Series: The Key Trilogy, Book 2
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Length: 352 Pages, 5978 Locations
Formats: Mass Market Paperback, Kindle
Strong Second Installment
Once upon a time and beyond the Curtain of Power, the Curtain of Dreams, there lived three Celtic demigoddesses, sisters and daughters of a Celtic king and human woman. Some in their world revolted against their existence, offended by their links to mortality. One such god, Kane, rose up against the king and his progeny, and in a moment, a single moment when the demigoddesses' protectors had dropped their guard, he attacked with swift vengeance and wicked sorcery. In the aftermath, three souls were stolen and three sisters lay as if asleep, their souls captured in a box secured by three locks, three keys at their motionless feet. For three thousand years, the protectors have searched for the three mortals to find the three keys, and once in every generation since that dark day three potentials are born. In this generation, Malory Price has been called, Dana Steele has been called, Zoe McCourt has been called. For three thousand years, the potentials have failed. But this time...this time...
Dana Steele knew her part of the quest wouldn't be any easier than Malory's, but she has a lot of faith in her intelligence, and as a librarian, she has a whole library at her disposal for the research at which she excels. Well...until pride and persecution push her into quitting her job. But she can still figure out where her key is. Of course, it would be easier to concentrate if Jordan Hawke didn't keep getting in her way. Years ago she'd loved him with the passion of youth, but he destroyed that...destroyed her...when he left town. Now he's back, for however long that's going to last, and he's convinced he can help her - in fact, he's certain he's supposed to help her. Dana's certain they had the love of a lifetime, but that was a lifetime ago. Between searching for the second key and starting up her business with Malory and Zoe, Dana just doesn't have time for Jordan any more, no matter how much she still loves him.
Jordan knows what he lost all those years ago, and he has no intention of losing it again. He was drawn into this quest before he'd consciously decided to return to Pleasant Valley and he's determined to see it through. When Kane ups the stakes and tries to take a bite out of him, he knows he's right. He'll defy an evil god and stand beside Dana to the end. Even if he has to rewrite history to do so.
This second installment of Nora Roberts' The Key Trilogy hits a bit harder than the first, and without the necessary world building and exposition set up that came in the first book, Key of Light, Roberts hit the ground running here, providing broader and deeper character definition for both Dana and Jordan, and adding a lot of fun scenes for the rest of the cast, as well. It's obvious that the plot has been ratcheted up a notch and the danger is a bit more pointed, both of which increase the pressure and intensity, but there's also more room given to the emotional development and relationship here that was very pleasing.
I always enjoy a lead character who is an author, and Roberts did that particularly well with Jordan. It lends a genuine feeling of authenticity to his character, most notably concerning his work and his passion for writing. It's possible that was straight fiction, of course, but it felt so natural and true that I can't help but guess that there were a few Roberts' truisms in his personality. So too Dana's character and her love of reading. As I happen to share what is, frankly, a reading obsession, I felt very comfortable and familiar with a character who seemed in many ways a kindred spirit. I truly liked them, as individuals and as romantic leads.
As a general rule, it is usually the second book of a trilogy that I find most telling for the overall arc of the trilogy, and in this book, I saw a couple of glimmers of tarnish on the brass ring. Rules set in the first book seemed to break here, and characters didn't seem to be able to recognize simple patterns of Big Bad behavior that seemed a little obvious to me as a reader. Part of that was accounted for with the twisting and evolving mythos of the battle Kane is waging to keep those keys hidden, but I wasn't totally able to buy this sudden alteration after 3,000 years. It seemed a little too convenient when danger and threat needed to be raised in the plot. Still, that's strictly a plot issue and frankly, that's never been the strongest motivation for my reading these sorts of Roberts' trilogies.
The characters consistently draw me, and the relationships are stellar here in this trilogy. I'm very fond of how everyone fits together, and enjoy their idiosyncrasies and foibles that make each of them so individual and real. I was heartened by the consistency of characterization in Malory and Flynn (though with Roberts as the author, character inconsistency is virtually unheard of), and charmed anew by the few scenes with Zoe and Brad. I can't wait to see their sparks ignite in the conclusion, Key of Valor. I'm enjoying this trilogy very much, despite a few small issues with the plot of the quest, and the characters are definitely making it a thoroughly entertaining trip.
The Key Trilogy: