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book review: The Search

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Before you know anything else, you must know that I admire dogs, and two dogs that stand out in my mind as the best dogs ever. One was a dog named Snowball. She was a samoyed, and my family got her when I was 8 or 9. I remember her puffball puppy stage and her protective mama stage and her mellow calm stage. She died peacefully in her sleep when the family was away at work and school when I was 18. We think she may have been sick and didn’t want to tell us.

The second was a dog named Emme, a border collie and samoyed mix. She came into my life when she was already 5 or 6 years old and beautifully trained. I fell in love with her respect for her owner and love for her family. I may have fallen more for the dog than for the man at first, but we’ll just pretend you didn’t hear that. It was with this dog that I realized that I was a wonderful dog mama when the dog came pre-trained. (Is this where I can wish that the man had come pre-trained? Oh wait… you didn’t hear that, either.)

In my first round of single days, I tried owning a dog, but the dog ended up owning me. I was too soft, not alpha dog material. Luna slept on my bed, pooped on my floor, and never came when I called her. I’m pretty certain I did her a huge favor when I gave her to someone who would love her and be the master she deserved.

And I told you all this so I can tell you about The Search by Nora Roberts. It, not surprisingly at all, centers on dogs. In fact, the main character, Fiona Bristow, trains dogs and heads a team of search and rescue dogs. Several times in the story, she and her team are called on rescue missions with the dogs. I was impressed with her and the dogs on a number of occasions, so much so that I wanted to reach in and rub the dogs’ scruffs. Who am I kidding? I wanted her dogs. She made me want to own a lab (or 4).

Other than the dog thing, the plot is relatively predictable, as many mass paperbacks are, but it was a fun beach (er, garage sale hosting) read. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Nora Roberts book if there wasn’t a hot man and a romance brewing, so let’s not forget to mention Simon Doyle. We like him, and so does Fiona. I enjoyed watching as Fiona and Simon intended for something simple in their affair only to have it backfire (?!) into a relationship. I loved Simon’s blunt and crusty character. I laughed at their exchanges, often aloud, much to my daughter’s dismay.

But really? How many men would complain as their girlfriend cleaned the windows in his home? And how many men would tell a woman he’s in love with her because she has the ability to pull out the mad in him? Their relationship felt real and desirable and fun. And it was something that I wanted every page of the way.

The push of the plot, though, centers around Fiona’s past rather than her present. Once upon a time, before the book’s action began, Fiona escaped being the fifth victim of a serial killer. To punish her, the killer murdered her fiance and his dog. He ended up in prison, biding his time until he found a proxy to train to finish the job he began: Fiona’s death.

I don’t think I’m really spoiling anything to tell you that Fiona survives. (Really? Do any mass paperbacks have sad endings? Um… NO!) The good guys always win and the bad guys always lose. But that’s not the point. The point is the relationships and the journey of the story. And, like I’ve mentioned, both are definitely summer-read worthy.

And maybe you’ll agree with me: I admire Fiona and envy parts of her life (she works from home and follows her passions!), but really? I’m more of a cat person. Cats don’t expect me to be alpha. In fact, they would laugh at me if I tried to act alpha. So we get along just fine, me and my cats. I just won’t tell them that I just finished a book about dogs.

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