In 1273, Sorcha, the Dark Witch, engages in mortal battle with the evil Cabhan, sacrificing her life to protect her three young children. Cabhan is left damaged, but unvanquished. Sorcha's last gift is to divide her her magical powers and bond each to horses, dogs or hawks. In the present day, American Iona Sheehan arrives in Ireland seeking understanding of her heritage as a descendant of Sorcha's youngest daughter, Teagan. She is embraced by cousins Branna and Connor O'Dwyer and their close-knit circle of friends. Her attraction to the gruff stablemaster, Boyle McGrath offers the hope that she at last will find the permanence and love she was always denied. Roberts, trodding familiar ground with this opening chapter in the O'Dwyer saga, does a wonderful job developing the 800 years long feud between the indomitable Sorcha and evil Cabhan. The opening chapters start strong and draw the reader in. If only the present day story kept up the tension. Iona's arrival trigger's the long-awaited showdown with Cabhan. While the witchy elements and obligatory friends, family and Irish setting work well in this book, the romantic pairing is less convincing.
The book will please Roberts fans and is a fair read in general. It is not her strongest story, nor does it evoke Ireland as well as other trilogies.
Katherine Kellgren, brilliant in Rhys Bowen's Royal Spyness series, is not well-matched here. Her delivery is terrible in many ways from characterization, to pitch to volume. The women, with the exception Iona, all sound old and craggy. I can't imagine Branna and Maura as heroines with these old crone voices.There is very little of the lilt that one would expect from west country Irish folk in any of the characters. Those that know Darcy O'Mara's warm brogue will be shocked at the harsh Irish accents. The many scenes with witchy incantations and magical conflict are delivered in harsh yells that hurt the ears. This isn't the Katherine Kellgren I know and have enjoyed elsewhere.
Better to read than listen.
I suggest having KK rerecord the narration. She is capable of better. As it is, I can't recommend the audio version.
This was my first (and last) Victoria Alexander story. Disappointing because I was very intrigued by the set-up. Miranda and Win are thrown together to oversee the rebuilding of his family's 300 year old estate house. She's hiding her true role in the architectural firm hired to restore the burnt remains, he's thrice-burned at love. I usually like character driven stories but couldn't work up an interest in either of them. The dialogue and plot points continually pulled me from the story. I never write reviews although I have over 100 audiobooks in my library. This one was so disappointing I had to warn off other readers.
I did not enjoy Michael Page at all. It's tough for men to do an effective job with women's voices, particularly in historical romance. I was prepared to forgive much. But even his male voices were unsexy and grating. I gave him a single star.
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