Friday, September 10, 2010
Roberts Rebounds: The Search
Reviewed by Doris
The last couple of Nora Roberts' romance novels have disappointed me. She has slipped into a pat formula format that has gotten predictable, boring, and stale. I did not really want to read The Search, but I knew I would review it for the blog so I took it home, mostly because there are dogs in the story. I am a total sucker for dogs.
Fiona Briscoe is like Césare Milan: she knows dogs. She trains them; she runs a search and rescue team. She has three wonderful labs, Peck, Bogart, and Newman. She lives on Orcas Island off the coast of Washington, and she has a past that has taken a long time to overcome. At the age of twenty when she was a college track athlete, she was kidnapped by a serial killer who had already killed twelve women. By her strength, cunning, and some luck, Fee manages to escape. The serial killer is eventually caught but not before he kills Fiona’s fiancé—a K9 officer—and his dog as punishment for Fee’s escape. Building on her love for dogs, the things she learned about handling them from her fiancé, and much hard work, Fee has found peace and built a good life on her island sanctuary. Then one fine day while she is running a training exercise for her search and rescue team, Simon Doyle shows up with his puppy so aptly named Jaws. Cranky and at his wit’s end with the rambunctious pup who has almost destroyed his house, Simon demands Fee’s help. Drawn to the irascible, sexy man (and the adorable puppy), Fee takes on training both the owner and the pup.
Soon the peace of her island and the inner peace she has fought so hard to achieve is shattered when a copy cat begins to kill young women exactly as did the killer from whom Fee escaped. From his prison Fee’s tormentor has found a disciple and set him on a path to kill the only woman who escaped. Terrified that the killer will not only come for her but for all she loves, Fiona Briscoe does not run. With Simon’s help and that of her dogs and other friends, she sets out to take down a murderer.
I liked Fiona Briscoe very much. Of course she fits the formula of the heroine—smart, beautiful, capable, a little afraid of commitment. I found Fiona to have dimensions beyond what usually turns up in a Roberts’ romance. I liked her approach to the dogs (she gives some great training tips). I like how she chose to rebuild her life by doing something as remarkable as search and rescue with her boys (the dogs), and I liked her prickly relationship with Simon and how that pulls her in falling in love again.
I also liked Simon. While he is handsome, sexy, and brilliantly talented, he is also cranky, fussy, ridiculously private, and exasperated with people most of the time. He keeps telling Fee she is not his type and he has no intention of getting involved. He is fully aware that Fiona is training him as much as she is training his pup, but somehow he finds that endearing instead of off-putting. His developing relationships with Fee and with his wild puppy are touching and humorous. In the end, he demands to be the hero, but Fee stands up to him and right beside him. Along with the boys, they make an appealing and lasting team.
The serial killer story is one that has been done a bunch. While there is still a lot of the Roberts formula in this book, the romance is very sweet and fun. The secondary characters, including Fee’s team mates, her stepmother, and her best friend Mai, are colorful and entertaining. The banter at which Roberts excels brightens the book and characters. And, of course, the dogs are just perfect!
Note: The puppy pictured above was at a local animal shelter. Looking for a new friend? Our local animal shelters have all breeds, colors and ages of dogs, cats, puppies and kittens. Go to www.petfinder.com and enter in a zip code to find adoptable pets in our area.