Carnal Innocence

Carnal Innocence

4.1 324
by Nora Roberts

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New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts provides a potent mix of small-town secrets, scandalous romance, and down-home Southern atmosphere as a young woman searching for some bayou R&R finds herself entangled in a serial killer’s wicked web.
Burned out and still reeling from a love affair gone bad, world-class violinist

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New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts provides a potent mix of small-town secrets, scandalous romance, and down-home Southern atmosphere as a young woman searching for some bayou R&R finds herself entangled in a serial killer’s wicked web.
Burned out and still reeling from a love affair gone bad, world-class violinist Caroline Waverly goes to her grandparents’ home in Innocence, Mississippi, for some much-needed rest and relaxation. Instead she finds herself overwhelmed all over again—first by Tucker Longstreet, a charming local with a sideline in no-strings-attached relationships, and then by a deadlier, more disturbing development. 

For Innocence is being stalked by its very own serial killer, whose brutal knife blows have pierced the veil of tranquillity in this sleepy Southern town and left a trail of mutilated female corpses in their wake. When a federal agent arrives to investigate, the town’s deepest secrets bubble to the surface and suspicion turns on Tucker as the most likely suspect. After Caroline finds the latest murder victim floating in the murky waters behind her house, she too is inexorably drawn into the path of a crazed killer who may be closer than she could have ever imagined.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Roberts ( Genuine Lies ) plunks a pair of likable lovers into an equally likable rural Southern community; she then keeps the story from turning sweeter than blackstrap molasses by setting loose a serial killer. World-class violinist Caroline Waverly, recovering from a breakdown and an affair gone bad, arrives at her grandparents' house in Innocence, Miss., looking for peace and quiet; what she discovers is the naked, mutilated corpse of Edda Lou Hatinger. Only days earlier, Edda Lou had thrilled local gossips by publicly blowing up at Tucker Longstreet: he wanted out of their affair; she wanted marriage. Edda Lou is the third woman stabbed to death recently, so local police call in Matthew Burns, a federal investigator who specializes in tracking serial killers. In the meantime, Tucker decides to be right neighborly to Caroline, and after her initial resistance crumbles, she responds to his Southern charm. Tucker is on Matthew's list of suspects, and soon a fourth dead woman is found on the Longstreet family property. Caroline, too, faces the knife as she is drawn into a confrontation in which she learns who is behind the deaths.
Library Journal
Originally published in 1992, Roberts's tale of a classical violinist, wounded in love, who returns to her hometown and a dangerous affair, is in hardcover for the first time.
From the Publisher
"Roberts is indeed a word artist, painting her story and characters with vitality and verve."
Daily News of Los Angeles

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Random House Publishing Group
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Summer, that vicious green bitch, flexed her sweaty muscles and flattened Innocence, Mississippi. It didn't take much. Even before the War Between the States, Innocence had been nothing but a dusty fly-speck on the map. Though the soil was good for farming--if a man could stand the watery heat, the floods, and the capricious droughts--Innocence wasn't destined to prosper.

When the railroad tracks were laid, they had stretched far enough to the north and west to tease Innocence with those long, echoing whistles of pace and progress without bringing either home. The interstate, dug through the delta nearly a century after the tracks, veered away, linking Memphis to Jackson, and leaving Innocence in the dust.

It had no battlefields, no natural wonders to draw in tourists with cameras and cash. No hotel to pamper them, only a small, painfully neat rooming house run by the Koonses. Sweetwater, its single antebellum plantation, was privately owned by the Longstreets, as it had been for two hundred years. It wasn't open to the public, had the public been interested.

Sweetwater had been written up once in Southern Homes. But that had been in the eighties, when Madeline Longstreet was alive. Now that she and her tosspot, skinflint of a husband were both gone, the house was owned and inhabited by their three children. Together, they pretty nearly owned the town, but they didn't do much about it.

It could be said--and was--that the three Longstreet heirs had inherited all of their family's wild good looks and none of their ambition. It was hard to resent them, if the people in that sleepy delta town had churned up the energy for resentment. Along with dark hair, golden eyes, and good bones, the Longstreets could charm a coon out of a tree quicker than you could spit.

Nobody blamed Dwayne overmuch for following in his daddy's alcoholic footsteps. And if he crashed up his car from time to time, or wrecked a few tables in McGreedy's Tavern, he always made smooth amends when he was sober. Though as years went on, he was sober less and less. Everyone said it might have been different if he hadn't flunked out of the fancy prep school he'd been shipped off to. Or if he'd inherited his father's touch with the land, along with the old man's taste for sour mash.

Others, less kind, claimed that money could keep him in his fancy house and in his fancy cars, but it couldn't buy him a backbone.  When Dwayne had gotten Sissy Koons in trouble back in '84, he'd married her without a grumble. And when, two kids and numerous bottles of sour mash later, Sissy had demanded a divorce, he'd ended the marriage just as amiably. No hard feelings--no feelings at all--and Sissy had run off to Nashville with the kids to live with a shoe salesman who wanted to be the next Waylon Jennings.

