Black Hills - Nora Roberts
Really this is between 3 and 3.5. It was a decent read, but it was a weaker story coming from Nora Roberts. The suspense was okay, especially since we weren't supposed to be playing a guessing game as to who the killer was. However, he was one of her weaker villains. His reasoning for everything he did sounded really flimsy. Yes, I take into account a psychopath doesn't need a strong reason for what he does, but Roberts usually does better. Especially connecting the villain to the main characters. There was a tenuous thread there, at best. There was a twelve year jump in time that was hard to believe in it's connection to the suspense part of the story as well as the primary relationship.Cooper Sullivan and Lil Chance were adorable as children and even as young adults. Then life happened. The angst between the two of them felt weak as well. Like there needed to be this drama for the hell of it and the most typical plot point would do. Cooper's reasoning for his actions was as predictable as it was paternalistic and pretty lame all around. Maybe it really is a male thing, because I'm right with Lil in not being able to understand. I don't understand why, in his need to "prove" himself, he needed to do something he seemed rather lukewarm about, alone, rather than something he loved, and was really good at, in a place where people loved him and would support him. Overall, once she figured out where she was going with his character he turned out to be a pretty sweet guy. But most of Roberts's male characters in the last few years have basically all been the same (the exception being Gull from Chasing Fire). She needs to realize she's allowed to write warm, companionable men because most of hers are cold and standoffish. No doubt some women find that sexy, but it gets old to read essentially the same man over and over. (Part of the problem here is her abominable writing style. She drags her aversion to the word "and" and comma-replace-all into the dialogue, and it makes her characters sound like they have suffered brain damage, clipped, and way too similar.) As an adult Cooper started off just like all of Roberts's other recent male characters. But while overly familiar, it was almost out of character because then he did an about face and realized what he needed to do for their happiness. I still don't understand his cold behavior toward Lil before that change, it wasn't explained.I loved Lil. She was intelligent, strong and capable, but also had a vulnerability that allowed her to say to Cooper, and anyone else, what I wanted her to say and not run off into Too Stupid To Live actions. I'm so glad she made Cooper answer for his choices, instead of practically thanking him for knowing what was best for her without consulting her and forgiving him immediately like we see heroines do way too often. The secondary characters were all engaging, especially the parents/grandparents. It was a great community she put together in this story. But we all know who the real stars were: This book reminded me how much I love these beautiful creatures. They all made me smile (except when I was in a rage about how horrible humans can be). Especially Baby. Sweetest. Thing. Ever.The climax of the book will be painfully predictable for most people. I easily called everything that happened. Now it just so happens that a couple of those things made me giddy. I have no idea why but even as predictable as it was, I loved it. Still, it would have been nice for there to be some surprises. I also don't understand why so many climaxes I've been reading lately come within the last ten, twenty pages of the book. So it seems like it happens and gets resolved very quickly when there have been 450-something pages leading up to it. Then it's just over and the book is over and that's that. I know some people don't like things going on long after a resolution has been reached, but I think there is a happy medium between over-telling a story (e.g. months/years in the future happily married with children and adding nothing to the story at all) and leaving the reader bereft of a satisfactory conclusion (e.g. "glad you're not dead!" FIN.)This was at least an entertaining read. If you need something on the light side, are a fan of Nora Roberts, or want a romantic suspense that you know won't be terrible I recommend picking this up.