Birthright
Born In Fire
Born In Ice
Born In Shame
Captive Star
Carolina Moon
Chesapeake Blue
Considering Kate
Cordina's Crown Jewel
Dance Upon the Air
Daring To Dream
Enchanted
Face the Fire
Finding the Dream
From The Heart
Heart of the Sea
Hidden Star
Holding the Dream
Homeport
Inner Harbor
Irish Rebel
Jewels of the Sun
The MacGregor Brides
The MacGregor Grooms
The MacGregors Alan~Grant
Megan's Mate
Midnight Bayou
Montana Sky
Once Upon a Castle
The Perfect Neighbor
The Reef
Rising Tides
River's End
Sanctuary
Seaswept
Secret Star
Tears of the Moon
Three Fates
True Betrayals
The Villa
Waiting for Nick
The Winning Hand

 
Key of Light by Nora Roberts
Jove, $7.99, PG-13) 0-515-13628-X
****
Once Upon a Time there was a very talented author . . . and very prolific. This author was so accomplished that she frequently treated readers to trilogies. If one story line was satisfying, then she had the skill to expand it to three stories. By a rough count, I think there are nine trilogies in Nora Roberts’ repertoire. Occasionally she expands our enjoyment to four books (Chesapeake series) and five or more (think MacGregors, Donovans, Ukranians and the Night series). And who could forget Eve Dallas? Seventeen and counting, but again that’s another rough count.

So is this talent or magic? Perhaps there’s a reason that many of Nora Roberts’ books have magic as a central theme. It’s the same theme in her newest trilogy, Key of Light, Key of Knowledge and Key of Valor, all to be released in consecutive months. Legends and myths abound. Three women meet one dark and stormy night. Clichéd yes, but effective. Malory, Zoe and Dana each receive an invitation to a party at a local home, one with a colorful and mysterious aura. Upon arrival, the three women discover that they are the only ones with invitations. As they talk to each other, they also discover other similarities. All three are on the verge of losing their jobs. A bond is forged and it’s a good thing, because all three are offered a quest that will change their lives.

Their hosts are as mysterious and alluring as their home. Rowena and Pitte offer the women a chance to earn a great deal of money. All they need to do is find the three keys that open a mysterious box of souls; it holds three young princesses who have been imprisoned by paranormal means. If all or any of them do not find the keys, then the quest is over. The downside is that each will lose a year of their lives. That codicil gives each of them pause and some fear as to the true implications of what failure could cause them to lose. And the kicker is that each woman has only twenty-eight days to find her key.

Malory, Zoe and Dana are personable, charming and lively. While Key of Light is Malory’s story, I really liked getting to know all three women. This knowledge bodes well for the remaining two stories. This trio of friendship adds a dimension to the story. Another layer is added when the men are introduced, themselves all lifelong friends.

Malory first meets Flynn Hennessy when she’s lovingly attacked by Moe, Flynn’s doofus of a charming dog. I kept thinking of a friendly Marmaduke type of dog. Moe is himself often a source of comic relief, and described as “pathologically friendly.” Flynn owns the local newspaper and is also Dana’s brother. His two friends will find themselves attracted to Dana and Zoe. Flynn is a reluctant hero, but he does rise to the challenge, as is true with most of Nora's memorable heroes.

Reading this story, I tried to analyze what about it made it so enjoyable. First and foremost, Nora Roberts’ use of humor is accomplished. It’s never forced but always seems fresh and timely. While I knew that there was a source of evil that all the women must meet and triumph, it was not an all-encompassing evil, something like Stephen King could conjure up, yet it is kept in perspective. I was never uncomfortable knowing that evil is lurking; I suppose that I was kept entertained with the humor and the incredibly savvy dialogue.

Malory is a bright and talented gallery manager. Art and the beauty it provides is an integral part of her life. Dana is a librarian who is far from stereotypical. Bless you, Nora, for making her quirky and not self-effacing. When Dana informs Malory that she threw away her Laura Ashley uniform, I wanted to cheer. Zoe is a beautician/stylist who frequently gives beauty tips advice. Being with these three is reminiscent of a 24/7 slumber party.

The subsequent two books are reunions, which is one of the primary reasons that I like trilogies. That continuity is a joy for those of us who enjoy the talent of Nora Roberts. If fiction could be transformed into reality, I’d like to know these six characters. Realistically, I know that I have to be satisfied with just reading about them. And you know, with a Nora Roberts story that’s enough. That joy and pleasure in itself is magical.

--Linda Mowery


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