Josie Longstreet, the only daughter and youngest child, had been married twice in her thirty-one years. Both unions had been short-lived but had provided the people of Innocence with endless grist for the gossip mill. She regretted both experiences in the same way a woman might regret finding her first gray hairs. There was some anger, some bitterness, some fear. Then it was all covered over. Out of sight, out of mind.

A woman didn't intend to go gray any more than a woman intended to divorce once she'd said "till death do us part." But things happened. As Josie was fond of saying philosophically to Crystal, her bosom friend and owner of the Style Rite Beauty Emporium, she liked to make up for these two errors in judgment by testing out all the men from Innocence to the Tennessee border.

Josie knew there were some tight-lipped old biddies who liked to whisper behind their hands that Josie Longstreet was no better than she had to be. But there were men who smiled into the dark and knew she was a hell of a lot better than that.

Tucker Longstreet enjoyed women, perhaps not with the abandon his baby sister enjoyed men, but he'd had his share. He was known to tip back a glass, too--though not with the unquenchable thirst of his older brother.

For Tucker, life was a long, lazy road. He didn't mind walking it as long as he could do so at his own pace. He was affable about detours, providing he could negotiate back to his chosen destination. So far he'd avoided a trip to the altar--his siblings' experiences having given him a mild distaste for it. He much preferred walking his road unencumbered.

He was easygoing and well-liked by most. The fact that he'd been born rich might have stuck in a few craws, but he didn't flaunt it much. And he had a boundless generosity that endeared him to people. A man knew if he needed a loan, he could call on old Tuck. The money would be there, without any of the sticky smugness that made it hard to take. Of course, there would always be some who muttered that it was easy for a man to lend money when he had more than enough. But that didn't change the color of the bills.

Unlike his father, Beau, Tucker didn't compound the interest daily or lock in his desk drawer a little leather book filled with the names of the people who owed him. Who would keep owing him until they plowed themselves under instead of their fields. Tucker kept the interest to a reasonable ten percent. The names and figures were all inside his clever and often underestimated mind.

In any case, he didn't do it for the money. Tucker rarely did anything for money. He did it first because it was effortless, and second because inside his rangy and agreeably lazy body beat a generous and sometimes guilty heart.  He'd done nothing to earn his good fortune, which made it the simplest thing in the world to squander it away. Tucker's feelings on this ranged from yawning acceptance to an occasional tug of social conscience.

Whenever the conscience tugged too hard, he would stretch himself out in the rope hammock in the shade of the spreading live oak, tip a hat down over his eyes, and sip a cold one until the discomfort passed.

Which was exactly what he was doing when Della Duncan, the Longstreet's housekeeper of thirty-some years, stuck her round head out of a second-floor window.

"Tucker Longstreet!"

Hoping for the best, Tucker kept his eyes shut and let the hammock sway. He was balancing a bottle of Dixie beer on his flat, naked belly, one hand linked loosely around the glass.

"Tucker Longstreet!" Della's booming voice sent birds scattering up from the branches of the tree. Tucker considered that a shame, as he'd enjoyed dreaming to their piping song and the droning counterpoint of the bees courting the gardenias. "I'm talking to you, boy."

