Life changed forever for an entire town when three teenage boys went on a shooting spree at the DownEast mall, killing and injuring hundreds of people. 16-year-old Simone Knox was the first 911 caller from where she hid in a bathroom and that defining moment has impacted the rest of her life. It took years for Simone to settle and find herself after tragedy and now she’s happy living on Tranquility Island with her beloved grandmother CiCi. But it’s not until Simone meets Reed Quartermaine, another survivor of DownEast who has moved to the island as the new Chief of Police, that she truly finds peace.
I was quickly sucked into Shelter in Place and it had everything I love from Nora Roberts. This one falls into her saga type books where the reader goes through years with the characters as they grow and change. In fact, Simone and Reed don’t even meet each other until almost 50% of the way in but I never felt bothered by that. It was fascinating to see how both were affected by the shooting and how it shaped their lives along with others who were at the mall. I actually would have loved even more tidbits into their lives before we got to the present day. There were several characters that we follow in the book and each one really helped build the main story surrounding Simone and Knox. Easily one of the best characters was CiCi who would just light up the page every time.
Reed was your typical Nora Roberts hero, he’s charming, smart, dedicated, and completely in love with the heroine from the first time he sees her. As a long time fan of Roberts’ heroes, I enjoyed every second and practically lost my heart with the addition of an adorable dog, Barney. Reed was the perfect match for Simone as he helped her come out of her shell, find relief from her guilt, and accept her for exactly who she was. Simone has always moved to the beat of her own drum and that’s made things tough with her more traditional family but CiCi has always been her solace and encouraged her love of art. Of all the DownEast survivors, Simone has probably struggled the most with moving on so we see a lot of her grappling with the past.
I can’t lie, reading this one was a bit tough considering all the shootings featured in the news. But I felt like of any author, Roberts can and did pull off writing about this topic. Her more recent books have all been heavier and darker in content but her writing is as strong as ever. I was absolutely creeped out — in the best way possible — by the killer in this book. If there’s one thing Nora Roberts has always done well it’s writing a truly villainous character. I would highly recommend this book to any fan of Roberts’ newer books or anyone who loves suspense romance. It’s a long read at over 400 pages but well worth the time!
4 out of 5 stars
Mass shooting at a mall
Graphic violence and death told from killer’s POV
It was a typical evening at a mall outside Portland, Maine. Three teenage friends waited for the movie to start. A boy flirted with the girl selling sunglasses. Mothers and children shopped together, and the manager at video game store tended to customers. Then the shooters arrived.
The chaos and carnage lasted only eight minutes before the killers were taken down. But for those who lived through it, the effects would last forever. In the years that followed, one would dedicate himself to a law enforcement career. Another would close herself off, trying to bury the memory of huddling in a ladies’ room, helplessly clutching her cell phone–until she finally found a way to pour her emotions into her art.
But one person wasn’t satisfied with the shockingly high death toll at the DownEast Mall. And as the survivors slowly heal, find shelter, and rebuild, they will discover that another conspirator is lying in wait–and this time, there might be nowhere safe to hide.
Published by St. Martin’s Press on May 29, 2018
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