't stellar. The futuristic setting was just blah. After recently reading some books with impressive futuristic world-building details (Ella Drake's Jaq's Harp and Julia Barrett's Captured), I was expecting something pretty cool from JD Robb. Honestly, it felt like a contemporary suspense story with a few interesting details thrown in for good measure. Nothing that great.

The characters? Eve is a bad-ass heroine--an alpha, tough cop who has risen to success in her department despite her horrible past--and Roarke is....well....a pansy-ass. He's a rich, pampered billionaire. I'm sure there is more to him and his history that will be revealed in later books, but in this book, I didn't see any of the hot Irish guy I was expecting. While Eve is taking down villains, investigating corrupt politicians, being stalked by a deranged murderer, and obsessing with the bloody and gruesome details of a serial killer, Roarke is.....

....putting out bottles of vintage wine to "breathe."

A lot.

Like, in every freakin' scene.

Oh yeah, he also likes to wear impeccable clothing and fly around on his super sonic jet and go "off-planet" for some wheeling and dealing.

Can you say metrosexual wuss?

In the final scene of the book, Eve is threatened with rape and murder by the killer, back-handed, punched in the ribs, head smacked against the floor, choked, and shot while she scratches, hits, kicks and punches her attacker, breaks his nose, bloodies his mouth and pins him to the ground. After she has already incapacitated him, Roarke comes running into the room, picks the near-lifeless guy up off the ground and slugs him in the face. Hee hee...well, gee, thanks for that! I think Eve had it pretty much under control..... Somebody's got big balls in this story, and it ain't Roarke.

I keep hearing about this sexy, Irish character. Huh? Not seeing it in this book, at all. I loved Nora Robert's Jewels of the Sun. Aidan was a super hunky, romantic Irish hero. I swooned every time that guy said something. Roarke might as well be from Zimbabwe.

And the attraction between Eve and Roarke? Totally not buying it. She's a scruffy cop, he's an elegant and sophisticated man. The instant sexual attraction between them is inexplicable, really, and the love that develops makes no sense. They hardly even know each other! Roarke is obsessed with Eve...why? Never quite sure, and at the point in the story where he admits he's in love with her I almost snorted out loud. Why would Roarke fall in love with her? I have no freaking idea, nor do I care to find out, since I will never read another one of these books.

The one positive thing I will say for Naked in Death is that the storyline was quite suspenseful, especially at the beginning before the icky factor got turned up. (Rape is a difficult topic for me, but child rape/incest is beyond horrifying.)

I have never given anything less than a "C" rating on my blog. But I just can't give this book a good grade. Thanks to an overabundance of foul and disturbing material, a wussy hero, lack-luster futuristic details, and an unbelievable romance, I am dinging this book. Ugh!

Grade: C-/D+

Another thing: Maybe the series gets better. Maybe Roarke grows a pair and loses his metrosexual vibe. But a series is only as good as its first book....that's the one that's gotta hook you. I'm not hooked....this one is a catch-and-release for me.

And now I need a mega-dose of some alpha-male hero action, and something light and fluffy to offset this read. Unicorns, rainbows, and maybe a Julie Garwood Scottish dude. Yep, that sounds good.

Not Feeling The Love,


Mandi said...

Roarke totally worked for me..I LOVE Eve and their attraction. It is...different...but I bought into it.

I liked the gritty world too.

I'll just keep Roarke for myself, okay? LOL

KMont said...


First of all, I'm so sorry you didn't enjoy this one! I haven't read any in this series, but like you have heard how great Roarke is. And the books. Heh. I think I'll still have to read it one day, but now I feel I'm prepared. I don't think I've ever read a negative review on this series. Gotta love it.

Amber said...

Aw...poor Roarke.

I really liked this series. I'm on the 3rd one now. The audio version.

One thing to remember, at least for me, is that this is a mystery series. It's not a romance. And violence against the main character (and others) is a genre expectation.

The incest didn't bother me. Maybe because I could see Robb using that as a reason Eve is the way she is. And having that echo in the case she's working on forces her to look at her life and emotional health.

I can totally see why it would bother you, though.

BethScharwath said...

Thank you!!! I felt like a mutant. I read the first 2 ROBB books when they came out years ago. Was very disappointed. Don't really intend to finish them.

Read Singh's Angels.
You'll think you've had a wonderful bubble bath. And everything glows. They can get gory but not gratuitous, and the rest of the story just washes all that away.

Penny Watson said...

Mandi....Roarke is all yours. No problem. Not even a beard could save that guy.

Penny Watson said...

Kmont--I like my men big, burly and alpha....lumber-jack style. No metrosexuals...yuck.

Penny Watson said...

Buriedbybooks....I understand romantic suspense is going to be gritty. But this book just kept getting worse and worse and worse...I felt like I needed to cleanse my brain with bleach at the end. I also think including really disturbing images (especially violence against children) is gratuitous and totally not necessary for a book to be suspenseful and entertaining. Excuse me while I go ride on my unicorn now. :)

Lori said...

Ahahaha!!! You made my day - I just spewed water on my monitor. A metrosexual pansy-ass? Haha!!

Anyway, what I loved so much in Naked In Death was one of the things you didn't - the social commentary and how you could totally see our world becoming this world.

So sorry you didn't care for it. But thanks to that, everyone can enjoy your review :)

Penny Watson said...

Hi Beth! Glad to hear I'm not the only one not in love with these....I feel mutant-like also. I will def. check out Nalini Singh's Angels.

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Penny - and here I've been wondering what I've been missing. Okay, got it, thanks very much. No need to go there!
I would not have made it through the entire book. You should see me run screaming when this sort of thing happens - I like toss the book as if it's cursed or infected with anthrax or something.

Penny Watson said...

