Book Review: The Search by Nora Roberts

rip8peril1stThis is my second selection for Carl’s R.I.P. at Stainless Steel Droppings. I file The Search under the mystery/thriller category.


The Search by Nora Roberts is a romantic thriller; i.e., heroine in peril narrative. I’m expanding my review categories from ghost novels to include young adult novels and dog fiction. The Search is of the latter variety.

Simon isn’t Fiona’s type. And she’s definitely not his. But Simon is in desperate need of a dog whisperer/trainer for his recalcitrant canine Jaws, and Fiona, though she doesn’t know it, will need a friendly shoulder when a villain from her past enters her present. Soon, a psychopath stalker will torment Fiona, moving ever closer to the idyllic country home she has prepared in an attempt to distance herself from troubling memories.

In her quiet island surroundings, Fiona is not only a dog trainer, she is also a volunteer search and rescue officer. The search and rescue scenes feel realistic and provide much of the emotional impact of the story. The reader is carried along through forest and on mountaintop to find missing persons and lost children. It’s exciting action filled with suspense, just as real-time rescue operations would be.
The developing relationship between Fiona and Simon works well overall, but it does occasionally veer into cutesy bawdy innuendos and sex-stereotyped role playing heavy on dominance plays. Fortunately, most of the time Fiona holds her own as a strong, smart, and resourceful heroine. (Part of her character arc involves a conflict between Fiona’s hard-won independence and her grudging need to share emotionally.)
I found the mystery surrounding the stalker villain and the search-and-rescue operations more interesting than the love aspect. At the risk of appearing prudish, I confess I would have preferred fewer Me, Jane; You, Tarzan sex scenes in order to heighten the tension of the impending show-down with the villain.
Dog lovers will find plenty to chew on in The Search. Unlike some dog novels, in The Search dogs are integral to the story on all levels—as characters, as plot movers, as gauges, as confidants.

I loved the ending. It was satisfying in every respect (and thrilling) without the saccharine aftertaste you sometimes find in romance writing. Yes, ultimately, The Search is a romance. Call of the Wild this is not, but if you’re in the mood for playful romantic interludes interwoven with a cast of loyal canines on a remote Washington island, then your search is over.


Book Review: The Search by Nora Roberts — 6 Comments

  1. I’ve never read Nora Roberts but I k now she’s well liked.
    I have a bit of a problem with the sex scenes in romance novels and I’m no prude at all. It’s just not something I like to read about, so I get your reservations. I find there are more subtle ways than the explicit one to write about that.
    I like the idea of the dog characters.

    • I know, Caroline, I have mixed feelings myself about the portrayal of sex scenes. Sometimes at just the right point, it deepens the characterization and emotional impact. What I often find is that there are too many of them where a few would do well.

      Since you like dog characters, have you read The Story of Edgar Sawtelle? I loved that book (although it bogs down a little bit in the middle), but one of the most in-depth dog books I’ve come across.

    • Ha ha! She does setting well. The island becomes an integral part of the story. I love the dogs, too, and really enjoyed the search and rescue scenes. I think I’d like to read another novel with that element.

    • Another search and rescue mystery I like even more (but haven’t yet managed to review) is No Mark Upon Her by Deborah Crombie. The focus is a little different–multiple characters and family life issues rather than straight romance, but Crombie writes beautifully and compels you to love her characters.

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