Thursday, November 17, 2016

CBR 8 Review 7-9: Three Sisters Island Trilogy by Nora Roberts

“Doing nothing sometimes hurts more than doing something. Life doesn't come with a guarantee, which is just as well, because most guarantees are bullshit.” 

Readers of my reviews know I love a good Nora Roberts trilogy, and this is no exception. It's been a hell of a year for me (well, let's be honest, for everyone) and so a lot of my reading has trended towards the simple and easy to enjoy. Nora is the best for that. I like to think of her books as popcorn lit - they are delicious, easy, low in calories, and come in all sorts of types to appeal to whatever your mood happens to be at the time. This mixes more towards the caramel corn of the bunch, aka my favorite - magical romance. I *love* when romance and fantasy are blended, and this trilogy handles a curse laid on the island in 1692, and the pathway love sets up to lead our thread protagonists to break it.

First up is Dance Upon the Air, which focuses on Nell, the only member of our eventual trio who did not grow up on Three Sisters Island. Nell is fleeing a marriage and a life she no longer wants. Having faked her own death to escape her abusive husband, Nell wants to fly under the radar as she rediscovers who she really is and what she wants from life. As such, it's troubling that she develops feelings for local sheriff, Zack Todd, the last person she should want looking into her life. Along the way, she also bonds with the most important women in her life - Mia Devlin, a witch and her new boss, and Ripley Todd, deputy sheriff and sister to Zack. The three women mimic the three witches  who originally cursed the island. While the persecution of witches was taking place in Salem. three powerful, real witches, sisters, cast a curse to protect their island. If their descendants do not bond together, learn their elemental magic, and defeat the darkness, the island will sink into the sea forever. Nell must learn to trust not only Zack, Mia and Ripley, but herself and her new powers.

Book two brings us Ripley's story in Heaven & Earth. Ripley's story is mostly based around her inability to trust herself and her powers. She, like Mia, was aware of her gifts from a young age, but she turned from them instead of developing them. Here to throw a wrench into that plan is Mac Allister Brooke, a researcher looking into the magic and curse of the island. His research and their feelings for each other get wrapped up together, and Ripley has to find a way to reconcile them both.

The final chapter is found in Face the Fire, letting us conclude with Mia, the most powerful and capable of the three. Mia, however, for all her acknowledgment of her power, needs to connect it to her heart, which she never really got back from her boyfriend, Sam Logan, when he left her and the island years ago. Now the owner of the only hotel on the island, Sam returns, ostensibly for business. However, as another descendant of the eponymous Three Sisters, his fate is as tied to the island as Mia's, Ripley's and Nell's. Sam and Mia must acknowledge what there is between them to have the strength to join Nell and Ripley to beat back the darkness before time runs out.

I enjoyed all of these books immensely. I'm usually a bigger fan of one volume vs the others, but in this case, I felt they were all pretty solid 4 star reads. All the principle couples are decently developed and fleshed out, both as pairs, and as individuals. I really enjoyed that the relationships between the men was also explored, even with them being secondary to the women. Often, the secondary and tertiary relationships fall to the wayside in these types of books, but everyone relates really well to each other in this series. They all make each other stronger, not just the pairs, or the girls. 

Roberts does a nice job working in a few elements that are standard in her writings as both Nora Roberts and JD Robb - mainly celtic mysticism and suspense. Roberts loves Ireland almost as much as I do, and she tends to find ways to work that into her books, be it via Irish characters, some Celtic mysticism (seen here through Sam), or the actual location of one or more books. She uses some classic suspense, as seen often in the books she writes that are adapted for TV movies and the In Death series, giving Nell a story of escape that involves a very bad man still searching for her. 

I also appreciated the use of Nell's ex husband throughout. It would have been easy enough to end the first book and never hear from him again. The fact that he's brought back in as a crucial antagonist is clever and well executed.

Another great trilogy by Roberts, well worth the read if you are already a fan of hers, and a decent enough place to start if you haven't tried her work before.