Hi Lori...I think I need to accept my own severe wussiness and avoid darker stories from now on. I just didn't realize this book was going to be like that. *shudder*

Penny Watson said...

Oh my God, should have seen my face while I was reading!!!! I had a look of horror on my face, and my husband says "What are you reading?" and I sort of whimpered, and he said "Why don't you just watch some TV instead?" hee hee......

Aleksandra said...

Thanks for the review :) I was just about to buy this book, but now I'm not so sure.

Amber said...


I really do get why this bothered you. And I think this is a good case for all of the subgenre labels that usually annoy me. I wouldn't classify this as RS. I'd call it a flat out futuristic detective mystery w. a few romantic elements.

I think what lulled you in was the fact that a) It's Nora Roberts in disguise and b) it's read and rec'd by so many romance readers.

Sorry you were so bothered by it, though. You should go cleanse the palate with something light and funny. Jill Shalvis has a new one due out next week.


Penny Watson said...

Hi Aleksandra! If you can handle dark, disturbing subject matter and metrosexual heroes, then I'm sure you'll like this book. ;)

Penny Watson said...

BBB--I have not read Jill Shalvis yet, but everyone seems to love her books, so maybe I'll check them out. (Of course, everyone loved this freakin' book and I hated it, so that's no guarantee...I'll have to take my chances!).

Lindsay said...

I've tried her as JD Robb and as Nora Roberts, maybe I didn't find the right books but I really wasn't impressed at all. Then again, I'm picky about books. If I don't love reading it, then I'd rather be writing.

I don't do 'dark' books anymore. VC Andrews is about as bleak as I get. There was one book that I read in college that had a 'touching' rape scene. I even cried at the emotion of the guy and how confused he seemed to be. Then I decided to share it with one of my best friends. Not only did she hate the book but it made her sick. It was then that she sat me down and explained how she had been raped. After that it wasn't a plot point that could be glossed over and forgiven. It was real to me. Now I really can't stand rape of any kind in books or movies. You could say that I got wussy, or you could say that I was opened up to the reality and horror of things that I hope will never happen to me. Sorry for the soap box, just wanted to add it in.

Penny Watson said...

Hi Lindsay...there are certain things I just can't handle in any book I of the list is rape and violence against women, as well as violence against children. I'm not embarrassed to be a wuss about that stuff. I read for entertainment, and reading about those topics is not entertaining.

Aleksandra said...

I'm actually going book shopping tomorrow & many people told me to buy this one, but I still haven't decided if I will :) There are so many older books that I keep postponing buying them & this one is one of them & of course I can't get all of them ;) I actually still haven't tried Nora Roberts' books & I thought to start with this one ;) I'll just decide tomorrow ;) I didn't know much about the book, except that it's mystery, 'cause I usually try not to find out a lot about a book before I read it, 'cause I don't like spoilers, so that's why you're review kinda shocked me, but the Roarke parts made me laugh :) But, when I think about it, I can handle the disturbing parts, as long as the mystery is good & I'm in a mood for a book like that. After all, I got through The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo & I liked it a lot, although there were quite a lot disturbing parts... Plus, I like the description Buriedbybooks gave "futuristic detective mystery".

Aleksandra said...

LOL, I meant your review, not you're :)

Isabel Roman said...

I read maybe the first 10 or so in this series. I love recurring characters and futuristic settings and kick ass heroines. What I didn't like was the repetitve story lines about Eve (from where I stopped nothing was resolved merely dropped) and the murders. I used to read a lot of mysteries, and the best series always dealt more with the characters than the crime.

Haven't read Nalini Singh but have been meaning to.

Penny Watson said...

Aleksandra....there is a big difference between Nora Roberts and JD Robb! If you are in the mood for emotional romances, try Nora. If you are in the mood for gritty, dark mysteries (with pansy-ass heroes...hee hee!) then try JD Robb. They are very different! Good luck!

Penny Watson said...

Hi Isabel! I used to be addicted to mysteries, too. My favorites now (since I'm such a wussie) are the culinary mysteries with recipes in the back of the book...they are so much fun! And of course, paranormal mysteries like Jayne Ann Krentz's Arcane Society. I love those!

Hannah said...

Funny review! I never even got to meet Roarke--I think I made it to chapter 3 or 4 of the audiobook. Not all the mysteries I read are "cozies" but I just couldn't stomach this one.

Penny Watson said...

Hi Hannah! I heard a couple of folks say they had trouble with this one as an audiobook because you can't skim over the gross parts that way. Not worth it!

Aleksandra said...

Me again ;) I know there are differencies between her Nora Roberts books & J. D. Robb books. I like reading romances & I've seen a few of the movies based on the books & they weren't all that ;) although I know, they're not as good as the books, but I'm more of a mystery girl, so I bought it today :) When I'll read it, no idea. Probably when I'll be in a mood! By the way, I like culinary mysteries, too :)

Penny Watson said...

Hi have to check in once you read it and tell me what you think! I can't wait to see if you like it.

KT Grant said...

I think you're the first reader I know who didn't adore Roarke. He's my ideal hero ever, even though later on in the series he comes across as too perfect, always there to help Eve win the case with a bottle of wine on hand.

But how he makes me tingle still. I'd so rolling around with his metrosexual booty on his waterbed.

His favorite phrase is "go over". Suave my Roarke is. *lick*

Penny Watson said...

KB--As far as I can tell from book #1, Roarke is good for.....

1. Acquiring first rate coffee.
2. Providing well-aerated wine.
3. Punching guys out after Eve renders them unconscious.
4. Fondling buttons.

Hmm. You could do better.

KT Grant said...

and having fast cars and always being there to give Eve a new coat because she always rips her.

And most importantly... mind blowing sex.

Mines. Roarke is mines.