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.
Trope: Reconciliation Romance
One-Sentence Summary: An animal sanctuary owner Versus a deluded hunter
Review: Nora Roberts’s magical standalone recipe:
✔ A strong, independent Heroine
✔ A rugged, handsome Hero
✔ A dark secret/trauma from the past
⍻ Family drama
✔ A beautiful setting
✔ Adorable animals
✔ A delightful secondary romance
✔ Wise motherly/fatherly figures to give out sage life advice
✔ A long engaging Prologue to draw you in
✔ Baddie’s POV
Reconciliation romances really are Nora Roberts’s specialty and I love the long prologue she gives us at the start of Black Hills showing us Coop and Lil as children from the moment they first meet to when they become more than friends. Getting to see the different stages of their relationship was a real delight and made me even more engaged in their “present-day” relationship.
This book has been on my “To-Read” list for a long time and I finally decided to metaphorically dust it off after I came back from a day at a Big Cat Sanctuary, after all what could be more appropriate than following my day out by reading a book set in such a place! Nora Roberts does what she does best. She makes you feel like you are right there, a foot away from the big creatures who are all given personalities of their own.
One of the most irritating things about a romance is where you like the main characters but find the secondary characters one-dimensional or annoying. You’ll never get that in a Roberts Romance – you will fall in love with Lil’s parents and Coop’s grandparents as much as you will Lil and Coop themselves. Then of course there are all of Lil’s team and the sanctuary including the lovely interracial romance of Farley and Tansey which I enjoyed a lot.
My least favourite thing about this book was that it was just that bit too long. Nora Roberts romances are sagas, I know that, but man did the delusional native American hunter storyline drag on and on.