Sunday, 20 January 2013

Key of Knowledge by Nora Roberts

Key of Knowledge (2003)
Nora Roberts
Grade: A
Genre: contemporary romance
Sex scenes: mild
Source: own
Key Trilogy: (1) Key of Light

It’s Dana Steele’s turn to step up to the plate. She’s been given 30 days to find the next key that will unlock the box containing the souls of the Daughters of Glass. She’s part of a centuries-old curse that saw the three souls of half-mortal princesses trapped until their modern counterparts can find the keys that will free them. Malory has succeeded with the first – further than any other has gone before – and Kane, the sorcerer who trapped said souls has upped his game in an effort to stop the two remaining keys from being found.

Dana’s key is that of knowledge or truth and as a librarian, her research skills are going to come in handy. Well, make that former librarian, because she’s just been fired by her nepotistic and vindictive boss who hates her guts. But no matter: Dana was going to resign shortly anyway, and the extra time on her hands just means she has more time to devote to finding the key. From the clue she’s been given, Dana is convinced that she’ll find the key in a book she’s read. This must be the first time she’s ever hated being a voracious reader; even with Malory and Zoe’s help, it’s going to take them some time to search through every book Dana has ever read.

Also key to finding the key is one Jordan Hawke. For two years, he and Dana were inseparable until he upped and moved to New York to get his career as a writer up and running – breaking Dana’s heart in the process. In the years since, the only way Dana has been able to protect herself from Jordan’s charms and stop her heart from breaking all over again has simply been to be as nasty as she can, but with Jordan in her face each and every day since he first came back to Pleasant Valley to involve himself in the quest, she’s finding it harder and harder to protect her heart.

As if Dana didn’t have enough to do, she has just committed to starting a business with her two new best friends. Indulgence will house a beauty salon, art gallery and bookshop, with the last being Dana’s domain. With the porch to paint, bookshelves and teacups to pick out as well as all the formal paperwork to get done, it’s a wonder that Dana’s getting anywhere with finding her key.

Kane’s breaking all the rules and he has good reason to be worried. No other group have ever made it through the first month with something to celebrate and for the first time in history, Kane’s victory isn’t looking so sweet. But as Dana’s encounters with the sorcerer are getting nastier and nastier and Rowena and Pitte, the trio’s guardians, trouble themselves with whether they can match Kane’s rule-breaking with some of their own, the days are ticking down much too fast … will Dana be able to make peace with Jordan in time for them to figure out the answer to the puzzle and bring the group one step closer towards the end goal?

Key of Knowledge was fabulous. Dana’s was perhaps my most anticipated story and for good reason: it’s her past-relationship with Jordan that does it for me and there’s nothing I like more than watching characters verbally spar and dodge each other for weeks before having lots of make-up monkey sex to get it all out of their system – which they never do, of course, so cue more sex. I have a feeling that Zoe and Brad’s book is going to be similar (more about that below) and I can’t begin to express my excitement about that.

I love that Dana is a librarian and she’s not one of those bun-on-top-of-her-head, middle-aged, stick-up-her-ass, shushing women that are the clichés of libraries. Dana is cool, has read and owns more books than even I could get through in my life and her refereeing of the longest-running trivia contest in the state puts my research skills to shame – though I think I’d have the edge when it comes to legal research. It’s always fantastic to meet a heroine who loves to read, and Dana is a treasure.

Jordan is also awesome. He and Dana have their love of books in common and it’s his writing that tore them apart all those years ago. Although he didn’t know it at the time, Dana had his heart and it’s only when she captures it for the second time that he realises what he truly feels for her – I can’t really ask for more. His friendship with Flynn and Brad is truly fascinating to me, mostly I think because I have three sisters and no brothers. It always astonishes me how NR can write friendship-bonds as if they’re family-bonds and the ties that bind Jordan, Flynn and Brad are no different. They have an easy camaraderie that I think would be amusing to watch unfold in real life and who wouldn’t want to be associated with these three gorgeous guys?

The main plot was really very good. NR does magic/supernatural well and I couldn’t help but be pulled into the story despite all the work I had to do at the time. I just kept coming back for more and I couldn’t stop myself. The encounters with Kane were chilling, unbelievably real and there’s a reason that NR is the best-selling author that she is today: she can tell a story. Pitte and Rowena are as much part of the story as the sextet and I always like reading their scenes because there’s always a sense of mystery and power and they’re on as much of a learning curve as those that will save them. I have absolutely no idea what book three holds in store for their fate.

Like I said, one of the things that made this book one of my favourites before I even started it was the fact that the hero and heroine already knew each other before the series started, were in a relationship and had a bad break-up that neither has really forgiven the other for despite all the time that has passed. Jordan always tries to be friendly whenever they see each other, but Dana’s so petty and scornful that he can’t help but meet her every insult. It’s wonderful. She was in love with him all that time ago and he didn’t know it, which only makes her heartbreak that bit more heart-breaking. Of course, there’s moments when I can’t help but take Dana’s side when confronted with how much of an asshole that Jordan was back then (the flashback to their break-up scene nearly made me cry) but I was definitely rooting for them all the way.

Brad and Zoe look like their relationship is going to be developing along similar lines. Zoe had an immediate dislike of Brad in the first book and her feelings and behaviour towards him are related to a bad history with a rich guy who was possibly her son Simon’s, father. We don’t know the full picture yet, but I’m getting the feeling that whenever Zoe looks at the rich, powerful and handsome Brad, all she sees is the bastard that did her over somehow. Simon is now nine (?) and Zoe has brought him up single-handedly and so it’s cool to see how easily Simon takes to Brad given her dislike of the latter. Zoe, of course, only gets more antagonised and since she won’t explain to Brad why she dislikes him so much, he only gets more frustrated when he’s around her. I love watching it the tension between them and I love that NR gave them more of a focus in Key of Knowledge as a kind of build-up to their own book.

There's a part of me that wants to buy Key of Valour right now so I can finish the series and get the answers to all these scenarios that are running amok in my head, but the other part is dragging its heels to further the anticipation and excitement for the time that I do actually get my hands on it. I can imagine that it's going to be an explosive ending that will secure the Key Trilogy a top placing as one of my favourite NR series - let's see how long I'm going to have to make myself wait to find out.

Image courtesy of Waterstones.

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