Reviewed: November 5, 2010
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: The Key Trilogy, Book 1
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Length: 352 Pages
Formats: Mass Market Paperback, Kindle, Nook
Once upon a time and beyond the Curtain of Power, the Curtain of Dreams, there lived three Celtic demigoddesses, sisters and daughters of a Celtic king and human woman. Some in their world revolted against their existence, offended by their links to mortality. One such god, Kane, rose up against the king and his progeny, and in a moment, a single moment when the demigoddesses' protectors had dropped their guard, he attacked with swift vengeance and wicked sorcery. In the aftermath, three souls were stolen and three sisters lay as if asleep, their souls captured in a box secured by three locks, three keys at their motionless feet. For three thousand years, the protectors have searched for the three mortals to find the three keys, and once in every generation since that dark day three potentials are born. In this generation, Malory Price has been called, Dana Steele has been called, Zoe McCourt has been called. For three thousand years, the potentials have failed. But this time...this time...
Malory Price is an organized, goal oriented woman. Denied the gifts of the true artist but graced with a love of art and a keen mind, she made her passion her calling and manages a small but successful art gallery in the quaint Pennsylvanian town of Pleasant Valley. But not all is going according to plan, and before she can quite grasp it, her job is crashing down after a heated confrontation with The Gallery owner's new trophy wife, she's crashing down after being bowled over by a man and his dog, and her life is crashing down when an invitation to a decidedly odd house in the hills turns into a quest for some mystical key. She's surrounded by strangers, some of whom are in just as dire straights as her, and some look like they just stepped out of a Gaelic fairy tale. And the fairy tale set are spouting off about quests, keys, and gods. Yeah, this was not on Malory's lifetime goals list.
Newspaper reporter and editor of the local paper, Michael "Flynn" Hennessey may have knocked Malory down...well, he blames his unruly dog Moe, really, but it was she who bowled him over with her eyes and hair and legs and... Well, the list is long and very pretty. When the flustered but fascinating woman turns up in his home as his stepsister Dana Steele's guest, he's pleasantly surprised. When he finds out why she's there, and hears what she and Dana and Zoe have gotten themselves into, he's suspicious as hell and determined to get to the bottom of this ridiculous quest idea. And he knows just the two childhood friends to call in for help. Soon the three women and three men are working together - at the beginning with various stages of belief in this quest thing - and struggling to help Malory be the first to find the first key before her month runs out.
I've been reading Nora Roberts for all of my adult life and have to say, this sort of trilogy, with just a touch of the magical and mystical, is my favorite of her styles. It's not just about a couple coming together while something goes on in the background that links the three books together, but rather an intensive study on the relationships between friends, lovers, and family. Written with the classic Roberts lyricism and elegance, sweeping descriptive narratives, witty dialogue, and charming imagination, Roberts blends personalities and strengths and offers up very human foibles and follies for the ultimate in reading entertainment.
The style, the intelligence, the plot and the interpersonal relationships that are born, develop, and thrive, just flat out work for me. I love reading them. The Key Trilogy looks to be another that I thoroughly enjoy, as this first installment was full of wonderful Celtic mythos and a touch of magic, good-hearted people, and sweet romance.
For me, it's all about the characters in these books, and I really enjoyed Malory and Flynn and the rest. The three women are strong, independent, and intelligent, and even while all three were at a bit of a loose end career-wise, they still maintained a truth to self and an honesty of purpose and value that was very appealing. They're individuals, with very different personalities, but they fit extremely well together. Same goes for the guys. Roberts has a gift for making a seemingly effortless creation of characters, imbues them with such vibrant and varied life, litters their path with peaks and valleys both emotional and profound, and provides them the support of family and love, and by the end of the journey they feel like fond friends with whom I've thoroughly enjoyed spending time.
I will say the actual nitty gritty of the tale, the minutiae like the money that is offered to secure the three women's help and the nearly incomprehensible "assistance" from Rowena, seemed slightly less lyrical and smoothly conceived and realized than Roberts' previous romance trilogies with a magical theme. I wasn't totally sold on the way Malory's leg of the quest was resolved, either. The plot about the quest doesn't seem as visceral for the characters nor as integral to the overall story as I would have preferred. Still, the formula for the trilogy is a favorite of mine and the characters are exquisitely drawn. Their bonds, their friendships, and their love for each other are the driving force of this book and this series and I'm looking forward to gobbling up the second in the trilogy, Key of Knowledge.
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