I like to have multiple books going at one time and swap between them so I don’t burn out or get bogged down. But anytime I pick up a book from Nora, I just devour it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a new book or one I’ve read half a dozen times. There’s just something about her writing that is completely addicting to me, and I can’t put it down until I’m finished. The Collector was definitely no exception. Even though I’ve read it in the past, I somehow managed to forget a lot of the details, which is rare for me. So this felt almost like a new read, which was fantastic. And it just might be one of my favorite standalones from her.
“Fictional people are people, too, otherwise why would we care what happens to them?”
Lila Emerson is a professional house sitter and an author of young adult werewolf novels. She lives her life out of a couple of suitcases, and she’s just fine with that nomadic lifestyle. Until she witnesses a murder one night, and her life changes forever. The brother of one of the dead, Ashton Archer, tracks down Lila to get some closure on his brother’s death. Ashton is an artist, and an incredibly talented one. He’s also the linchpin for his incredibly large, incredibly wealthy family. Lila doesn’t quite know what to do with him, but she’s determined to help him solve his brother’s murder. This quest leads them on an intense journey through the art world as they search for a priceless piece of Russian art that disappeared over a hundred years ago.
“Love leaves a mark that doesn’t erase easily.”
I love the romance here. Lila is a modern gypsy, roving wherever life takes her. And with her little multitool, some WD-40, and some duct tape, she can fix just about anything. Ashton is very much locked down, with a gorgeous home in the middle of New York City that I could seriously visualize. He’s famous for his incredible paintings of women re-envisioned, but cooking and home repair are totally beyond him. Lila likes to make her own way and not depend on anyone. Ash is used to taking charge and taking care of everyone. Both are artists in their own right, but their temperaments and outlooks on life are vastly different. But they adjust to one another, and build a beautiful relationship. And there’s a secondary romance here that was just as adorable, between Lila and Ash’s respective best friends. The whole book and the four main characters were just so cute, that I smiled through the vast majority of the book.
“A man can own with ignorance, but can’t possess without knowledge. I know what’s mine.”
I also really enjoyed learning more about Russian art history. Something I always appreciate about Nora is her portrayal of art in all its forms, and the artists that create it. She has a wonderful way of describing paintings and sculptures and music and writing, where the care and creativity involved in producing it really shines through. She has a fantastic grasp on what it takes to create, and the feeling that creation inspires during the process. I’m just always so impressed with her descriptions and imagery, and how much heart she puts into her character. And there’s something about reading her work that never fails to inspire me, to make me feel like my dreams are achievable and that my talent and my life are enough. Some authors make me feel like less when I read their work, but Nora always makes me feel like enough and more. Which is why she will always and forever be one of my very favorites.
“Art is another song that must be sung. Whether the song is of woe or joy, of love or despair, of war or serenity, it must be sung.”