Thursday, December 22, 2016

Thoughts: The Witness

The Witness

by Nora Roberts

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  3.5 Stars

Daughter of a controlling mother, Elizabeth finally let loose one night, drinking at a nightclub and allowing a strange man's seductive Russian accent lure her to a house on Lake Shore Drive.  The events that followed changed her life forever.

Twelve years later, the woman known as Abigail Lowery lives on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks.  A freelance programmer, she designs sophisticated security systems -- and supplements her own security with a fierce dog and an assortment of firearms.  She keeps to herself, saying little, revealing nothing.  But Abigail's reserve only intrigues police chief Brooks Gleason.  Her logical mind, her secretive nature, and her unromantic viewpoints leave him fascinated but frustrated.  He suspects that Abigail needs protection from something -- and that her elaborate defenses hide a story that must be revealed.

With a quirky, unforgettable heroine and a pulse-pounding plotline, Nora Roberts presents a riveting new read that cements her place as today's most reliably entertaining thriller -- and will leave people hungering for more.

Considering how well Roberts' Cousins O'Dwyer trilogy turned out for me, I'm actually pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed The Witness.  Even in spite of a lot of things I didn't like about it.

To be brief:

Abigail/Elizabeth was a very fascinating character who called to my inner-nerd, and I found her very much a refreshing change from the always sunny, emotional, and righteous girl-next-door types always found in romance.  I loved how robotic Abigail was a lot of the times as she struggled through her social awkwardness.  I loved how straight-forward she was about conversation, taking everything literally until she's told that something was just "a saying" or "an expression" or something of the like.  I like how she then gets all, "Oh.  Yes.  This reference.  I understand it," then proceeds to explain her knowledge of that particular saying or expression or reference and why it works for the conversation she's having.

The storyline of The Witness was also intriguing and exciting enough, but I feel like it might have dragged into a contemporary for a good chunk of the book.  Sure, that danger that Abigail is in is still always lurking in the background.  And a whole host of other criminal stuff happens in the small town as well.  But it still felt dragged into contemporary, only realigning itself at the end of the book.

Meanwhile, the only big problem I truly had with The Witness was Brooks, his family, and how the romance is initiated.  The initial pushiness (and continued pushiness) of Brooks and his family, practically forcing themselves into Abigail's solitary existence, made me feel a little uncomfortable.  Granted, I suppose if Abigail had wanted to be left alone, moving into the outskirts of a small town was probably not the best way to do as much.

Even so, it just felt very much like our hero and his mother completely disrespected Abigail's wishes to be left alone, and completely ignored anything she said to them, even though they knew nothing about her or her situation.  There were the conclusive opinions about her being in trouble, or running from something, or being a cry for help.  All of it boils down to the fact that society has a problem with people just wanting to be left alone to live alone.  Just because she doesn't like to interact with others doesn't make it wrong; nor does keeping to herself consist of a wrongdoing.  And so Brooks' checking out Abigail's residence on behalf of the law is not justified--no one reported anything, and she committed no illegal acts.

And then when she tells him that she is in need of no help from him, and to please leave if he has no reason to be on her property, he plays it like she's hiding something.  Cannot a single woman's privacy and security in her own home be respected?  I felt like it was wrong of Brooks to force himself into her home or expect her to invite him.  You have your suspicions, go get a warrant.  Telling her that you're the chief of police and expecting automatic trust is also unreasonable.  She doesn't know you from Jack.

She has a damn good reason for being in hiding, or keeping to herself, and you go and internet stalk her like a rabid fangirl.  If that doesn't sound creepy, I don't know what it is.  Because even though he kept justifying his curiosity by saying that he's obligated to know everything about everyone in his town, as town chief of police, we all know that that's not true.  You're checking her background and running her fingerprints and DNA without a warrant; and that reeks of being illegal.

Anyway, rant ended.  Because on that note, I understand that all of Brooks suspicions about Abigail, while come to for all the wrong reasons, weren't unfounded.  And I understand that maybe Abigail DID indeed require assistance in her situation.  She is in hiding, and she is in trouble.  I understand that it was thanks to Brooks and his family that Abigail eventually gets her Happily Ever After.

But that doesn't negate the fact that Brooks pretty much forces himself into Abigail's home and her life, even against all her protests for him to leave her alone or she'll sic her dog on him.  And he even pulls some creepy-stalker shit while he's at it.

After I got over that little snafu of a build up to the romance, I think I enjoyed the book a lot more.  Not that it doesn't still bother me.  So I'm going to just settle with 'meh' pertaining the Brooks and the love story, because I still absolutely adore the non-standard characterization that is Abigail Lowery/Elizabeth Fitch.


2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Reading Assignment Challenge
Bookish Resolutions Challenge
Mount TBR Challenge

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