Monday, November 30, 2009

Black Hills

Read the excerpt here

Black Hills
By Nora Roberts
Publisher: Piatkus Books
Published: 2009
ISBN-13: 9780749929268
500 pages

(NOTE: The information above is for another book cover)

This is a way, way overdue post and apologies to my dear blog buddy Julia (I'm sorry!). Reading Black Hills by Nora Roberts has been a lot of fun and totally enjoyable because I was reading it with Julia who is also a big fan of NR. For this review, we both have decided to do it in Q&A format. Let's begin.

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QUESTIONS FROM JULIA
(Please read her post here):

Coop and Lil go their separate ways in their younger days. It is more of Coop’s idea of disappearing even though his intention is a good one. Lil is, of course, heartbroken. In your opinion, did he do the right thing?
As painful as it is to separate from each other, I think Coop did the right thing. I didn't think Coop just disappeared, because he did express the intention to do so bearing in mind what Lil wanted to achieve and him being there will hinder it. As a result of that, readers know that Lil managed to fulfill her desire to be a wildlife biologist and Coop build his own business as a private investigator in New York.

Coop and Lil were reunited when Coop returned to the farm to care for his aging grandparents. Had he never left the farm in the first place, chances of Lil building her animal sanctuary back home and Coop proving his worth without his father's help would be close to none. Coop's chosen profession as a detective helped Lil during her time of need because she was faced with terror amounting to heartless killing of one of the cougars Lil has been tracking. Meanwhile, clues lead them to a few unsolved murders where she lives. It is dangerous for Lil, her family, and her animals.

There is also another interesting couple who are supporting characters in the story. Farley (a younger man) is interested in Tansy (an older woman) and they both work for Lil. Not only is there an age difference, they’re also both of different races. What do you think of this relationship?
I think it is a beautiful relationship. It shows that love knows no boundaries and that in itself is beautiful. Farley sees Tansy as the woman that he loves not because of her looks (don't get me wrong, he does think she is beautiful) but because of her as a person. She has a beautiful personality. I am very happy for both of them.

What did you think about the cover art of Black Hills? Goes well with the story or not?
There are two versions of the cover. I like the one I posted here because it's a picture of a cougar and we all know that cougars are central to the storyline here. I also like the other one because the woman on the cover depicted Lil so well.

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MY QUESTIONS:

BLACK HILLS looks like an ordinary love story—but the presence of the serial killer that terrorizes Lil Chance, and Coop Sullivan’s return to his grandparent’s farm after many years—makes it a suspenseful and satisfying story. What do you think of it and of the characters (Lil and Coop), and their romance?
I enjoyed the chemistry between the Cooper Sullivan and Lil Chance. Nora Roberts managed to do a great job with their characterization; they're perfect for each other. Coop and Lil have known each other since childhood. While Coop has it rough (his parents send him to live with his grandparents at the farm while they finalize their divorcethat's where and when he first met Lil), Lil is more fortunate to have a strong, loving family that sticks together. Their friendship-turned-love just blossom from there. Like any couple, they face challenges too. And the way Coop cares for Lil is totally awesome.

Nora Roberts researched Black Hills of South Dakota for her story, and included the respected war leader of the Oglala Lakota, Crazy Horse, as Lil is somewhat related to the bloodline. She also impart some knowledge about cougars and other big cats that are residing in the Chance Wildlife Reserve Lil has put so much effort in setting up. Is there any part of the story that you disliked or found too tedious? What do you like best about this particular book?
Nope. I find the amount of background and additional information is just about nice. Without those bits thrown in, I wouldn't have enjoyed it as much I wanted to. I even Google-ed some images of the place and loved what I found. What I like best about this book? Well, apart from the relationship dynamics between Coop and Lil, I must say it's the relationship between Lil and Baby, her precious cougar.

Family support plays an important part to the development of the characters. Lil has a wonderful set of parents and stays in the farm at Black Hills. Coop is sent to his grandparents’ house in Black Hills for the summer as his parents go through divorce proceedings in the city, leaving him bitter. Lucky for him, he has a set of grandparents who care for him and patiently shape him into what he is as an adult. His relationship with Lil then grows from that of childhood friends to lovers. Do you think that the story is clichéd or too programmed? What are your thoughts about their family dynamics?
I don't think it's clichéd at all. Coop’s grandmother did a wonderful job in “opening’ up Coop and empathizing with him. She is not preachy and she knows how to handle a young boy like him. Nora Roberts succeeded in making everybody in the story do their part effectively. Lil's parents are open-minded and I like that. They watch over her without smothering her, and the same goes for Coop's grandparents.