Dark Witch by Nora Roberts
Cousins O'Dwyer trilogy bk 1. Piatkus, 2013. ISBN
(Age: Adult) Romance. Ireland. Fantasy. Bestselling author Nora Roberts delivers the first book in another of her series set in Ireland. Iona Sheehan arrives at the wonderful Castle Ashford, after leaving her job, family and friends behind in Baltimore. She plans to stay there for a few days before seeking out her Irish cousins, after her grandmother has urged her to find out about a family secret legend. Her cousins Connor and Branna O'Dwyer welcome her as if they have been waiting for her arrival for a long time and when she gets a job at the local riding school, she meets the dark but charismatic Boyle McGrath. She discovers that she and her cousins have inherited a strange gift from an ancestor, The Dark Witch, and that legends can come true.
Roberts has the happy knack of bringing alive her Irish setting. The Castle Ashford where Iona first stays is a real castle operating as a hotel and this setting was particularly interesting. Her descriptions of the soft rain and the green countryside, the country walks and the ruins were fascinating.
As always Roberts has appealing characters and a gripping romance. Iona is a positive young woman and all the men are gorgeous. Boyle is dark and brooding, Connor, funny and warm and Fin, dangerous and enigmatic. Branna is the most powerful of the cousins and the tension between her and Fin make an intriguing back story to the main romance between Boyle and Iona.
The legend of the Dark Witch, going back centuries, is captivating and its introduction in the Prologue, Winter 1263, was gripping and is certain to catch the reader's attention immediately. Sorcha has handed down her power to her children and their children, as well as their ability to use the horse, hawk and hound as familiars. Iona is amazed that she is one of these descendants with a talent for handling horses. The cousins will need all their ability to fight the evil Cabhan, who wants Sorcha's power for himself.
Even though there were themes in this story that are familiar from other books by Roberts, the story is still a gripping one and the other two books in the trilogy promise more of her engaging writing style.