Review: Black Hills by Nora Roberts

Posted on October 25, 2009


Black Hills by Nora RobertsSeries: None

Hero: Cooper Sullivan

Heroine: Lillian Chance

A summer at his grandparents’ South Dakota ranch is not eleven-year-old Cooper Sullivan’s idea of a good time. But things are a bit more bearable now that he’s discovered the neighbor girl, Lil Chance, and her homemade batting cage. Even horseback riding isn’t as awful as Coop thought it would be. Each year, with Coop’s annual summer visit, their friendship deepens from innocent games to stolen kisses, but there is one shared experience that will forever haunt them: the terrifying discovery of a hiker’s body.

As the seasons change and the years roll, Lil stays steadfast to her dreams of becoming a wildlife biologist and protecting her family land, while Coop struggles with his father’s demand that he attend law school and join the family firm. Twelve years after they last walked together hand in hand, fate has brought them back to the Black Hills when the people and things they hold most dear need them most.

An investigator in New York, Coop recently left his fastpaced life to care for his aging grandparents and the ranch he has come to call home. Though the memory of 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 and acts of destruction escalate into the heartless killing of Lil’s beloved cougar, recollections of an unsolved murder in these very hills have Coop springing to action to keep Lil safe.

Lil and Coop both know the natural dangers that lurk in the wild landscape of the Black Hills. But now they must work together to unearth a killer of twisted and unnatural instincts who has singled them out as prey.

I didn’t expect to enjoy Black Hills by Nora Roberts but I did. I stalled on reading the book because the excerpt didn’t tag my interest (isn’t that always the case though? lol). But yesterday the book called to me and I’m glad I heeded to the calling, lol.

I love the friends to lovers theme. It was so lovely to see the friendship between Lil and Coop develop from young children and grow as they hit their teens. Love brought their friendship full circle as they became matured adults – and it wasn’t all a happy ending right away.

The secondary characters were really fleshed out in this novel. I loved getting to know Lil’s parents, Cooper’s grandparents, Farley who is the unofficial adopted child of the Chances’, and Lil’s best friend, Tansey. The love and friendship between the characters are amazing and so envious.

I like that Nora Roberts did not skim over the refuge that Lil built but illustrated how the organization was run – from caring for the animals, the hiring of interns to help out around the refuge, running a website with portfolios of the animals to raise awareness of them, to getting funding to keep the refuge running and well maintained. Chance’s Refuge wasn’t just a backdrop but played a big part of the storyline.

Now some of the small things I picked on —

While it wasn’t unexpected that Lil and Cooper got together, when and the way in which they did seemed far too easy for me. The progression of their friendship to relationship was quick – going from kids befriending each other to teens realizing romantic feelings. I get that close proximity would raise romantic feelings in teenagers but it was the speed at which they acted upon them that made me pause. There were no thoughts voiced from either of them as to how a romance would affect their friendship.

When Lil and Cooper separated almost immediately after Lil started college, it was Cooper who decided for them both without explaining the real reasons why. Later as the reasons were explained, Lil couldn’t forgive Cooper for deciding for her – which to a certain extent I sympathized, but only in the beginning – and held onto her hurts against him. I couldn’t fault Cooper for doing what he did as the two of them wouldn’t be in their places if Cooper hadn’t been rational. Even knowing that, Lil pushed Cooper away saying she couldn’t take the chance he would decide for her again and leave. Ugh, she got on my nerves then because it dragged the story a bit.

There was a secondary relationship featuring Farley and Tansey which I found to be charming. I was able to imagine Farley’s grins so clearly each time Tansy mentioned it.  Although I thought the reason that Tansey used as an obstacle for their relationship was effortlessly blown away at the end. It wasn’t unexpected though since their relationship started developing even as she protested. I just thought that the reason she used would be more fleshed out, i.e. her mother would protest the age difference or her peers would frown upon their relationship.

I have no problem with knowing the identity of the bad guy early on in the story. However, his identity was too easily identified by Cooper. The various crimes committed by Bad Guy were just as easily back-tracked, and none of which were identified by the Sheriff. Cooper did all the work in finding Bad Guy, identifying and lining up the crimes that were committed over the years. It seem the Sheriff’s role was there to tie things up legitimately.

Another thing is that when things came to a head, Lil found the cave so quickly and simply. The ending of crazy Bad Guy was convenient and unrealistic.

The tone of this book somewhat reminds me of Montana Sky, a book I enjoy re-reading and have several times already.

Despite the little things, I enjoyed this book and will re-read again.

Grading: B-

Posted in: B Reviews, Reviews