Review: The Search — Nora Roberts

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Book List
91. Call Me Russell — Russell Peters
92.  The Golden Compass — Philip Pullman
93. Homeport — Nora Roberts
94. The Search — Nora Roberts

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 fiance 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 o 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 his way 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 intensely 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 Simon begins to appreciate both dog and trainer, the past tears 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…

THE REVIEW STARTS HERE!

I figured it would be only fair to let you know where the description ends and the review begins, because the former was stupid long. Sadly for me, the pointless summary was an indication of things to come: the book was just as long. And just as pointless. Stieg Larsson, you are forgiven for the ridiculous length of your books. You have nothing on Nora Roberts.

The Search is the most anticlimactic book I’ve read this year, or perhaps even ever, with a whole host of disappointments to guide me along. The characters were flat, predictable, and exact cut-outs of virtually every other couple that has starred in Roberts’ worse books; Simon, our hunk of burning love, had a fair share of moments in which he turned a woman into an object; the mystery was not a mystery, and it was practically a carbon copy of Black Hills (a book of hers I read last year); the antagonist was the same as every other bad guy that Roberts has ever written. And it took up 500 unnecessary pages. And because I had to spend all day reading suffering through it, I’m going to expand upon every point here.

I’m skipping over my characterization point, which was easily made in one sentence, to focus more on our wonderful leading male. Because I am a fair-minded individual, I will admit Simon Doyle had his sweet moments, where I didn’t totally hate him. And then…

And then he became the typical Roberts cut-out. In the first chunk of the book, when Fiona and Simon were just starting to worry about their attraction to each other, he kisses her in the woods. Sweet enough and what not, but when Fiona tells him she won’t be continuing it tonight, he oh, so charmingly retorts: “Do you think if I wanted to finish up what we started back there I’d wait for an invitation?” (Roberts 120)

Buddy, sex without an invitation is rape. Rape is not sexy. Threatening rape is not sexy. I don’t understand why I should feel the overwhelming need to clarify this to a character in a romance novel. Isn’t romance supposed to be rape-free?

I don’t know about everyone else, but when I was younger my mother made sure that I understood that if a man threatened me, however subtly, or refused to take my “no, I will not have sex with you” seriously, I was to run far away from that man. Why is Fiona not running far away from this man?

When we get glimpses into Simon’s mind, he is constantly commenting that he doesn’t find Fiona particularly pretty or altogether that easy on the eyes (though, to his credit, he does come out and say he likes the girl). While I guess you’re welcome to say what you want in your head, I’d wholly discourage telling a girl you’re sweet on that you don’t think she’s beautiful. Simon’s not that kind of guy, though; Simon likes to speak his mind. So he says straight out, “You’re not beautiful” (187).

Oh, gee, thanks. I’m sure she appreciated that.

Turn the page, and you find out she did. Fiona, who evidently has Stockholm Syndrome, thinks to herself, “Not beautiful, she thought. The observation, and the fact that he just said it, should have been a flick to the ego — even though it was perfectly true. So why had it amused her, at least for the few seconds between that and his next comment?” (188)

Maybe Fiona just has more patience than I do, but if the guy I’m dating has the nerve to tell me straight out that I’m ugly, he’s getting a kick in the crotch. By this point I’d come to the conclusion that Simon was one of those sad, pathetic human beings who makes women feel bad about themselves, and then uses it to his advantage to get her to have sex with him.

Sad to say, Simon isn’t just that kind of guy. He is more than the guy who threatens you with rape, who calls you ugly: he’s the guy who does all that and expects you to have sex with him. When he stays the night with Fiona, I think to protect her from the embarrassing lack of threat the copy-cat killer presented, she says, “I guess you’ll expect sex and a hot meal?”

His reply? “Yeah, but you can pick the order” (206). I’ve got two issues with this whole exchange: firstly, that he expects it. I mean, that’s the obvious one to go after here. Where does he get the nerve to expect anything from her? The second issue is this stereotypical, narrow view of a woman’s worth — coming straight from a woman’s mouth. She cooks, she’s available for sex, and it should be expected. Naturally.

At this point, you’d think I’d be done with Simon’s character assassination. Sadly, I’m not. He’s also one of those wonderful, sweet men we all love who turns women into objects. When he’s reminiscing on the new turn his life has taken, he thinks, “Somehow he’d gotten himself a dog and a woman, neither of which he’d particularly wanted” (228). Immediately after I saw that passage, it struck me the wrong way: he got a woman, as if he went out and purchased her at the store for $19.95.

As well, instead of giving Fiona a name when he’s thinking about her, he refers to her as “the woman.” Funny enough, his dog gets addressed by his name. Fiona is “the woman.” “The woman” is less important than Jaws, the dog.

In terms of the mystery, it was an embarrassment. I had hoped for excitement, rising action, escalating aggression against Fiona, and got none of it. For all the talk of her being the big prize, she — SPOILERS — wasn’t even captured by the killer, and was never actually under any real danger. So for 500 pages I was treated to an embarrassing few attempts at scaring the reader, a killer who read like every other Roberts bad guy (in a nutshell, the killer’s inner dialogue is basically like this: “Women are whores. Don’t have sex, drink, or do drugs because it taints the body. Remain pure at all times. Fuck bitches. Women aren’t worth shit”), and a dreadfully boring ending.

It was a waste of a book, a waste of my time, and the only upside were the dogs, who were cute.

Next book: something quality.

– Kelsey

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One thought on “Review: The Search — Nora Roberts

  1. Pingback: Review: Blithe Images — Nora Roberts | The Independent Review

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