Author: Nora Roberts
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Genre: Fiction, Paranormal, Romance
Format: Paperback, e-reader
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Release Date: November 2013
Recommended Reading: 18+ (Not erotica, but there are some mild sexual scenes.)
OVERALL THOUGHTS: Before I begin, I have a caveat: I am a HUGE Nora Roberts fan. I have read pretty much every book she’s ever written, and in fact own most of them. I adore her writing style, and almost every book is one I have read more than once…some of them many, many times. She just has this way of describing things that sucks me in, and makes me want to read MORE! I absolutely love her In Death series under her nom de plume, J.D. Robb. All that being said, there are some of her books that aren’t quite as good as others. This was one of those books. I did enjoy it, but it wasn’t quite up to par. It felt…rushed. Like she was trying to hurry her way through it. The storyline is wonderful, with lush details and wonderful character quirks, and I feel like her characters can evolve beautifully in the next two books. But this one felt like it was released before it was ready, or pushed through just to get the plot’s beginnings out there.
SYNOPSIS: With indifferent parents, Iona Sheehan grew up craving devotion and acceptance. From her maternal grandmother, she learned where to find both: a land of lush forests, dazzling lakes, and centuries-old legends. Ireland – County Mayo, to be exact. Where her ancestors’ blood and magic have flowed through generations—and where her destiny awaits.
Iona arrives in Ireland with nothing but her Nan’s directions, an unfailingly optimistic attitude, and an innate talent with horses. Not far from the luxurious castle where she is spending a week, she finds her cousins, Branna and Connor O’Dwyer. And since family is family, they invite her into their home and their lives. When Iona lands a job at the local stables, she meets the owner, Boyle McGrath. Cowboy, pirate, wild tribal horsemen, he’s three of her biggest fantasy weaknesses all in one big, bold package.
Iona realizes that here she can make a home for herself—and live her life as she wants, even if that means falling head over heels for Boyle. But nothing is as it seems. An ancient evil has wound its way around Iona’s family tree and must be defeated. Family and friends will fight with each other and for each other to keep the promise of hope-and love-alive.
THE LOWDOWN: This story is based in Ireland, spanning from the 1200′s to modern times, with occasional flashbacks throughout. Sorcha, the Dark Witch, is highly regarded as a healer in her community. However, she has to use her powers to defeat, or at least keep at bay, the evil sorcerer Cabhan. He wishes to join Sorcha’s considerable magickal powers with his own, making himself all-powerful. She refuses him, and in doing so, she must sacrifice herself to keep her three magickal children…and in turn, her children’s children…safe from his grasp. This part of the book is pretty much my favorite…the cool factor of Gaelic paganism and witchcraft should never be overlooked, and I loved the chapters that were focused on Sorcha, her children, their magicks, and the way they lived. In fact, I wish there would’ve been more there, but I understand why Ms. Roberts moved the story to modern times.
Flash forward to present day, and to Iona Sheehan. She is an American with Irish roots, and she grew up with her grandmother’s wonderful stories of witchcraft and destiny. Iona has never felt at home anywhere, or truly connected with anyone but her Nan…until she meets her distant cousins, Branna and Connor O’Dwyer, and begins to feel that she is finally where she belongs. She has sold everything to travel to Ireland, and when she decides that she will make this place her home, she finds work at the local stable helping with the horses. It is here she gets to know Meara, Finbar (or Fin for short,) and Boyle…all three being life-long friends of Branna and Connor. Iona very quickly becomes part of their group. She also very quickly becomes interested in Boyle. The group soon discovers that Iona is the descendant of Sorcha’s youngest child, and is needed to help her cousins stop Cabhan and his all-encompassing desire to end Sorcha’s bloodline, thus gaining their power. Iona comes into her own magick, and the trio soon come up with a battle-plan to destroy Cabhan.
While it is a bit implausible that a complete stranger, distant relative or not, would be accepted into the fold almost immediately and without question, somehow it all comes together…although I wish more time had been spent in developing the relationship between the cousins. It’s also a stretch to believe that a person who had no idea she even had powers could, in only a few months time, learn how to harness her magick to battle pure evil…while at the same time falling head-over-heels in love with a super-sexy man. But again, it works despite the mildly undeveloped feel.
All in all, I really enjoyed this book, in spite of the issues discussed, and I am excited to read the next two books. I do hope that the development of the story and characters feels more natural in the rest of the trilogy.