Series: The Cousins O'Dwyer #1
Published by Penguin on October 29, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Paranormal
Pages: 368 pages
With indifferent parents, Iona Sheehan grew up craving devotion and acceptance. From her maternal grandmother, she learned where to find both: a land of lush forests, dazzling lakes, and centuries-old legends.
County Mayo, to be exact. Where her ancestors’ blood and magic have flowed through generations—and where her destiny awaits.
Iona arrives in Ireland with nothing but her Nan’s directions, an unfailingly optimistic attitude, and an innate talent with horses. Not far from the luxurious castle where she is spending a week, she finds her cousins, Branna and Connor O’Dwyer. And since family is family, they invite her into their home and their lives.
When Iona lands a job at the local stables, she meets the owner, Boyle McGrath. Cowboy, pirate, wild tribal horsemen, he’s three of her biggest fantasy weaknesses all in one big, bold package.
Iona realizes that here she can make a home for herself—and live her life as she wants, even if that means falling head over heels for Boyle. But nothing is as it seems. An ancient evil has wound its way around Iona’s family tree and must be defeated. Family and friends will fight with each other and for each other to keep the promise of hope—and love—alive…
The set up
Iona Sheehan risks everything when she quits her job, sells everything she owns and moves from Baltimore, Maryland to County Mayo, Ireland, her ancestral homeland. She seeks out her cousins, Branna, a Dark Witch, and Connor O’Dwyer, that her grandmother has told her so much about, determined to find that connection she’s craved all her life. Iona gets more than she ever hoped for when her cousins embrace her and help her get a job with their friend Boyle McGrath, doing what she loves…caring for and riding horses.
The story begins with the medieval tale of Sorcha, the first Dark Witch, who took on Cabhan, an evil sorcerer. She passed her powers to her three children who in turn have done the same with their descendants. With Iona’s arrival, the circle is now complete and the cousins must now contend with what evil remains from Cabhan. Iona is a novice and needs to hone her skills before they have to face his challenge. And, she’s distracted by her developing romance with the gruff but sexy Boyle.
What worked for me
I absolutely loved that this story takes place in Ireland, complete with the vernacular in the dialogue between the characters. The men in this story are highly appealing…Boyle, with his tough and serious but sexy manner….Connor, who is lighthearted and generous, and Fin, who’s dark with emerald eyes focused only on Branna, the most skilled of the witches who makes the paranormal aspect of the story exciting.
Iona was delightful, though others may disagree. I found her sunny disposition uplifting in light of her dismal upbringing. Her joy was infectious, inspired her cousins and threw the serious Boyle completely off balance. While their romance edged up against that old “insta-love”storyline, it was knocked back into reality in an almost heartbreaking way. It made it much more interesting and emotional.
What some have said
There are comparisons to Nora’s Key and Three Sisters Island trilogies but it felt fresh to me. I didn’t see those connections and have read both. Maybe the setting made this story a standout for me as I didn’t want to put the book down.
The bottom line
I loved the Celtic lore, the witchcraft, the romance, the setting and the characters. I liked Iona and Boyle, primarily because of her enthusiasm as I connected with her circumstances. The book set the stage for the next stories in this trilogy and I’m anxiously anticipating them. If you’ve never read anything by Nora, this would be a great series to start. It’s also pretty interesting for those of us that already have many of her stories already read on our shelves. I think it’s a winner.
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