The Search by Nora Roberts
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This is the first Nora Roberts' book I've ever read. I picked it up because it's a Romantic/Suspense (which I love), it involves dogs (which I love) and it had an overwhelmingly good review on both Goodreads and All About Romance.
If this is considered a good Nora Roberts book, then I don't think I'll be picking up anymore.
The basic story is of Fiona, a woman who escaped from a serial killer 10 years earlier, even though that killer managed to kill her fiance, and who has now moved to the islands in upstate Washington to create a new life for herself training dogs. Simon is a surly wood-worker who has recently moved to the islands himself. The issue? A copy-cat serial killer has recently started killing and Fiona may be on his list of victims.
Neither of our main characters are particularly likable. Both Fiona and Simon are prickly and obtuse characters. As much as I liked some of their banter, overall I didn't like either of them, and thus didn't really care too much about their lives or their romance.
And what about the romance? There isn't much. Simon seems puzzled by his attraction to Fiona, whom he considers to be not as "beautiful" as his usual taste. Fiona is, understandably, emotionally withdrawn and hides herself in her work with dogs and with her search-and-rescue team. Yet, when Simon drops in she tells him all about her past and her fears without any qualms.
Their relationship seems more grounded in the great sex they seem to have rather than any kind of emotional connection. Obviously Ms. Roberts is going for realism in a relationship in this novel, and that is all well and good, except it's not the reason I like reading romance novels.
Some of the emotional exposition Fiona is always rambling on about also drove me nuts. Firstly; no one says things like that. And very few people even think things like that through all the way. And secondly; there are too many of them and they slow down the dialogue.
A good novel should show you the characters' feelings and emotions, not tell you point-blank about them. And then continue to hit you over the head with them some more.
The mystery? Not bad. The overall plot device has been used before and isn't a bad one, yet here I just found it to be heavy-handed and caused the book to become more dense than it was. I ended up skipping the pages that were from the serial killer's point of view because by the end of the book there were too many of them and they really didn't add anything to the story.
The exposition of our main characters about this serial killer read like a poorly-written episode of Criminal Minds - and added nothing to either the book or their characterizations.
Some of the secondary characters were entertaining and well written, and the dogs are great, but a good pet/sidekick does not a good book make.
Frankly it took me almost a month to read this book, and I kept putting it down to read things in between. A good suspense novel shouldn't allow you to do that. By the time I neared the end I decided to finish it simply to have finished it, and not because I particularly wanted to.
Why only 2 stars instead of 1? Because despite all my complaints it is a well-written book. But not good enough for me to recommend.
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