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Book CoverLawson’s review of The Search by Nora Roberts
Romantic suspense released by Putnam 06 Jul 10

Romantic suspense is one thing that I’m not terribly fond of. I do love Nora Roberts’ suspense though, because the story always takes center stage, no matter what elements are added to the plot. The Search is right up my alley with lots of great story and a little suspense added in. The extra bit in this one is the heroine is a dog trainer and also runs a Search and Rescue team.

The story starts with Fiona Bristow and her dog Peck called in to find a lost 3 year old boy who’s wandered off from his parents rented cabin. Fiona and Peck find the boy, with the help of her S-and-R team, and she reflects on the good life she has. Fiona is the survivor of a serial killer now behind bars. She was the key witness at the trial and they only caught the guy after he went after and killed her fiancee and his K-9 partner.

Fiona runs into Simon Doyle when he brings his new puppy Jaws to her puppy obedience class. After Simon sees her gift with animals, he finagles some private lessons to bring Jaws up to speed in obeying. Simon also starts making some things for Fiona. He’s a wood artist and makes just about anything out of lumber.

The problem starts when some starts killing girls in the same way as the serial killer Fiona escaped from. He starts teasing her and Simon begins to fear for Fiona’s safety since she’s the one that got away before and she’s sure to be a target this time. Living on a small island near Seattle, Fiona is well watched and cared for by all, but the copycat and the mentor, of course, have things planned to bring it all close to home.

The balance between Fiona and Simon was really fun to read. Both have some issues. Fiona has survivor’s guilt among other things, but she’s definitely moved on with her life and established something worthwhile. Simon dated a famous pop start for a bit and wants a quiet life he can live his own way. Though the puppy Jaws brings them together, they are intrigued by the other’s quirks, which starts the relationship ball rolling.

While Fiona has difficulties with maintaining her independence in the face of the new killer, the secondary characters all step up in different ways and help her cope and stay protected from the new menace. Her life, in a way, mirrors the two that have threatened her life. She struggles for control, but instead of hurting others, she makes sure to make everyone happy. There were several times she was asked to accept help and safety when she seemed to take care of herself pretty well. While that took away from the story, it’s understandable considering how illogical crazed killers can be.

While a bit cliched with the serial killer aspect (they both have three names of course), and a nosy reporter that is looking for her fame through rather illegal tactics, it was a great summer read. The dogs and S-and-R aspect added a fun dimension to the story as well.

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Grade: B+


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 fiancé 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…

Read an excerpt.