“You can’t just hope for happy endings. You have to believe in them. Then do the work, take the risks.”
My adoration of Nora Roberts should be well known around here by now. I actually pre-ordered this book so I could have it the moment it was released. She is my favorite romance novelist, hands down, and I love when she mixes fantasy into her usual romantic formula. As an added bonus, we get Ireland in the mix, which makes it the perfect trifecta for my enjoyment.
The story, and the series (yup, another trilogy - LOVES IT!), is set up with an opener set in the past. A powerful witch, Sorcha, and her children have their lives disrupted by a dark witch, Cabhan. Sorcha sacrifices herself and passes her powers onto her three children, knowing that someday the circle will be complete and they'll be able to banish the evil man forever.
That brings us to present, and Iona Sheehan uprooting her life to move to County Mayo and cousins she's never met, Branna and Connor O'Dwyer. The siblings recognize Iona immediately for what she is - the last of the circle, the third of the original powers. Each of them has gifts and animals associated with them, passed down from the original three siblings: Iona has a horse, Branna, a hound, and Connor, a hawk. The two start training Iona, knowing she'll have to up her magical abilities to be useful. In the meantime, Iona gains employment at the stables of Ashford castle, working under her inevitable love interest, Boyle. Also introduced are the love interests for the others in the circle, as that's how Nora always sets things up.
I enjoyed this book a lot, though the ending let me down a little. You know there is no way they are defeating Cabhan in book one - he's the central conflict of the series. So the rush to the battle at the end feels anti-climactic. You know they aren't going to win, and also that they can't lose that badly because none of the main characters is going to die, especially not when most of their relationships have yet to develop. So the drop off at the end was a bit much for me. Still, a good read, with a solid set up for the rest.
I look forward to picking up the rest of the series as it is released.