Key of Light by Nora Roberts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
As the first book in the series, Key of Light did the job: it set the story arc up, introduced all the main characters and, in the end, wrapped up the first couple's love story in a nice HEA.
The PNR aspect of the story was interesting, with a gothic vibe that was eerie and unexpected. An old mansion named Warrior's Peak, guarded by gargoyles, sitting at the top of a hill surrounded by mist... A dark and stormy night... A woman driving alone, wondering what she was going to find at the mansion... That was on the first pages of the book and, no matter how cliché that was, I was chilled to the bone and wondering if Malory, the heroine, would turn out to be one of those TSTL blondes whose aim in life is to step willingly into the arms of death just to keep the story going. Thankfully, it wasn't like that and the story moved along quite nicely, once Malory and her newfound friends/partners Dana and Zoe, the heroines in the following books in the series, were presented with the task they were supposed to do: find the keys that would release the souls of three demigoddesses who had been imprisoned hundreds of years ago. I'm not going into details here, but the tale about their lives was very charming and romantic - regardless of the sad ending, that is.
Flynn, Dana's brother, joined the quest for the keys in no time, even though he was skeptical about the whole thing... Well, all of them were skeptical at first, but they changed their minds when strange things started to happen. Back to Flynn... He was the all-around good guy, charming, seductive and, of course, commitment-shy. Malory was soon in love with him - who could blame her? :) - and he was in too, even though it took him longer to see it that way. There was really no conflict in their relationship, and that was a problem for me. Not that I wanted them to go all angsty or start a fight just for the sake of it, but there wasn't anything that prevented them from being together and their relationship felt kind of boring to me.
On the other hand, I think NR did a much better job when it came to showing Flynn's friendship with Jordan and Brad - not coincidentally, the heroes in the next books in the series. I actually thought that Flynn's scenes with his friends were more interesting than his scenes with Malory, and that's not a good thing in Romancelandia. Malory's scenes with Dana and Zoe were less entertaining and felt a little too juvenile to me. They would have been more fitting if they had been in their early twenties, IMHO.
There's a lot of talk about symbolism and coincidences in this book: some interesting, some confusing. I thought the "key" Malory was supposed to find was only a metaphor but it turned out to be "real" - or the next best thing, since this is a PNR story. As for the ending, I was as fooled by Malory's trick as the villain: I thought Flynn would have to rescue her with a bang, but I should have known that she was smart enough to do it by herself. Girl Power, yay! ;)
All things considered, this was an overall good, although not stellar, read for a nice and lazy afternoon/evening. And, referring to the first paragraph above, it did the job: I'm interested enough in keep reading the series.
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