Sunday, April 4, 2010
Review: Black Hills
Black Hills by Nora Roberts
Reasons for reading: I've always thought I should read a Nora Roberts book; I visited the Black Hill last year; Black for Colourful Reading Challenge; NYT Bestseller for Four Month Challenge
Description: "Lil Chance fell in love with Cooper Sullivan pretty much the first time she saw him, an awkward teenager staying with his grandparents on their cattle ranch in South Dakota while his parents went through a messy divorce. Each year, with Coop's annual summer visit, their friendship deepens - but then abruptly ends. Twelve years later and Cooper has returned to run the ranch after his grandfather is injured in a fall. Though his touch still haunts her, Lil has let nothing stop her dream of opening the Chance Wildlife Refuge, but something - or someone - has been keeping a close watch. When small pranks escalate into heartless killing, the memory of an unsolved murder in these very hills has Cooper springing to action to keep Lil safe. They both know the dangers that lurk in the wild landscape of the Black Hills. And now they must work together to unearth a killer of twisted and unnatural instincts who has singled them out as prey ..."
First line: "Cooper Sullivan's life, as he'd known it, was over."
My thoughts: I can see why Nora Roberts is so popular! While at times I felt the book was a bit....slick because she's clearly written so many of them, I still enjoyed it. The ending was a crazy whirlwind with an unexpected (to me, at least) twist. I was glad that I've seen the Black Hills and Deadwood, it added a lot to the book for me to be able to picture the setting. I sometimes don't like it when an author has clearly done of a lot of research on a topic and includes a ton of it in the book, but Roberts' information about the big cats was interesting it fit in well. I'm not a big wildlife person, but I actually loved the cats - they had their own personalities and the Chance Refuge treated them all with such respect and care. It made me wish it really existed and I could go and see Boris the old tiger and Baby the cougar.
The love story between Lil and Cooper was pretty well done. I liked that she set it up from their childhood, with Cooper thinking South Dakota was hell and Lil not being able to imagine living anywhere else. It was really cute. I did think it was a bit angsty with all of the "You hurt me!"/"But it was for your own good!" debates between them. I liked that Lil was really strong and smart, but also able to admit (eventually, reluctantly) that she needed his help. He was maybe just a bit too take-charge, throw-her-over-his-shoulder romance-novel hero at times, but overall they were a good match.
The buildup to finding out who is preying on Lil was well done. Just when I was starting to think that it was time to tell us who it was, Roberts did. And what a weird, psychotic villain she comes up with! Definitely bonus points for having an interesting predator who really fit into the South Dakota setting.
The verdict: A good read, I can see why she's an instant best-seller. I think I'll look into her work a bit more and maybe read a few of her "greatest hits."