The Search by Nora Roberts
Why this one: I received an ARC and since it's been a while since I've read Nora Roberts I thought I'd move it up in the TBR pile.
Steam Level: Just about perfect
Blurb: 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 rescues. Not to mention her three intensely loyal Labs. But Fiona got to this point by surviving a nightmare...
Several years ago, Fiona was the only survivor of the Red Scarf serial killer, who shot and killed Fiona's cop fiance and his K-9 partner.
On Orcas Island, Fiona found the peace and solitude she needed to rebuild her life. But 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, however, is another matter. A newcomer to Orcas, he's a rugged and in-tensely private artist, known for the exquisite furniture he creates from wood. 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 his hormones.
As Fiona embarks on training Jaws, and 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...
My Thoughts: As I said it's been a while since I've read a Nora Roberts book. I think she is an incredible talent and I inhale her In Death series written by JD Robb. But as a LONG TIME reader of Nora Roberts, I finally gave up her series books as I found the characters in each of the three books were getting to be pretty rehashed. But I have always enjoyed her single titles. I just kind of lost track of which was a single title and which was part of a trilogy.
And as usual with a Nora Roberts single title, I really enjoyed this book. As you read in the blurb, Fiona has had a major tragedy in her life. But she didn't let it define her. Instead she's made a very fine life for herself as a member of the local canine rescue team and a dog trainer. She's a very good heroine and I liked her tremendously. When her past comes back to haunt her, she doesn't give in to the fear it would be easy to.
And Simon is just adorable as a hero. The last thing he wants is a "relationship". He is perfectly content to go on being a loner while crafting beautiful wood furniture. But when his mother gives him the adorable 'puppy from hell', he's reluctantly drawn into the Fiona's world. He desperately needs the dog training she offers. Fiona and Simon really 'get' each other. Simon doesn't offer Fiona sympathy for her difficulty, instead he is more a help for her with his practicality. And Fiona, though falling hard for Simon, gives him the space he needs and lets him move at this own pace in their growing relationship.
The mystery is good and tense and kept me turning the pages to see what was going to happen.
The secondary characters are also quite well developed and I loved the relationship between Fiona and her step mother, Syl, a local shopkeeper who sells Simon's work. They were very good friends who had the love and loss of Fiona's father/Syl's husband in common.
And I can't not mention the other secondary characters. I'm not a dog person. I'm a cat person. But when I found myself reading this book and thinking I just might want a dog after all, despite not really caring for dogs, you know the author has done a wonderful job in writing about them. Jaws, Simon's out of control puppy, is such a hoot and I haven't enjoyed reading about a dog as much as I did this one since Hairy, the Chinese Crested in Susan Donovan's Take a Chance on Me. And as well as Jaws, Fiona's own three dogs, Newman, Bogart and Peck are also great dogs.
And although I don't own a dog - don't think I ever will, I also found a lot of Fiona's dog training techniques very interesting and helpful. I think dog owners themselves will really find them useful.
I'm very happy that I read this book. It again reaffirmed that Nora Roberts is a one of the best in the biz.