Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Key of Light by Nora Roberts

Key of Light (2003)
Nora Roberts
Grade: A
Genre: contemporary romance / supernatural / magic
Sex scenes: mild
Source: library
Key: (1) Key of Light

It has not been a good day for Malory Price and she is in danger of seeing her Malory Price Life Plan go down the drain after twenty years of careful planning. She’s had her dream job at The Gallery for seven years, but has almost got herself fired in a single day. Not only did she call her boss’s new wife a bimbo, but she then spilt a latte on said bimbo’s suit (genuinely by accident) and is now driving through a storm to the magnificent Warrior’s Peak after an ominous invitation to a party that no one else Malory knows has been invited to. What she finds is beyond her wildest dreams …

It quickly becomes apparent that Malory and two other women are the Peak’s only guests. Dana Steele is a librarian and single mother Zoe McCourt is a hairdresser; besides being more-or-less the same age, they have never met and have little in common. Or so they think. All are agreed that this ‘party’ is more than a tad creepy, but their hosts, the stunning Rowena and majestic Pitte have no bad intentions towards these three women ... on the contrary, Malory, Dana and Zoe could be their saviours …

With the storm brewing in the background, Rowena and Pitte tell a magical tale of how three beautiful daughters were born to a God-father and mortal mother. Not all in their kingdom were happy to be ruled by half-mortals and the souls of Niniane, Venora and Kyna were stolen and trapped in what became known as the Box of Souls. Each generation, three women are born who possess the power to free the daughters and none have yet succeeded. A lump sum of $25,000 is enough to tempt any person and the final reward of $1,000,000 if they succeed is beyond all of their greatest dreams, but what influences the decision of Malory, Dana and Zoe more than anything else is being confronted with a twelfth century painting of the Daughters of Glass that resemble the trio completely …

Art is Malory’s thing and she knows without doubt that this painting is both important and genuine. Once they all accept the challenge, one is chosen and has from new moon to new moon to find the first key. If one fails, all fail; if Malory succeeds, the time starts ticking for the second. She doesn’t have a moment to lose.

Being knocked flat on your ass by a guy’s dog sure leaves a lasting impression. When Moe’s owner, Flynn, turns out to be Dana’s stepbrother, things get a whole lot worse, in Malory’s opinion. She doesn’t have time for a nosy journalist and certainly not one with a huge, slobbery, ill-mannered dog, but Flynn is persistent and Moe loveable. As Flynn’s part in the quest is cemented, so is that of his two best friends: Bradley Charles Vane IV, heir apparent to America’s largest home improvement service, and Jordan Hawke, best-selling author. Both own paintings linked to The Daughters of Glass and unmistakeably painted by the same hand. With dark forces closing in and Rowena and Pitte unable to offer more guidance, Malory, Dana and Zoe as well as Flynn, Jordan and Brad must solve the riddle of the clue and paintings to find the key before their time is up …

This is my newest favourite series. NR doesn’t often blow me away, but this is one of those occasions that makes me ask myself why the heck haven’t I picked up this series before. The Dream trilogy was probably the last time this happened and I am fast running out of NR books for this to happen again. Magically addictive.

I love Malory. She’s smart, assertive, a snappy dresser and knows what she wants. Until a combination of a tasteless bimbo wife, centuries-long curse and a man and his over-eager dog slam her HEA-plan right out of her, that is. Malory isn’t afraid of the challenge and her courage in stepping up to the plate is admirable. I love how she is slowly won round by the effusive Moe and even comes to accept Flynn’s butt ugly – but hellishly comfy – green plaid couch. When she realises she’s in love with him, Malory doesn’t waste any time: he’s the first to know and despite being scared shitless, Malory doesn’t back down when he finds it hard to say the words back. If she had to handcuff Flynn to her forever, she would do it, but luckily he needs no such restraints.

Flynn has his flaws and although some make him the bigger, better man, there’s one trope here that I’m always torn between grudgingly accepting and hating. It may not have been used as drastically as I’ve read elsewhere, but the signs were still here. It’s that one where the hero has had his heart screwed around by one woman, so is convinced that every other woman is exactly-bloody-the-same. It’s annoying and while Flynn is nowhere near as bad as some, his hang-ups about his ex are still jarring. Yes, it’s character development blah blah blah and it makes him realise that his love for Malory is true and real and pure and whatnot, but it’s just old and tired and needs to stop being dragged out and used all the time like that favourite piece of clothing that is more holes than fabric that you really should throw away but can’t bring yourself to.

Malory and Flynn are a great match and it’s been a fantastic opener to the series. I’ve often found with NR that while the first book is brilliant, the next two often don’t quite match up to that expectation that I’ve built up. I’m hoping that Key of Knowledge and Key of Valour are the exceptions to this. While Malory and Flynn were awesome, I have very high hopes that Dana and Jordan and then Zoe and Brad will be even more so. It seems that lately, I’m forever reading books only to look forward to the next/others more (Rainshadow Road, Notorious, The Hunter and The Hunted) and Key of Light is no exception. The Key trilogy sees each heroine of the couple start out despising the hero to varying degrees and this always makes for an explosive story, NR or otherwise. Dana and Jordan had a relationship in the past which ended badly; both were hurt and Dana is very vocal about her hatred for Jordan who can’t help but still love her. Brad bought his painting partly because Dana, sister of his best friend was in it, but also because he fell in love with Zoe’s face. He becomes a bumbling idiot when in her presence despite her very clear signs that she hates him. Zoe knows his type and isn’t about to let her heart get trampled on again. It’s going to be awesome.

I loved this book. It’s become one of my favourite NR novels and definitely a book that I could read again and again. I was a little lost at times amongst all the magic and visions and alternate worlds, but this is something that can be cured by another reading. NR’s set herself up nicely for the two books to follow and I’m desperate to see the culmination of Dana and Jordan’s relationship as well as Zoe and Brad’s. Perhaps not ideal reading material if you’re a NR virgin, but that’s another post for another day.

Image courtesy of Book Depository

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