Monday and I actually have something to SBD about! Or at least to write about.
Okay, so the romance author whose books take up the most space on my shelves? Nora Roberts. But the majority of her keeper books on my shelves were written by her alter ego, J.D. Robb. I ❤ Eve Dallas. A lot of readers love that series because of Roarke, Eve’s gazillionaire husband who butts into all of her investigations. I happen to love the series in spite of Roarke, whose presence sometimes feels forced or shoe-horned into the plot.
Back to La Nora. I haven’t read her entire backlist, although I know most of it is available via Harlequin’s reissuance of all her old Silhouette categories. But I do still have what I believe is my first La Nora book: Luring A Lady, one of the Stanislaski sibling series. Generally, I like her single title romantic suspense novels , but the last several have been kind of ~meh~ for me. And her trilogies or series haven’t been hitting the spot either, so I was a little leery of her new release, The Search.
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 fiancé 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 in-tensely 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 the 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….
What do I think of the cover art? It suits the story, includes elements of it. I don’t know that it would necessarily catch my eye or draw my attention, though, if I were randomly scanning a bunch of books that were face up/out. But I suppose that the more important thing to note is that the title font is smaller than the font for the author’s name, which is a signal of her Big Name Author Status.
Why this book? Despite reservations, I downloaded a sample via Kindle. Then I had to go buy a hard copy on my lunch break — it was release day, you see. [Hard copy price with discount was cheaper than Kindle price. Will not pay more for an ebook than I can for a paper book. Just will not.]
What did I think? I was quite pleased with the book overall. While I enjoy suspense and mysteries, my primary criticism of the romantic suspense subgenre is the over-emphasis of suspense to the detriment of the romance. Not a problem here. There is no mystery about who the Big Bad is; the question is when/how will he be caught. Instead, the focus is on Fiona and Simon, and their relationship.
Plus the dogs. Don’t forget the dogs. I’m not a dog person — they are fun to play with but too high maintenance for me — but I really enjoyed the search and rescue portions of the book, along with the bits and pieces of training that go on. It’s fascinating how Roberts’ showed the personality of pet owners influencing the personality and behavior of dogs.
One of the reasons I keep reading Roberts’ books, despite the occasional clunker and use of certain stock characters and tropes, is her handle on dialog. The conversations between characters feel real and unforced, like things that my friends might say to each other. And her characters are human, not perfect. (Except Roarke, who’s not my favorite anyway.) I can’t think of a single TSTL heroine that Roberts has written. Which is saying something, since she’s written more than 180 books and I’ve read at least half of them.
The only knock I have is the noticeable, repeated lack of commas in short, declarative sentences (example: "No it’s not"). It was a little irritating, but that’s a relatively minor complaint compared to some of the typos I’ve seen lately.
Keep or pass on? Keep. It’s the best NR single title I’ve read in the last several years, since Midnight Bayou or Northern Lights, which were both keepers for me.
Random observation: Have you looked at any of the older publicity photos of Nora Roberts? It’s fascinating to see the change in styles. I see the same thing when I look through family photo albums, it just really struck me as I looked at the new photo on the back cover — same smile, but different hair and styling. Also fascinating to compare the different photos used for the different types of books she writes. Edgier styling and photographs for the Eve Dallas books, homier looks for the paperback series. All very classy, but with different tones.