When eleven-year-old Cooper Sullivan’s parents send him to his grandparents’ South Dakota horse ranch for a summer on his grandparents’ horse ranch, he expects the worst two months of his life. Instead, he meets the neighbors’ daughter, Lillian Chance. She shares his love of baseball and teaches him how to ride horses. With each annual visit their friendship grows and develops into something more, until the year they stumble on the body of a dead hiker.
From that day on, their lives follow different paths. Coop breaks away from his father’s demands while Lil becomes a wildlife biologist and creates the Chance Wildlife Refuge.
Twelve years later their lives intersect once more. Coop leaves his job as a private investigator in New York to care for his grandparents and the ranch. Still hurt by his departure all those years ago, Lil determines to not let his presence hold her back. But when animals are slaughtered, and left for Lil to find, and a man goes missing, Coop will stop at nothing to keep her safe, even if it means disrupting her life and the peace she fought so hard to achieve.
At first, I was very excited to read Nora Roberts’ Black Hills, but the more I read, the greater my disappointment grew. While the plot is intriguing and Roberts draws the reader into the world of wildlife biologists, I grew irritated with the crude language. By this I refer to swear words as well as countless distasteful conversations between the characters. They treat sex in a cavalier fashion, often talking about it or the opposite sex in extremely debasing terms. The words lust and love are thrown around freely and interchangeably, even when it’s lust every time.
Numerous sex scenes leave little to the imagination. Roberts isn’t a bad writer, she pulls her audience into the intricacies of a wildlife refuge and the lives of its inhabitants and caretakers, but if one pulls out the vulgar words, crass conversations, and sex scenes, there isn’t much left to this book. That aside, this novel is for those who prefer figuring out how to catch the culprit rather than learning whodunit, as the reader knows the culprit almost from the beginning.
Overall, Black Hills disappointed me. Knowing that Roberts is a mystery writer and having enjoyed several movies based on her books, I had high expectations for the novel. Unfortunately, I will now have to think twice before reading a Nora Roberts book again and stick to the movies, which are cleaner.
Review copy provided by Putnam.
**Originally posted on Fiction Addict.