Thursday, July 22, 2010

Review: The Search by Nora Roberts

Number-one New York Times-bestselling author Nora Roberts presents a novel set in the Pacific Northwest, where an island provides sanctuary, the lush forests seduce the unwary, and a man and a woman find in each other the strength to carry on.

To most people, Fiona Bristow seems to have an idyllic life - a quaint house on an island off Seattle's coast, a thriving dog-training school, and a challenging volunteer job performing canine search and rescue. Not to mention her three intensely loyal Labs. But Fiona got to this point by surviving a nightmare.

Several years ago, she was the only survivor of a serial killer - a madman who stalked and abducted young women, strangled them, and left them buried with a red scarf on their bodies. As authorities were closing in on the Red Scarf Killer, he shot and killed Fiona's cop fiance and his K-9 partner.

On Orcas Island, Fiona has found the peace and solitude she needed to rebuild her life. Yet all that changes on the day Simon Doyle barrels up her drive, desperate for her help. He's the reluctant owner of an out-of-control puppy, foisted upon him by his mother. Jaws has eaten through Simon's house, and he's at his wit's end.

To Fiona, Jaws is nothing she can't handle. Simon is another matter. A newcomer to Orcas, he's a rugged and intensely private artist, known for creating exquisite furniture. Simon never wanted a puppy, and he most definitely doesn't want a woman. Besides, the lanky redhead is not his type. But tell that to laws of attraction.

As Fiona embarks on training Jaws and as Simon begins to appreciate both dog and trainer, the past tears back into Fiona's life. A copycat killer has emerged out of the shadows, a man whose bloodlust has been channeled by a master with one motive: to reclaim the woman who slipped out of his hands...

I started reading Nora Roberts's books a good eight or nine years ago. I had a crappy job that had a rotating schedule and I spent the equivalent of one week a month working the night shift, seven p.m. to seven a.m. Books saved my sanity then (and still do) and I couldn't have gotten through those nights without them. They were good times for me and books, those four years on the night shift. I discovered Nora, Sandra Brown, Janet Evanovich, and Tom Clancy among others but these are the ones that stick out in my mind. Now, I've never read a bad Nora Roberts book but I'm beginning to wonder if she's finally worn out her muse. Last year her new summer release, Black Hills, was a DNF for me. Talk about shocked! I figured that, okay, it was bound to happen since she's only written a million books or something and wrote it off as a fluke but The Search didn't blow me away and now I'm worried.

I'm not sure what to say about this book. I think I liked it since I liked it enough to actually finish it. I know that I flip-flopped between being caught up in the story and wondering what the hell Fiona and Simon were doing together. Most of the time, Simon was bitching to himself and to Fiona that he couldn't figure out why he liked her so much. Even stranger was Fiona appreciating him for it! Here's a bit from pages 187-88:

     She took a treat from Simon, rewarded the dog when he reached the top. "You just need to give him a little help figuring out how to walk down, keep his footing. Walk. That's it. Good balance. Good, good job." She rewarded him again at the bottom. "You do it with him so...What?" she demanded when she looked up to find him staring at her.
     "You're not beautiful."
     "There you go again, Mr. Romance."
     "You're not, but you grab hold. I haven't figured out why."
     "Let me know when you do. Take him up and down."
     "And I'm doing this because?"
     "He's learning how to navigate unstable footing. It gives him confidence, enhances his agility. And he likes it."
     She stepped back, watched the two of them play the game a few times. Not beautiful, she thought. The observation, and the fact that he just said it, should've been a flick to the ego - even though it was perfectly true. So why had it amused her, at least for the few seconds between that and his next comment?
     You grab hold. That made her heart flutter.
     The man incited the oddest reactions in her.

Simon incited the oddest reactions in me too. Sometimes I liked him, other times I didn't. Witnessing him being cranky and antisocial, I kept wondering why she would want him. I'm not sure that in real life, the sex would be worth the high maintenance man who doesn't want you to get too comfortable in his big, messy house. Maybe it's just that men that blunt and bossy tend to tick me off, even if it's misplaced worry and/or love. It finally came down to the realization that they matched. Simon pushed Fiona when she needed it and even bullied her sometimes. Obviously, the whole "tough love" idea really worked for him. Fiona, on the other hand, drew Simon out of his house and his workshop and got him to get over himself and accept that he loved her. BTW, I really want to see the sink he made out of that stump.

It wasn't just the issues between Fiona and Simon that bothered me - I wasn't too terribly affected by the villain. When it came down to the final showdown, he wasn't very scary. Yes, he was murderous and evil but he liked to talk to his victims a little too much and he came off as a whiny younger brother, sick of being suck in big brother's shadow. I agree with the reviewer from the link below about how the final third of The Search turned into a "typical suspense novel." This book went dogs, dogs, dogs, Fiona & Simon, dogs, and then Silence of the Lambs without the face eating but with lots of FBI. And it wasn't all that suspenseful.

I did like all the animal training info I learned. I've informed my husband that if one would use the guidelines and training rules Fiona uses in this book, then we are indeed bad pet owners :) Jaws, Newman, Bogart, and Peck, a.k.a. the dogs, were definitely the highlights of The Search. I'm thinking that I should probably run out and grab the newest J. D. Robb book, just so I can remember why I read Nora Roberts.

Where my copy came from: public library

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