In “Legacy,” author Nora Roberts takes us on an epic journey into the life of Adrian Rizzo. We meet Adrian at the tender age of seven when she first meets the man who is her biological father. He’s angry, drunk, and crazy and tries to kill her. He ends up dying. We learn a lot about Lina, Adrian’s mother, and how she started a fitness empire through determination and hard work. We see the town, Traveler’s Creek, where Lina grew up and where her parents still run the family business, Rizzo’s Italian Restaurant. They live in a beautiful house on a hill with gardens and mountains in the distance. It’s beautiful, and it’s where Adrian spends the summer after the horrific event with her father. It’s that summer that she makes friends in town, including her first best friend, Maya. Her grandparents teach her to cook, and how to pick herbs and vegetables in the garden. It’s that summer that causes Adrian to grow roots in the small town, and it becomes home. It’s not, however, her mother’s home or where her mother feels comfortable. Her mother couldn’t wait to leave Traveler’s Creek behind, and she hasn’t looked back since.
Time then speeds forward and quickly Adrian is almost seventeen. We focus in on her life just as her mother is preparing to travel for work. While they live in New York, Lina often travels. Adrian usually accompanies her mother and has gotten used to attending school online for weeks at a time when traveling. But finally, she decides that she wants to stay at her new school and get to know the other students instead of leaving for weeks to travel with her mother. She wants to start the school year in a normal manner, like the other kids. Her mother’s best friend, Mimi, has raised Adrian and now is her mother’s administrative assistant. Mimi and Harry, who does her mother’s marketing and publicity, and who both have helped raise Adrian, agree to help keep an eye on her.
While her mother is traveling, Adrian has planned on making her own fitness videos. Her mother’s company is Yoga Baby, and Adrian was the baby. She grew up making certain videos with her mother from time to time. But now she wants something of her own, and she finds the kids at school who can help make that a reality. The plus is that the group all become lifetime friends; the other plus is that by doing this, Adrian starts her own fitness group which she calls Next Generation.
But Adrian’s newfound fame with her videos also bring a new threat. She gets a poem with a death threat and those poems continue to arrive yearly every February. They are disturbing, but it doesn’t seem that there’s any immediate threat until many years later, when Adrian has moved from New York to Traveler’s Creek to help care for her grandfather after her grandmother was killed in an automobile accident. Her childhood best friend, Maya, has remained in town, and her best friend and business manager, Teesha, moves to Traveler’s Creek with her husband. Adrian has a group of close friends, and her family home where she lives with Dom, her grandfather.
The story moves at times at breakneck speed as seasons and years pass, while Roberts capably moves the plot forward, sharing disturbing scenes where the “poet” who has been sending Adrian the disturbing notes kills seemingly random women in different ways. Some are shot, some are stabbed or beaten to death. His glee and pleasure at their deaths is apparent. At the same time, we see Adrian, who has grown to be a compassionate and driven woman. She and her mother still have an unusual relationship. While they work together at least once a year for a production, they are not emotionally close. There is no hugging, no exchange of “I love you” phone calls.
But when the threats against Adrian escalate, Lina shows her true colors. Things between Lina and Adrian change, and it’s a believable and poignant change. Adrian has also begun a relationship with Raylan, Maya’s brother, who has experienced the loss of his wife in a tragic school shooting. There’s much more, but the book is over 400 pages long. So be prepared to dig in and stay connected to this lovely group of people. You will enjoy seeing the “kids” grow up, and you will worry as the once-distant and now-real threat comes after Adrian. Of course, because it’s Nora Roberts, we know we’ll get a happy ending. But not before some nail-biting scenes.
And I can’t not mention the dogs. Adrian rescues a Newfoundland and names it Sadie. Shades of my Great Pyrenees rescue who was also named Sadie. Of course, the fictional Sadie is way more intelligent than my huge white living stuffed animal who masqueraded as a dog. And just as we would expect, Sadie comes through for Adrian at the end. WIth her doggy boyfriend Jasper. So, you’ll love the dogs, too!
Want a great beach read? A book that will introduce people you will like and want to keep reading about? This one checks all the boxes. It’s not “just” a romance, yet there is plenty of romance; it’s not “just” a mystery, but there is definitely the mystery of who the poet is; and it’s not “just” a story about family and good friends, but there are plenty of both throughout the story. While it’s also about the lines that blur between good friends and family, in the end it is just a gripping, entertaining, and thoughtful novel. One you’ll think about long after you’ve read the ending.
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for review purposes.