With a sigh, Tucker opened his eyes. Through the loose weave of his planter's hat, the sun streamed white and hot. It was true that he paid Della's salary, but when a woman had diapered your bottom as well as walloped it, you were never in authority over her. Reluctantly, Tucker tipped the hat back and squinted in the direction of her voice.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Carnal Innocence 4.1 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 324 reviews.
fenris More than 1 year ago
I love Nora, have read all her books (J.D. Robb) but please be aware that this is a reprint from long ago.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Please don't call this a new novel. It was origally released as a mass market paperback in December of 1991. A good Nora Roberts book but not new.
Guest More than 1 year ago
WOW!! This book was awesome. Although this is my first reading by this author, it definately won't be my last. This story was consuming. I have never been to Mississippi, but this book took me there. The townsfolk were funny, and the story line was hotter than the Mississippi sun at noon! It is hard to resist the charm and temptation of good southern living even when a cold blooded murderer is in the midst. The surprise ending of this book was just as strong and enticing as the beginning.
poosie More than 1 year ago
This one had an explosive mix of mystery, humor and romance. I became attached to the believable, witty characters and the storyline was not predictable. You will never guess who the killer is! I recommend!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have never read a better book by Nora Roberts! She keeps you on your toes till the end! Right when you think you know 'who did it', she comes right back by surprising you once again! This book has it all! Romance,Comedy, and Murder Mysteries! This is my all time favorite book of hers, and I think it always will be. I've read it at least 3 times! You have to read it! It's a classic!
Guest More than 1 year ago
nora roberts had me from the first page of the book. i felt i was actually living in this book w/the characters. i remember feeling what an outstanding man Tucker Longstreet was, and wished i had snatched him b4 caroline had. i knew who the killer was after reading the 1st 100 pages b/c i know roberts style: the killer is someone you would never expect to kill. i am very proud of myself!!!
sofablue More than 1 year ago
This book took me longer to read than others. It could be the down home laid back atmosphere that provides the setting of the book. The ending is a bit of a surprise, and not too many clues were obvious in the beginning. I loved the main characters. And I like that their relationship took some time to develop. All in all a wonderful read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
All I can say is, I'm in love with Tucker Longstreet! His southern charm and laidback ways are absolutely adorable, and I find myself wanting him to exist in real life! I want to go to Mississippi and be swept off my feet by such a man! Wow, ladies, I promise you that you will fall in love! This book is the best I've ever read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A good friend of mine recommended me this book, and I was completely smitten with it. From the moment I started reading it, I was drawn into the plot and also the characters. An absolute captivating composition! I highly urge everyone to read this book. Nora Roberts' books are all magnificent and fascinating, but this one tops the charts!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was the first book I have ever read by Nora Roberts. It was a fantastic first experience. After reading the first chapter, I wanted to sit down and read it straight through. I was disappointed when I would have to put it down. It was a great combination of mystery and romance. The book held my attention from beginning to end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
it doesn't matter what nora roberts writes. i have read every book she has ever written and they are all equally the best reading. i have even read the books she has rereleased that were previously printed under a different name so no matter who she is do yourself a favor and read her books you won't be disappointed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book kept me woundering who is the killer. With a twist at the end you never would've thought that the person committing such horrific murders would be this person!! The book is also twisted with romance and true love. Which made this book even more intresting. I would have to say after you read this book you will continue to crave the writting of Nora Roberts.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Nora Roberts makes the charcters in this book so real. Its almost like the words come alive. This is only the second book i read by Nora Roberts and i plan on reading them all. I am in the middle of reading Montana Sky i love it already.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was my first Nora Roberts book loaned to me by a friend who knows I like mysteries. It's a good mystery/romance that was well written. This will NOT be my last book by Ms. Roberts!
angela_1876 More than 1 year ago
Very good read. Page turner, did not want to put down! ONE OF MY FAVORITES
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Like most of Nora Roberts books this one was great! I could not put it down. Loved it.
Melane Gustavson More than 1 year ago
Wonderful story and plot the mystery aspect is so VERY twisted and the romance is wonderful and steamingly amazing and hot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was my favorite Nora Roberts book. I never guessed who the killer was. Loved the characters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was hooked on this one right from the beginning. I fell in love with the characters, especially Tucker Longstreet. His southern charm and laid back attitude made him just lovable. I really liked Caroline too. I felt like I was right there in Innocence and even after the killer was revealed (which was a surprise twist) I found myself wanting to read more about the characters and the town. This has to be at the top of my list for Nora's books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Never doubt that when you are picking up a Nora Roberts book, you will be satisfied. Such a great writer. You would think that as fast as she puts them out, she would skip on details but not her. This book is no exception to her others. She well deserves the title of one of the greatest writers. She proves it over and over again. I have been please with absolutely everything that I have read from her.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best Nora Robert's books that I have ever read. It has a great plot, but I think the vivid characters are the real reason one can truly fall in love with every page of this book. They're so fun and interesting that you can't help but read until two o'clock in the morning. You're forced to finish one last sentence, one last paragraph, one last page... one last word. The southern feel of the book is unmistakably present. So I would highly recommend Carnal Innocence, because of its twists and turns, but mostly because it's just so wonderful.
Guest More than 1 year ago
At last count, I think there are only about 10 of Nora's books I haven't read, but this has to be my all time favorite. I must admit that the first time I picked up this book I got about 3 chapters in, was bored with it (it dragged a little at the start) and put it down not to pick it up again for over a year. The story is good, but it's Tucker Longstreet that truely made this a great book! He's so Insanely Adorable!! His sense of humor and his slow, laidback ways are very endearing. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is a Nora fan, you will not be disappointed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was so great i couldn't put it down. I was intrigued by the authors stunning and keen style of writing and the excellent romantic vibes throughout the chapters. This novel had me feeling the emotions of the characters while also trying to play the detective role of who's done it. This book is outstanding and totally worth the money and time !!! Please let me know if there is a sequel , thank you so much !
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of Nora's best books yet. I have read about 15 of her books and I find the ones set in the southern United States the best. All her characters have a real life to them and she writes so you feel like a part of the story. Look hard for the real culprit, the person is hard to find.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In the small, sleepy town of Innocence, Mississippi, a killer stalks beautiful young women. What do all these women have in common? Tall, sexy Tucker Longstreet. As the summer wears on and only gets hotter, Tucker becomes entangled with reserved, composed Caroline Waverly. Will Caroline become the next victim of Tucker's charm? Find out in this rustic novel by one of the world's most renowned romance novelists.