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Nora Roberts` `The Search` mixes love, dogs

For those looking for a breezy summer read, and a quick lesson on canine search and rescue, the latest novel by Nora Roberts might do the trick.

Roberts` romance books by and large follow the same story arch, and "The Search" is no different: an unlikely pairing, one partner (usually the man) resistant, but ultimately the magnetic forces of love bring the couple together anyway.

What gives her books a dash of variety is the way Roberts delves into a niche world — from the wedding industry to architectural engineering. In "The Search," her focus is on man`s best friend.

Protagonist Fiona is a talented dog trainer and dedicated canine search-and-rescue volunteer. Her love interest, Simon, is a brooding wood artist who is new in town. His mother gives him an uncontrollable puppy. As he explains: "She`s got this idea that since I moved out here, I need companionship. It`s a wife or a dog. She can`t give me a wife, so ..."

Amid their halting courtship, a serial killer from Fiona`s past comes back to haunt her, taking up the second half of the story.

"The Search" is adequately entertaining, although Roberts seems to have grown out of touch with how people talk. The dialogue in certain parts of the book is so unrealistic and trite, it`s off-putting. The offense is probably not enough, however, to deter fans.

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