I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.
I'm going to start with the end of this book (no spoilers, I promise) and mention that it seems Ms. Roberts is publishing her 200th book soon. 200! Prolific much? With that many stories running through her head, I'd hate to see inside her brain; the tangle of plots, characters, settings. Truly impressive.
Having said that, I must now admit that this is the first Nora Roberts book I've ever read. Not even the mysteries she's written as J.D. Robb have made their way into my library or reading list.
See, I tend to shy away from romance novels. All that love bursting out, clothes being ripped, teeth mashing together during those wild kisses. I've done that - the teeth mashing together - it hurts!!! Don't get me wrong - I like a little romance in my reads, but I tend to enjoy them much more when they're a sub-plot, not the main focus. The characters get to keep most of their wardrobes intact and I still get the sexual tension.
But this book was titled "Dark Witch". I like witches. Blame Bewitched or Practical Magic, but I'm a sucker for a good witch story. So I thought, well, perhaps Ms. Roberts has branched out beyond romance at some point and into paranormal and I've been missing the boat. So I bought it and dove into it as soon as it arrived.
Loved it. I become totally immersed in this book, even though it is more of a love-bursting-clothes-ripping-teeth-mashing book than I expected. Even if the MC is a bit too wounded-sparrow. She's very spirited, but the author makes sure we are routinely reminded that this poor girl has Gone Without.
The setting is Ireland in all its hilly, green, verdant, mythic glory. I was there. I was in those woods, her room at the castle, the stables, the workshop, Boyle's apartment. Not once did I struggle to find a sense of place or setting.
I liked all the characters. Not a one of them came off as anything more or less than they should have been. No one was annoying, bitchy, whiny or smarmy. The charming ones were charming, the taciturn, properly taciturn. The evil, truly evil in a properly black way. Every one of them I'd have a pint with (or a G&T as the case may be) - well, except for the evil one, of course. As I mentioned above, the MC was a bit of a wounded sparrow, but most of that came through in the narration, not in her dialogue. She is a babbler though, and I found myself thinking, "oh honey, shut up do!" a time or two, but always with a smile or an internal chuckle.
The plot itself - well there's actually two plot lines. The witchy battle, and the romance. They pretty much run in parallel. The witchy one was, of course, my favourite. Lots of magic, lots of confrontation with creepy evil guy. Quite a few moments where I felt a bit of adrenaline running through my own self. Absolutely loved this part.
The romance. Well I certainly liked the two of them together. And I give Ms. Roberts huge props for not being formulaic (I kept waiting for Boyle to turn out to be a "bad guy" she had to save). The sexual tension was well written too. But overall, it was a bit fairy tale-ish.
There's only one thing that's tripped me up and left me wondering. I don't think I'm giving anything away that isn't mentioned in the first two chapters of the book, so I'm not gonna spoiler tag it. Sorcha's power was divided amongst her three children and was to be passed down each of their lines. But in present day, two of the three are brother/sister. There's an ancestral lineage missing and it's never explained why or how one branch ended up with two of the powers.
Overall, a really lovely read. The second and third books each focus on a different cousin, which I usually do not like, but in this case, I think it will be welcome. Luckily, this prolific woman writes fast (200 freaking books!) so I only have to wait 6 months or so for the next one.