Review: Naked in Death by J.D. Robb

Posted June 10, 2015 by Jessica in Jessica, Mystery, Reviews, Science Fiction / 18 Comments

Review: Naked in Death by J.D. Robb
Naked in Death by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #1
Published by Berkley
Published on: July 1 1995
Genres: Mystery, Science Fiction
Pages: 316
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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In a world of danger and deception, she walks the line--between seductive passion and scandalous murder...Eve Dallas is a New York police lieutenant hunting for a ruthless killer. In over ten years on the force, she's seen it all--and knows her survival depends on her instincts. And she's going against every warning telling her not to get involved with Roarke, an Irish billionaire--and a suspect in Eve's murder investigation. But passion and seduction have rules of their own, and it's up to Eve to take a chance in the arms of a man she knows nothing about--except the addictive hunger of needing his touch.


For those of you who don’t already know, J.D. Robb is an alternate pen name for Nora Roberts. I only read my first Nora Roberts’ book about a year ago, and was—to put it mildly—pleasantly surprised.

I’d always assumed that Roberts wrote cornball Walmart paperback romances for-your-grandmother, and when I saw a new book with “Witch” in the title, I figured she had jumped on the paranormal train, but was curious enough to check it out.

It was kind of amazing.

And with about 30 seconds of research I discovered that rather than “jumping on the paranormal train,” it was more likely that Roberts can be held at least partially responsible for making books with paranormal elements so marketable in the first place. (<------Assumptions make you look stoopid. FYI.) I really liked this book. BUT. The too forceful, borderline abusive love interest whose aggression is attributed to his sheer maleness who I was expecting in that first Roberts’ book (b/c ’70s – ’90s bodice rippers you stole from your grandma’s stash when you were a teenager) . . . Well, he was hiding out here all along.

Roarke Nolastname (*rolls eyes*) is a smoking hot Irish self-made bazillionaire. Say that three times fast. Go ahead. Do it.

He’s also a textbook example of a male with abusive tendencies. I know this for FACT, b/c I volunteered at a battered women’s shelter while I was in college, and before a place like that will turn you loose in the facility, they educate you.

Based on that education, Roarke is one giant Red Flag: he has zero respect for personal space, he makes unilateral decisions about things any rational person understands are not decisions to be made unilaterally, he has fits of temper that involve grabbing, shoving, and shaking . . . Red flags . . . Red flags everywhere . . .

And maybe that’s the difference between a book written a couple of years ago and a book written a couple decades ago.

B/c NAKED IN DEATH was written nearly twenty years ago . . .

BUT it takes place in the only slightly distant future (2058, I think). So there’s this sometimes interesting/sometimes uncomfortable combination of modern/future ideals and innovations coupled with surprisingly old-fashioned tropes.

Like how our heroine Eve Dallas is as hard core and strong a female character as I’d expect to find in any recently published SFF or UF novel, who lives in a world with legalized prostitution (gov’t regulated and taxed, naturally), but who also falls prey to Red Flag b/c hot DAMN.

No, seriously. Hot DAMN.

I fell prey too. Like . . . completely.

And part of the reason for that is b/c Roberts does such a good job of developing Eve and Roarke that you understand why he’s a Red Flag, but know that he’d never actually cross that line (even though your brain and statistics tell you otherwise). They’re both damaged, victims of horrific childhoods who were made stronger in the crucible rather than broken. They understand each other better than anyone else ever could.

For real. You can see it, feel it.

Eve is the one woman who can change Roarke’s playboy emotional detachment, and the fact that she has no intention of doing so only makes it more plausible.

And that kind of masterful manipulation is what makes the other stuff easier to swallow.

B/c there is lots of other stuff. LOTS:

All of the secondaries are flat, stock characters. Instalust, which is believable, crosses the line into instalove, which is not. Eve’s a cop; Roarke is a “reformed” criminal mastermind. I could put together a very strong argument that Roarke is the main inspiration for Christian Grey (I considered writing a nontraditional review on that vein, but didn’t have the patience to follow through). And there’s CORN. Cheesy ’90s I’m-too-sexy-for-my-shirt corn:

“I thought this vintage would suit you. What it lacks in subtlety . . .” He turned back, offering her a glass. “It makes up for in sensuality.”


Also, if you are particularly sensitive to sexual violation, especially the sexual violation of children, NAKED IN DEATH is not for you. I say particularly b/c pretty much everyone finds the notion upsetting, but as far as this kind of thing goes, it’s not too bad. There is only one scene that I would label as graphic and it takes place in the context of an adult remembering past abuse, so if you aren’t particularly sensitive, it’s not any more unpleasant than any other mystery/thriller with psychos or whack jobs doing psycho/whack job things.

There are other things as well, but you get the idea. Not that it matters, b/c I LOVED it. If I was making a purely emotional decision about this book, I would be giving it at least four stars. Instead, I’m forcing myself to be rational (b/c the handful of times I’ve gone with my gut, it’s come back to haunt me).

It’s worth mentioning that I’m nearly finished with #6 after starting the series four and half days ago, and that speaks for itself, but I can also say that while IN DEATH remains a series with flaws, there are marked improvements, especially in the area of secondary characters.

SO. Definitely worth a shot in my humble opinion. If you’re intimidated by sci-fi, this is just sci-fi enough to have interesting gadgets and speculative changes in federal laws (like the aforementioned legalized prostitution). ALSO, if you’re into audiobooks, definitely, definitely worth a try, especially if you can pick them up from your library, and I’d imagine most would have them considering how popular and long-running this series is. I’m notoriously anti-audiobook (b/c ADD), but I started listening to NAKED IN DEATH while roadtripping, and it easily held my attention b/c just that good.

In Death:

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My name is Jessica and I live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I’m trying my hand at writing, but mostly I read. My favorite genres are Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, and the YA versions of those genres, but if there is a book of a different color getting lots of buzz, I’ll read it too, just to be informed. If I’m not reading or writing, I’m probably on Goodreads or Pinterest or baking blueberry pies because I love them.


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18 responses to “Review: Naked in Death by J.D. Robb

  1. Okay, so it’s not to Sci-fi cause that was my main concern as I am not a huge sci-fi person but I can handle gadgets, etc. It’s mainly when they are all out in space and talking way over my head about science things that I lose I have always wanted to try this series so I am putting this one on the list. 🙂
    Stormi recently posted…Review of Eeny Meeny

  2. I’ve always been intrigued by this series, but I confess my opinions on Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb have always been that she writes cornball weirdness (thankfully I wasn’t alone in that assumption!). Roarke sounds like a character that you can enjoy on a shallow level as long as you realize he’s fictional; as soon as someone acted like that irl, I’d be outta there. Kinda reminds me of that Tumblr truism that you can enjoy something and still realize it’s problematic. I’m very intrigued by your review for this one Jessica, so I may have to check it out!
    Danya recently posted…Review: Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron

  3. I’ve had this series on my TBR pile every since one of the ladies that work at a local used bookstore told me I must meet Roarke since I love Barrons from the Fever series. The lady is easily pushing 70 and she was drooling all over Barrons with me when I was looking for a hardback copy of Darkfever. LOL She said if you like Barrons you must read Roarke.

    I grabbed books 1-4 on audio in a sale a while back and I plan on starting the series sometime this year.
    Jennifer recently posted…Fandemic by Jennifer Estep

  4. This is my most favorite series…ever…and I have at least 200 of them on my shelf. I wasn’t convinced by book #1 but by #2, I was unbearably hooked. I read the entire series back-to-back three times and I never, repeat, never re-read books.

    Nora Roberts is responsible for me picking up a romance book a few years ago (I shunned all in the genre). I was blown away by how smart and interesting her stories are (those written after 1995 seem to be her best works). She grew up around men (only girl with several brothers) and is the mother of two sons (no daughters). Her skill is in knowing how to effectively craft male characters and that skill resonates in most of her books.

    This series is extraordinary, especially in her development of secondary characters. I’m hoping you stick with the series long enough to see this as fans of the series tout this as the biggest strength. I rated this book 3.5/4 stars when I first read it and when I finished the series, went back and raised it to 5 stars as it takes on a whole new meaning.

    Hope you stick with it.
    Jonetta (Ejaygirl) recently posted…Audio Review: Pray for Silence by Linda Castillo

  5. This is one of my favorite series, and is one of my favorite examples of actual character growth. Some books it is more minimal, but if you look across this behemoth series, it is huge character change. And since it is such a long series, those character changes seem much more plausible than your average romance. I mean, by book 39 or so they are completely different individuals, but in ways that make complete sense based on their relationships and their experiences. And the secondary characters really come along too. It is also a fairly interesting perspective in change in an author’s style, since this series has gone on so long.
    Erin Burns recently posted…OpenLibrary Review – Julie Garwood’s Crown’s Spies

  6. Yeah Jessica! I absolutely love this series, even after 41 books. I am glad you saw the awesome underneath your red flags, because these two are amazing together. And I love the secondary characters as well.
    Even re-reading this series keeps it good.
    Aurian recently posted…Duffy Brown – Dead Man Walker

  7. I finally picked this one up at the end of last year and I’d say my reaction was similar to yours. I do believe I actually went ahead and gave it four stars-so we’ll see if I later regret that 🙂 I haven’t moved forward yet- because of all the books! – but I definitely hope to. I’m glad to hear it gets better as you progress!
    Berls recently posted…Even White Trash Zombies Get The Blues by Diana Rowland

  8. I’m kind of intimidated by this series because there are so many books out, but knowing that you are listening to this series is a big endorsement… I know how anti-audiobooks you are.
    I’m going to check if my library has them, if it does I’ll give them a try.
    BookaholicCat recently posted…CATS-ilicious Thursdays

  9. Pili from In Love With  

    This is series I know I need to get for sure, even more when you say that all the red flags are there but the author manages to still make you fall HARD for the love interest!!
    Also glad to hear that the heroine was NOT trying to change the love interest ways, not trying to redeem him!
    Great review Jessica!
    Pili recently posted…BEA 2015 Recap – Day 3 Friday!!