Born In Fire
Born In Ice
Born In Shame
Captive Star
Carolina Moon
Daring To Dream
Finding the Dream
From The Heart
Hidden Star
Holding the Dream
Inner Harbor
Irish Rogue
Jewels of the Sun
The MacGregor Brides
The MacGregor Grooms
The MacGregors Alan~Grant
Megan's Mate
Montana Sky
Once Upon a Castle
The Perfect Neighbor
The Reef
Rising Tides
River's End
Secret Star
Tears of the Moon
True Betrayals
Waiting for Nick
The Winning Hand

As J. D. Robb

Ceremony in Death
Conspiracy in Death
Holiday in Death
Immortal In Death
Loyalty in Death
Rapture in Death
Silent Night
Vengeance in Death
Witness in Death

Heart of the Sea by Nora Roberts
(Jove, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-515-12855-4
Heart of the Sea is the concluding segment of Nora Roberts’ latest Irish trilogy. It’s an entertaining read, mixing contemporary romance with a touch of Irish mysticism and two star-crossed ghosts. No doubt it will find its way onto many a keeper shelf. And not having read the first two (still in the TBR pile), I’m happy to report that it stands nicely on its own.

Having said that, Darcy Gallagher, the heroine, is not going to work for some readers. In the end I quite liked her, but it was a long road to get there.

Trevor Magee has come to the small Irish village of Ardmore to build a theatre and try to discover the land his grandfather left many years before. Wealthy, hardworking, and emotionally remote, Trevor isn’t looking for any sort of romantic entanglement. Then he meets Darcy Gallagher, and his interest is immediately piqued.

Darcy’s spectacular Irish colleen looks are a perfect package for her ambitions. She wants to taste the Good Life - as in material wealth and a man to indulge her. Until such a man comes along, she’s more than happy to dally with the handsome Yank laying brick under her window. Trevor, for his part, is quite willing to dally with the most beautiful girl in the village, one who is frank about her ambitions.

They are about to get some help, courtesy of a three-hundred-year-old curse. The lady Gwen haunts Faerie Hill Cottage; her lover, Carrick, haunts the open fields and night sky, where he rides a white horse. Two pairs of lovers have they brought together; one more pair must be matched. But this road to romance will be strewn with boulders.

Trevor soon finds he’s genuinely enamored of witty, forthright Darcy. If she wants material wealth, he can give it to her, and in spectacular fashion. Darcy, while tentatively enjoying the luxury Trevor can afford, finds it’s his heart she’s really after. And so, having been honest about what they want, these two find it’s not what they want at all.

Trevor is a terrific hero - intelligent, down to earth, and above all, introspective. This is not a man to delude himself with “I’ll never love anyone” nonsense. Oh no. When he falls, he’s fully aware of it. His change from aloof businessman to a man desperate to convince his love that his feelings are honest is delightful.

Darcy was, initially at least, more problematic. She’s portrayed as having a lovely singing voice, but her tune seems to be “Santa Baby”. Trevor’s attempt to give her a weekend of luxury pleases her just a bit too much. Private jet - check. Jeweled bracelet - check. London townhouse with servants - check. She enjoys it, and lets Trevor know it, which makes the climax mostly a problem of her own making. I felt he got a bit of a raw deal, although her emotional humbling was gratifying. Darcy’s gradual maturation from self-absorbed material girl to a woman who can deal with the ups and downs of real love forms the backbone of the story. She’s a complex and sometimes uncomfortable character, and that readers end up sympathizing with her is a tribute to the author’s storytelling abilities.

As for Carrick and Gwen, they pop in and out of the story, offering oft-unheeded advice to these two messed-up lovers, but in the end all ends happily. Readers may be a bit disappointed with how quickly Gwen and Carrick’s story is wrapped up. After serving such instrumental roles, I felt they deserved more time in the spotlight.

All in all, Heart of the Sea will no doubt please Nora Roberts’ legion of fans. If you feel like spending a wee bit o’ time in Ireland, this book will no doubt transport you and bring you back smiling.

--Cathy Sova

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