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Carnal Innocence

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Overview

Nora Roberts, bestselling author of The Reef and Genuine Lies, mixes scorching passion with icy suspense in her classic novel of murder and infatuation in a southern town—now available in hardcover for the first time.

In the small town of Innocence, Mississippi, days are long, nights are fragrant, and secrets are hard to keep. But when a brutal killer starts claiming the ...
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Carnal Innocence

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Overview

Nora Roberts, bestselling author of The Reef and Genuine Lies, mixes scorching passion with icy suspense in her classic novel of murder and infatuation in a southern town—now available in hardcover for the first time.

In the small town of Innocence, Mississippi, days are long, nights are fragrant, and secrets are hard to keep. But when a brutal killer starts claiming the lives of the town's most attractive women, lifelong neighbors are forced to wonder if the culprit is a stranger lurking in the bayou...or someone right next door.

World-famous concert violinist Caroline Waverly knows nothing of the murders when she arrives in Innocence. Burned out from a childhood lost to endless rehearsals and an all-too-public breakup with the conductor who was her lover, Caroline is looking for a little peace and some time to think. She hopes that a stay at her late grandmother's house—the one with a covered porch just made for soft summer nights—will provide the tranquillity she needs. But Innocence has something else to offer Caroline: a man named Tucker Longstreet.

Blessed with the Longstreet good looks, lazy charm, and family fortune, Tucker is a tall, cool drink of water—and he knows it. He likes to keep his romances short and shallow. But one look at Caroline, and Tucker realizes that she is unlike any other woman he's met. Tightly coiled and coolly reserved, Caroline is determined to fight him off. She might be able to do a better job if she hadn't felt an unexpected thrill at his ardent advances...and if she hadn't been so scared after finding a third murder victim in the murky waters behind her home.

For Caroline Waverly,a beautiful summer interlude could turn into much more—or could stir a killer's crazed dreams. Because there's just one small problem with her new romance: Tucker is the leading suspect in the killings.

A weary concert violinist, unable to endure one more grueling tour, looks forward to relaxing in Innocence, Mississippi, at her grandmother's secluded old bayou home. But the sleepy bliss is shattered formever one steamy summer night when a single spark ignites a deadly crime of passion. Original.

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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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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553295979
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/28/1991
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 354,948
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.87 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Nora Roberts was the first writer to be inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. The New York Times bestselling author of such novels as The Reef and Sweet Revenge, she has become one of today's most successful and best-loved writers. Nora Roberts lives with her family in Maryland.

Biography

Not only has Nora Roberts written more bestsellers than anyone else in the world (according to Publishers Weekly), she’s also created a hybrid genre of her own: the futuristic detective romance. And that’s on top of mastering every subgenre in the romance pie: the family saga, the historical, the suspense novel. But this most prolific and versatile of authors might never have tapped into her native talent if it hadn't been for one fateful snowstorm.

As her fans well know, in 1979 a blizzard trapped Roberts at home for a week with two bored little kids and a dwindling supply of chocolate. To maintain her sanity, Roberts started scribbling a story -- a romance novel like the Harlequin paperbacks she'd recently begun reading. The resulting manuscript was rejected by Harlequin, but that didn't matter to Roberts. She was hooked on writing. Several rejected manuscripts later, her first book was accepted for publication by Silhouette.

For several years, Roberts wrote category romances for Silhouette -- short books written to the publisher's specifications for length, subject matter and style, and marketed as part of a series of similar books. Roberts has said she never found the form restrictive. "If you write in category, you write knowing there's a framework, there are reader expectations," she explained. "If this doesn't suit you, you shouldn't write it. I don't believe for one moment you can write well what you wouldn't read for pleasure."

Roberts never violated the reader's expectations, but she did show a gift for bringing something fresh to the romance formula. Her first book, Irish Thoroughbred (1981), had as its heroine a strong-willed horse groom, in contrast to the fluttering young nurses and secretaries who populated most romances at the time. But Roberts's books didn't make significant waves until 1985, when she published Playing the Odds, which introduced the MacGregor clan. It was the first bestseller of many.

Roberts soon made a name for herself as a writer of spellbinding multigenerational sagas, creating families like the Scottish MacGregors, the Irish Donovans and the Ukrainian Stanislaskis. She also began working on romantic suspense novels, in which the love story unfolds beneath a looming threat of violence or disaster. She grew so prolific that she outstripped her publishers' ability to print and market Nora Roberts books, so she created an alter ego, J.D. Robb. Under the pseudonym, she began writing romantic detective novels set in the future. By then, millions of readers had discovered what Publishers Weekly called her "immeasurable diversity and talent."

Although the style and substance of her books has grown, Roberts remains loyal to the genre that launched her career. As she says, "The romance novel at its core celebrates that rush of emotions you have when you are falling in love, and it's a lovely thing to relive those feelings through a book."

Good To Know

Roberts still lives in the same Maryland house she occupied when she first started writing -- though her carpenter husband has built on some additions. She and her husband also own Turn the Page Bookstore Café in Boonsboro, Maryland. When Roberts isn't busy writing, she likes to drop by the store, which specializes in Civil War titles as well as autographed copies of her own books.

Roberts sued fellow writer Janet Dailey in 1997, accusing her of plagiarizing numerous passages of her work over a period of years. Dailey paid a settlement and publicly apologized, blaming stress and a psychological disorder for her misconduct.

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    1. Also Known As:
      J. D. Robb; Sarah Hardesty; Jill March; Eleanor Marie Robertson (birth name)
    2. Hometown:
      Keedysville, Maryland
    1. Date of Birth:
      1950
    2. Place of Birth:
      Silver Spring, Maryland

Read an Excerpt

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. Alongwith 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 Audio Cassette edition.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 325 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(168)

4 Star

(64)

3 Star

(56)

2 Star

(20)

1 Star

(17)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 325 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 1, 2010

    This is a REPRINT

    I love Nora, have read all her books (J.D. Robb) but please be aware that this is a reprint from long ago.

    11 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2010

    Not a new book...

    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.

    10 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2000

    It doesn't get any better than this!

    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.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 8, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    CARNAL INNOCENCE By Nora Roberts

    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!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2004

    READ THIS BOOK!!!

    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!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2000

    I WOULD GIVE 10 STARS, IF I WERE ABLE TO

    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!!!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 16, 2010

    Lazy Day

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2002

    WOW!!!!!!

    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!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2001

    Extremely Compelling!

    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!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2000

    COULDN'T PUT IT DOWN

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2000

    Very Entertaining

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2000

    The most thrilling murder/romance book ever written!!!!!!

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2000

    Excellent!!!!!!

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2000

    Mystery & Love....

    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!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 18, 2012

    Very good read. Page turner, did not want to put down! ONE OF MY

    Very good read. Page turner, did not want to put down! ONE OF MY FAVORITES

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2011

    Great!

    Like most of Nora Roberts books this one was great! I could not put it down. Loved it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 24, 2011

    AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"""" AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2008

    LOVED IT

    This was my favorite Nora Roberts book. I never guessed who the killer was. Loved the characters.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2008

    Loved it!

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2006

    Great, Great, Great :)

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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