Face the Fire by Nora Roberts
(Jove, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-515-13287-X
***
Face the Fire is the last in a trilogy of tales about three women who face their destiny and use their powers to break an evil curse that threatens their island and the people they love. Beneath Face the Fire's witchcraft and spells, beats the heart of a fairly traditional romance - which may be a relief to those who think that no one is writing traditional romances these days.

Mia Devlin was born and raised on Three Sisters Island, an Island created to harbor innocents from the Salem witch trials. Although Mia is the most powerful witch on the island, no charm or spell can keep her from having to deal with Sam Logan reentering her life eleven years after he broke her teenage heart.

Sam has bought his family's hotel and he plans to stay on the island; he also plans to get Mia back. But Mia has no intention of falling back into Sam's arms. He hurt her too much when he left and she isn't eager to forgive and forget.

Mia Devlin has developed some pretty amazing powers by honing her craft over the years. She is going to need all her strength to protect her sisters and her island from the evil that wants to destroy her and everything she holds dear. Sam wants to help Mia but she isn't sure whether his help - and his love - will save her or be her doom.

Again, aside from an evil curse and some spells, Face the Fire is solid, traditional romance: Girl meets boy; girl loses boy; boy returns as a man and faces a woman who doesn't want to give him the time of day. The best part of Face the Fire is the beginning; Mia is the woman scorned who gives Sam the coldest of cold shoulders, and Sam is the man who will do anything to win her back.

However, once it becomes clear that the two will eventually get back together the storyline gets a little flat. I think the book could have sustained its initial rhythm if the evil had been stronger and more threatening to Mia. I needed to believe that it was possible for Mia and her sisters to lose their battle in order to stay glued to the pages.

Still, this story kept me company while I was waiting for a plane, and I was happy that I didn't need to read the first two books in this trilogy in order to understand the finale. Of course, what I really wanted to learn from this tale, and didn't, was how to work Mia's "glamour" spell - the one where she waves her hand over her pale, tired face and it changes into a perfectly made up, ready-to-face-any-camera type face. That certainly would have been well worth the cost of the book and then some.

--Judith Flavell


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