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on 27 March 2014
‘Shadow Spell’ written by Nora Roberts is second installment in ‘The Cousins O’Dwyer’ trilogy that brings a continuation of successful formula – a love story wrapped in magical setting.

In first part of trilogy reader was introduced to Iona Sheehan who left whole past life behind her and moved from Baltimore to County Mayo in Ireland, where her family originates.

Iona is searching for her cousins that her grandmother spoke a lot about - a Dark Witch Branna and Connor O'Dwyer, in order to finally understand something about herself that she still cannot understand and find the thread that connects her life to the past of her family. Iona will be warmly accepted by her relatives and will be offered to care and ride horses, a job that she dreamed of.

The story in the present will be interweaved with the stories of the past while reader learns about Sorcha, who was the first Dark Witch that courageously fought with an evil sorcerer named Cabhan. Sorcha’s magical abilities passed on her three children that need to repeat the same procedure with their descendants and so the story will bring reader up to the present time, to Iona’s coming.

The magical circle is now complete and while gradually through the story a romance between Iona and the stables owner, Boyle McGrath is developing, the three cousins need to fight together what remained of their old family nemesis Cabhan…

The second part of the trilogy Roberts has written in a way that it can be read as a stand-alone although because of the many references it will be more comprehensible to those who have read the predecessor.

‘Shadow Spell’ speaks about other two of twelve characters the previous novel introduced - Meara Quinn and Connor O'Dwyer - longtime friends who will one night because of a kiss realize that something much more serious is starting to happen between them. Both Meara and Connor are asking themselves whether they will lose their friendship for love what is even more important because of the close ties and common villain that all main characters of this story share…

Nora Roberts with her second novel picks up where the first stopped, elaborating new story events that are mainly concerned to two new central characters, not neglecting overall plot that slowly unravels introducing reader to the final part of the trilogy, which will soon follow.

Great was her idea to place the story in Ireland which in her description becomes very magical place, a perfect setting for an action that is happening on the pages of her novel.

Although the story may be objected for the occasional predictable events or general direction in which the story goes, still this is a book that will be highly welcomed by fans of author’s work, previous ‘Cousins O’Dwyer’ installment and all those that love to read about magic and romance, a combination that Nora Roberts once again successfully delivered.
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VINE VOICEon 26 February 2015
This bland second instalment of the Cousins O'Dwyer trilogy follows on from Dark Witch and continues the centuries old saga of a family of witches descended from the original Dark Witch of County Mayo, Sorcha whose battle with evil sorcerer Cabhan led to her death and the prophesy that three of her line would ultimate vanquish evil with the help of their inherited magic. In Dark Witch we were introduced to the cousins and their friends/lovers who form the modern 'second' circle of six, when American cousin Iona came to Ireland to learn magic and found her place with her Irish cousins and romance with non-magical stable owner and family friend Boyle. This novel continues in the same vein, focusing on Connor whose magical guide is a hawk rather than a horse, and is equally committed in the quest of finishing off the family nemesis, discovering his love for childhood friend Meara along the way.

This was such a dreary mess of a book - I liked Connor best of the three cousins from the initial book as he was cheerful, caring and seemed more relatable than the poor-me pseudo orphan Iona, or the slightly haughty Branna, but as a romance hero he was woefully passive and never developed any depth as a protagonist. The story began with a lengthy prologue set in the Dark Ages with the original three, again this proved to be the most entertaining part of the novel as we discovered what became of Sorcha's children after their mother's death when they fled Mayo for County Clare. Connor is quickly embroiled in a fight with Evil!Cabhan, a poorly written melodramatic pantomime dame of a villain who periodically pops up to cause trouble for the protagonists, and to remind you that this is nominally a paranormal book rather than straight romance. Connor is badly wounded and overcome by this near loss Meara Quinn, his sister's best friend, reveals her love for him by jumping on him in one of the few amusing scenes, knocked for six by this declaration of love Connor and Meara begin a bland romance with an equally predictable and nonsensical fight along the way, which breaks them up temporarily.

The biggest issue with this trilogy other than the fact that this is Nora by Numbers - if you have read any of her other trilogies you will spot repetitions of plot, and stock characters throughout - is that none of the characters have any depth. Poor pacing hinders the trilogy, which might have been better had it been confined to a single book as the action is stilted. The characters' strategising and studying is peppered with endless talks about fighting Dark with the power of Light and love, but ultimately their actions have no real impact to defeat the villain as there is still one more romance and novel to go before the series is complete. There are other major flaws also - we never get a real sense of what drives Connor or feel any heat or chemistry between him and Meara, despite the fact that their love has been simmering for decades. The novel and characters suffered from being too insulated; they rarely interact with anyone outside their 'circle' and rotate between the main character's poorly described but impossibly lavish properties; this robs the novel of any urgency or verisimilitude, as all the properties are magically protected, leaving Cabhan to stalk them outside the home on riding trails or country roads.

