Friday, June 30, 2017

Nora Roberts - Shadow Spell

Tough, strong-willed Meara Quinn believes that love is for other people. She iis certainly not going to fall for the gorgeous but unpredictable Connor O'Dwyer.
Along with his sister Branna and his cousin Iona, Connor shares a dark gift, passed down through generations. They use their powers for good, but they are being hunted by evil. An evil that wants to destroy them - and everyone they care for.
But love can be the strongest magic of all. In the enchanted woods of County Mayo, Meara must fight the only thing she truly fears - her own heart.

Comment: I've said many times that Nora Roberts is one of my favorite authors and it was because of her books I've got more will to keep on reading romance. As it happens with all books and authors, some one likes more than others. This second installment in the Cousins O'Dwyer series has sadly turned out to be a weak one for me, at least comparing to my more favorite work by the author. 

In this second book, we focus on Connor, the male witch in the family and one of the elements of the group who will be a key part of defeating the villain Cabhan. 
Connor has always been a trustworthy person and he knows his heritage and those he cares about will only be free if they can defeat Cabhan now that their powers combined can reach the highest level.
Another member of the team is Meara, a friend of the family who not only accepts the witch side of everyone in the group but also understands and helps with what she can. The two have always been friends but a chance situation propels things to change between them. Will Meara, who doesn't believe in love for herself, accept Connor and what can exist between them?

Second books in trilogies are usually more difficult to read then first books or even third books, things have already been presented and are not ending yet, so the plot needs to move along but still not reach its highest point. I had the impression while reading this book that the team (as the six main characters consider themselves) was constantly fighting the bad guy, they kept defending themselves from attacks...I get that this can be seen as an escalation in the need to finally solve the bad guy's end once and for all, but it also seemed that there wasn't much more to be happening at the moment. And, to me, the romance was not a good escape tactic.

One of the things I most admire this author for is how she can elaborate relationships between characters. It just feel very realistic even when the language used isn't as so. I'm specifically talking about character's inner thoughts. When Nora was writing her Harlequin and Silhouette stories, her writing felt so special and unique...but the past recent books it has become so repetitive and too polished. I think that reflects more on the scenes where characters have their inner monologues. I guess I just couldn't not notice that in this book, while the first one seemed more fluid in this aspect.

Another aspect which has completely disappointed me is the romance, the detail that usually makes any book by her feel magical. In this book we have an example of a friends-to-lovers romance, something I usually don't like that much because I not only find it difficult to imagine but it never feels very realistically done. Meara and Connor have been friends almost all their lives, they know a lot about one another but they never thought about one another romantically. Not in a serious way, anyway. 
But in this book, almost half way though it, they kiss and things change - which they had to, after all they are a couple among three. But it just doesn't make sense because we never see it mention they were serious about each other before. In the first half of the book they basically act as just friends. In the first book they never look or talk to one another romantically. We had no clue, no indication they might have a secret desire to be with the other.
Then, suddenly out of nowhere, they kiss and others start acting as if it's a great idea and Connor's sister says or is talking to someone and it appears she has always thought them together would be a great idea. What? Why would we, the reader, be aware of this if not one scene before they kiss indicates so? So we have two close friends who just decide they will be the love of their lives. Romantically. Sexually. Out of nowhere. I just can't accept it, and if I start imagining what it must be like to have a conflict between them (we sort of saw it) wouldn't that be weird to their friendship, which was long, much less a new found romance? Not buying it at all.

It does pain me to say I feel disappointed in this book. I usually accept any book by Nora and some have been perfect to me in their own way but this one just didn't do it for me. I feel this book lacked amazing details we often see in Nora's books. The writing is correct, fluid but it feels it has become more automated which makes it lack spontaneity and freshness I admired so much, the simplicity of some things...just my opinion. And in this book it just feels more obvious.
I hope the final installment is better.
Grade: 6/10

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