Continuing our series looking at romance novels which have inspired and influenced writers, Virginia Heath reminisces about classic romance, Montana Sky.
I’ve always been a voracious reader and although I read other genres, romances have always been my favourite. However, there is one in the thousands I must have read over the years which sticks out in particular as a beacon because it is perfect. Montana Sky by the amazing and prolific titan of our industry Nora Roberts.
Granted, if you read the blurb it doesn’t sound like the ideal premise for a romance. One dead father and his three daughters, all by different mothers and virtual strangers to one another, forced to live together for a year in order to inherit. Throw in a twisted serial killer and a whole heap of resentment and it resembles a thriller. Yet it works brilliantly. It starts at a graveside with the best first line ever. Being dead didn’t make Jack Mercy less of a son of a bitch. I mean seriously! Talk about pick you up and throw you immediately into the action! Action, I hasten to add, which doesn’t stop until the final page.
The intrigue and pacing is phenomenal, a sheer masterclass in how to write a damn good book, and you don’t see the breath-taking plots twists coming. One in particular shifts the plot the full one-eighty and will leave you staying up reading far longer into the night than you intended, because you HAVE to know what happens next.
But the sheer beauty of Montana Sky is that it interweaves not one, but three separate and unique happily-ever-afters that build beautifully and in-keeping with the characters throughout, as each vastly different sister meets their exact perfect match.
And they are vastly different. Tess is an ambitious Hollywood screenwriter who is desperate to leave Montana, Lily is an abused wife on the run from her controlling husband who is grateful for a place to hide and tomboy Willa, who was the only child to grown up with the aforementioned son of a bitch, feels betrayed that her dear old papa has foisted virtual strangers, albeit ones that she is related to, into her home. The heroes are equally as diverse. A lawyer, a cowboy and a mixed-race, gentle horse-whisperer called Adam Wolfchild.
I know some criticise Roberts for her head-hopping- and in this book there is a lot. Three heroines, three heroes, the baddie and even a few minor characters here and there. However, she shifts perspective with such finesse you don’t notice- yet you always know who’s speaking and they always have something important to say. They tried to make a TV movie out of it and failed miserably. Hardly a surprise really when one considers the astounding girth of the story. It would have taken twenty-four hours to effectively show the brilliance Roberts packs into 480 pages. Don’t let the thickness put you off though, you’ll whizz through the pages because it is wholly un-put-downable. Montana Sky is a blockbuster, a saga, a page-turning thriller and three romances all rolled into one. It’s an awesome achievement. My favourite book ever. In the twenty years since I first read it I haven’t found one to top it.
Whenever I recommend it to people (which I do lot!), they always come back to me without fail and tell me how much they loved it.
Then they always say the same thing. ‘That twist! Never saw that coming!’
Me either. If someone ever tells me I write half as good as her, I’ll die happy. Read it.
You’ll thank me.
Virginia Heath's latest release, His Mistletoe Wager, is out now. For more information about her and her writing, check out her website, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.