Author Nora Roberts opening hotel she nearly lost to fire - Metro US

Author Nora Roberts opening hotel she nearly lost to fire

Tragedy, desire and a happy ending. A new Nora Roberts’ novel?

Close. It’s her new bed-and-breakfast, a luxurious getaway built from the charred remains of a 210-year-old hotel in downtown Boonsboro, near Roberts’ western Maryland home.

The eight, literary-themed rooms are furnished with items largely chosen by Roberts and purchased or made locally, reflecting her love affair with the little town that has become a destination for romance readers.

The best-selling author and her husband, Bruce Wilder, will welcome their first guests Tuesday to Inn BoonsBoro, nearly a year after an accidental fire destroyed all but the stone walls.

Roberts said she had dreamed for years of restoring the three-story structure, located across Main Street from the Turn the Page Bookstore Cafe that she and Wilder opened in 1995. The shop holds book signings that draw up to 250 readers to Boonsboro, a town of 3,400 that had no tourist lodging.

In 2007, Roberts and Wilder bought the former Boone Hotel and a nearby restaurant building in hopes of reviving the faded business district of what has become a bedroom community for workers in Washington and Baltimore, each about 60 miles away.

The hotel “was really in dire straits” but “I sort of had half the idea already in place – you could do a B&B, and the rooms could all be different and unique,” Roberts said. “And then, when we were able to get it, we just went forward with that.”

The $3 million renovation has made the hotel a decorator’s showcase in shades of tan, green and blue, with each room except the penthouse suite designed around a literary couple.

Lovers of “Pride and Prejudice” can choose the “Elizabeth and Darcy” room, done up like an English country house with a velvet chair and cashmere throw.

The “Nick and Nora” room, based on Dashiell Hammett’s “The Thin Man,” features Art Deco touches including a curlicue lamp that Roberts proudly proclaims she assembled herself.

The only room dedicated to a Roberts couple is the “Eve and Roarke” room, with Lucite chairs and other modern furnishings suggesting the slightly futuristic world of the “In Death” series, written under the name J.D. Robb.

All this luxury doesn’t come cheap. The price for a night’s stay ranges from $220 to $300. Packages incorporating massages, champagne or tours of the nearby Antietam Civil War battlefield are available.

Roberts, 58, and her downtown neighbours fully expect the B&B to fuel the tourist economy that has developed around her work. Paintings and photographs by local artists adorning the inn’s walls are for sale, and more are available at nearby Gifts Inn BoonsBoro, a shop Roberts and Wilder recently opened offering locally made art, crafts, soap and furniture.

“We have a deep well of talent in the area, and so we want to showcase that,” Roberts said.

Boonsboro Mayor Charles F. “Skip” Kauffman is deeply appreciative of what Roberts and Wilder have done for Boonsboro.

“They’re great people and they’re people of their word. They say they’re going to do something and they do it – and they’ve got the money to do it with,” he said.

With the B&B finished, Roberts said she’s eager to get started on a new J.D. Robb book – working title, “Fantasy in Death” – after a nearly three-week break from writing.

“I’m a writer who wants to write,” she said. “Come Tuesday morning – or Monday afternoon, if I can manage it – I’m back to work and all will be well.”

On the Net:

Inn BoonsBoro: http://www.InnBoonsboro.com

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