I liked Meara best of the female characters and the most interesting chapters and plot points of the modern story are her dutiful tending of her mother and her family scenes serve well to characterise them both, but the mother is quickly shipped off to a sibling, which further decreases the dramatic stakes. There are some weak moments of character building, which aren't resolved - how does Meara link to the original three and where on earth did she learn to master sword fighting? The revelation that Meara's family were once wealthy enough to have staff and a big mansion felt very out of character and nothing is developed to show their fall in status other than it being a convenient way to give her the Daddy Issues which are supposed to make her love for Connor insurmountable.

Cabhan is a weak villain who suffers from a lack of clearly defined goals - all we and the main characters know is that he can shape-shift and wants their powers badly, everything else I suspect is being held back for a dramatic final battle in the instalment leaving this book largely redundant as escapist fantasy in a modern setting. This isn't worth buying especially at the inflated prices for both physical and digital copies. If you want to read a Nora Roberts where she deals with childhood friends falling in love, read Daring to Dream instead and if you want to read one of her more superior romance and magic novels start with either the Gallagher trilogy or the Three Sister's Island trilogy; both are far better written.
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I just love Nora Roberts books when she puts a bit of magic in them I love getting lost in them and I always do when she mixes in both the past and the furture
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on 4 April 2014
Obviously. I disliked the first installment in this series sufficiently to have been warned, but no, I've been such a fan of Nora Roberts that I overrode my own instincts.

If you've read a Roberts trilogy, particularly one in the supernatural vein, you can predict how this is going to go. In the past, it wasn't such a big deal, because there were innovations here and there. Here, there's nothing new, and if anything, it's worse: all the characters do is talk and 'study'; they eat a lot of meals where they argue; they take actions that have no measurable effect on their goal, and the couple at the centre of this one had little to no spark at all. Their attraction was poorly foreshadowed, in the first book — Dark Witch, had to look it up, couldn't even remember! — and when they did get together, the impediments to their union were not all that... impedimentary.

There was so little action! So little of the usual meticulous scene-setting that was in the early novels. So little action that actually moved the plot forward. The Irish stuff drove me demented, as I live in Ireland — there was no sense of the real place that is Ashford Castle, the slang was appalling and about twenty years old, and if you don't know how to properly spell 'eejit', then don't even bother in the first instance.

It's a shame, because some of my favourite novels of all time are by this author. I'm still sticking with the In Death books, despite all indications to the contrary that they're going down the same road...
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on 26 March 2014
First off, let me just say that I LOVE Nora Roberts. The woman is an amazing romance writer and I pre-order everything she's ever written. But no more. The first book of this trilogy was a huge disappointment and I was hoping for a little of the Robert's sparkle to hit this one in book two of the trilogy. So I took a risk. But, no.

The back story reads like a Grimm's fairy tale and takes up the first three chapters. By then, I was sick and tired and just wanted the story to get on with it. It wasn't until chapter five that I even knew who the heroine was and by then I didn't really care. Because I was not emotionally invested in these characters, I felt there was absolutely no chemistry between this pair - the same thing happened with book one. And the chemistry between the couple tagged for book three is pitiful. It's the first time reading a Roberts book that I feel that all the characters are two dimensional. And that is a real shame because the woman can write fabulous characters. With this lot I could care less. The story dragged and I skipped lots of narrative just get to the end.

For the first time I will not be automatically buying book three. And that's a real shame. For the first time I felt Ms Robert's heart was not really in this story - and it shows.
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on 11 May 2014
Sometimes with a trilogy the second book can be a little disappointing as though the author was trying to fill the gap between the start and the finale. None of that with this second novel in the trilogy. It allowed a more in depth understanding of the characters and built on the first book in an interesting way while maintaining the storyline and action levels. Really didn't want to put this down and can't wait for the final novel. Excellent read that I'd thoroughly recommend to everyone who enjoys this genre.
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on 1 April 2014
This book is a huge disappointment. I have all Nora's books and this is the worst of the lot. I would usually sit and read a new book by Nora in 2 sittings. I have had this for a week and I'm only 2 thirds of the way though and most of that has been skipped over.The story does not flow and is mostly drivel.
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on 30 December 2014
Oh my goodness.

The best of the trilogy - the Conor story kept me enthralled!
This book really brings out the other characters and gives you a sense of who they are - the romance is also incredibly beatiful and stunningly written by Roberts.

Whilst the trilogy is similar to others, this book has now found a place in my 'all time Roberts' list.

That is all.
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on 3 January 2015
The worst series of books I have every read. The plots are thin, predictable and repetitive across the entire series. From the first book, page 1, I could tell you how the trilogy would end. Unfortunately I have to know what happens to characters, even in terrible books so I spent an exhausting few days forging through them to the end.
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on 29 January 2016
The second of the Cousins O'Dwyer trilogy and this book centres on Connor and his childhood friend Meara and their blossoming relationship into love . Connor has always loved Meara but she has a tough independent streak and coupled with the fact her dad left her mum years before scares her from making a commitment .
Meanwhile the evil that wasn't killed in book one still lurks growing stronger daily and all agree they need to try and defeat it once more , especially as it has singled Meara out as it's way to break into the family circle .
Like the first book I loved the throwback to when it all began , following the ancestors of Connor and his family . Unlike the first book this one sees those ancestors tied in nicely to the story line giving that bit extra to it .
Loved this book and look forward to the last in the series .
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