Let’s look at the numbers: Nora Roberts has been writing since 1981. She has published, as of the writing of this post, over 225 books, and has over 500 million of them in print worldwide. She's spent a combined 948 weeks on The New York Times Best Sellers List, as of 2013, and was named one of TIME Magazine's 100 most influential people in 2007. Suffice to say, Nora Roberts is a legend.
Roberts is the queen of romance for a reason, with countless adoring fans and an indelible influence on the genre she helped to popularize, but for new readers, her extensive back-catalogue of books can prove daunting. Where do you start with an author who has over 200 books to her name? Do you begin with book one and go from there? It doesn’t help that Roberts is a master of all subgenres of romance, from mystery to suspense to paranormal and beyond, and then there are the 47 books of crime fiction she’s written under the name J.D. Robb. It’s no wonder so many feel intimidated! But never fear: We have the perfect primer on hand to help you navigate your way through Roberts’s work and find the book or series that you'll fall in love with.
The Bride Quartet
Vision in White
If you've absolutely no idea where to start with Nora Roberts, jump headfirst into the Bride Quartet. Set in the hectic world of wedding planning, these four books follow a group of friends who are experts at creating the perfect wedding for others but are less adept at dealing with their own love lives. Vision in White is an especially good place to start because it features one of Roberts's most adorable romantic heroes: The socially awkward but ever-so-sweet nerdy teacher Carter! Everything you could want from a contemporary romance series is here.
Chronicles of The One
Roberts can do paranormal like the best of them, but her most recent foray into dystopian fiction has provided a much-needed injection of freshness into a flagging genre. Imagine Stephen King’s The Stand with greater focus on magic and you’re halfway there. Year One, the first in the planned trilogy, follows the immediate fallout of a devastating virus that wipes out billion of lives and revives a new age of witches, monsters, and demons in its wake. The series (there are currently two books out) breathes new life into dystopian sci-fi and isn’t afraid to marry a plethora of genres.
Romantic suspense is Roberts's bread and butter, and there are plenty of gripping titles to choose from in her extensive back-catalogue, but for our money, Whiskey Beach is a great starting point. After being accused but never arrested for the murder of his ex-wife, lawyer Eli Landon is looking for an escape. He finds a new home at Bluff House, situated above the eponymous Whiskey Beach, and finds a tricky companionship with Abra, a local woman of many talents. But there’s still a murderer on the loose, and the killer is determined to deal with Eli once and for all. Roberts crafts tension no one else, and Whiskey Beach is full of twists to keep you on your toes.
The Inn Boonsboro Trilogy
The Next Always
Want to experience Nora Roberts in pure power-move territory? Roberts, a Maryland native, bought a derelict building in the town of Boonsboro, renovated it into a celebrated inn (with each room themed after an iconic romantic couple in literature), then wrote a trilogy of novels about a family of handsome brothers renovating an inn in Boonsboro! But these are no mere promotional stories. The Inn Boonsboro trilogy has all the great markers of a Roberts romance: Tough but tender men who work with their hands (phrasing), feisty heroines, and a few unexpected twists! The loving attention to setting makes this trilogy a must read.
The Chesapeake Bay Saga
Four brothers, all adopted from the most horrifying childhood situations by the kindly Professor Quinn and his wife, find love amid the sea-swept shores of Chesapeake Bay. This saga of four novels takes on tough topics with Roberts's trademark skill, and offers a more hero-focused take on the genre. Prepare to cry a lot when reading this saga.
In the Garden Trilogy
For centuries, the ghost of the Harper Bride has haunted the halls of Harper House, singing lullabies at night to the family who have inhabited the mansion for generations. Now, a new trio of women are trying to unravel the identity of this specter. This paranormal-tinged romance has everything: Love, heartbreak, spirits, and gardening.
The MacGregor Series
Playing the Odds
Over the course of nine books and many novellas, the lives and loves of the MacGregor clan, stretching across generations, became one of the quintessential romance dynasties, up there with the Bridgertons! This is a loud, loving, and very entertaining family, so if you’re a fan of extended family sagas in romance, this is pure catnip.
One of her newer releases, The Witness sees Roberts firing on all cylinders. This romantic suspense has everything: A swoon-worthy hero, a compelling heroine, dealings with the Russian mafia, a plan for revenge, propulsive pacing, murder, sex, and surprises. It's kind of the perfect Nora Roberts book, so if you don't want to commit to a whole series of books or just need a stand-alone read, this one is ideal.
The Eve Dallas in Death Series
Naked in Death
One cannot recommend Nora Roberts without including her long-running and wildly successful crime series, written under the pseudonym J.D. Robb. New York Police and Security Department detective Lieutenant Eve Dallas is one of the city's finest officers, working in the Homicide Division in the mid-21st century. Having dealt with a brutal childhood, Dallas is determined to protect the victims of our near-future. Throw in some sci-fi elements, an unflinching gritty tone, and one hell of a romantic hero in the form of Roarke, and there's much to enjoy here, be you a lover of romance, crime fiction, or both. And there are 48 books to choose from!