Book Review: Birthright, by Nora Roberts

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Bring together an archeological dig, kidnapping, romance and murder and you have another hit from Nora Roberts—Birthright.

This novel is one of my top five favorites by Ms. Roberts.  I enjoyed every part of it.  Published in 2004, it has aged well, so that it could have been written last year.  The author has such a talent for combining a developing relationship with a solid mystery.  Her books are usually very well balanced between the two.  It’s a plus to know that for those who are not into romance, the mystery still makes the book totally worthwhile.

The Story

First a baby goes missing, stolen right from her stroller.

Nearly thirty years later a human skull is uncovered at a construction site in Antietam Creek, Maryland.  When the skull turns out to be thousands of years old, construction is halted on a site that already had its opponents.  An archeologist is brought in to check the site.

That archeologist is Callie Dunbrook.  What she finds will be history changing as well as life changing.

Thrilled with the importance of the find, her excitement fades somewhat when first her ex-husband, Jacob Greystone, shows up as the team anthropologist.  Next comes a woman who throws Callie’s entire past into question.  Soon enough, the town is involved with vandalism and threats against the crew at the dig on one side, and those who want construction permanently halted on the other side.

Then a body is found, drowned in the pond called Simon’s Hole.

What we end up with is a suspenseful mystery.  Someone wants them off the site.  Someone doesn’t want Callie digging into her past. And in it and through it is Jake, determined to get Callie back and keep her safe.  That might be possible if they can stop fighting long enough. The dialogue was great—I found both of them very appealing and likable.

They aren’t the only romance in the story either.  There are plenty of characters, nicely developed.  The relationships from the past and present are well handled and realistic.  We find a good selection of suspects too, between the unhappy construction team and those from Callie’s past.

An Excellent Blend of Mystery, Suspense and Romance

I love reading about archeology anytime.  Learning about the finds, the people who once lived there, and how the dig itself is laid out, worked and tracked, is all fascinating to me.  Ms. Roberts provides just enough of that so we understand what they are doing.

The mystery was excellent, to the point that I didn’t want to stop.  The pull between Callie’s past and the problems at the dig site keeps the suspense going throughout the book.  What is the killer after anyway?

Audio versus Book

I listened to this in audio.  The narrator was Bernadette Quigley.  I personally loved her narration.  I thought she handled the voice changes between characters very well, and  her voice for Callie and for Jake were well done.

However, reading the reviews on Audible, I was one of the few.  Many people did not enjoy the way she read the story.   I’ve listened to the book more than once, and still enjoy hearing it.  So while I recommend it in audio, I would suggest you listen to the sample first to see what you think.

If you are in doubt, get the book.  Birthright is a wonderful romance, a terrific mystery, and still a favorite of mine. It’s what I have come to expect from Nora Roberts.

Here is my favorite book by Nora Roberts is still Chasing Fire. You can read my review here.

Nora Roberts’ next book, The Liar,  will be released April 14th, 2015.  Another stand alone novel of mystery and romance that you can preorder here.


Merry Citarella, often writing as Merrci, writes on a wide range of topics. Recently relocated to the Oregon Coast in the northwest United States, she frequently writes travel features on the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She specializes in health and aging, Alzheimer’s Disease, food, lifestyle, and book reviews. For more information you can see her on The Writers’Door. You can read more articles here or at her websites Mystery Suspense Reviews .

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  1. Merry, another one added to the list of books my mom would like on Pinterest – sounds like it’s right up her alley

    • Thanks Barbara! I bet she would enjoy it. Hope she finds a lot of time to read. It’s quite a list you have going for her!

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