Key Trilogy, by Nora Roberts

>> Thursday, November 04, 2004

To avoid burn-out, I usually try to space out books by the same author, even if they are part of a series. I even try not to read two books in a row in the same genre! So far it's worked and I haven't really had a slump in years.

With Nora Roberts Key Trilogy, though, I decided to make an exception and read all three books together.


Three women. Three keys. Each has 28 days to find her key. If one fails, they all lose. If they all succeed, money, power, and a new destiny await.

Book 1: Key of Light:

The life of gallery manager Malory Price is stalled when she is invited to a reception at a mansion near her small Pennsylvania town. Upon her arrival, she discovers that she is one of only three guests-all of whom are feisty young women with life challenges just like her own.

Their mysterious hosts explain that centuries earlier, they allowed the souls of the three demigoddesses under their care to be stolen by a sorcerer. Legend says the demigoddesses cannot be freed until three mortal women find the keys to the glass box in which they are housed. Should they agree, Malory, Dana Steele and Zoe McCourt will each receive $25,000 to search for the keys, plus a million dollars if they succeed. They nervously accept, and Malory is the first to tackle her task, with the help of Dana's charming but commitment-phobic brother Flynn.

This second book continues the story of three contemporary female friends chosen to free the souls of ancient demigoddesses called the Daughters of Glass. This time, the heroine is Dana Steele, a librarian who is sure that the key she's seeking lies in a book.

As she begins her search, Dana renovates Indulgence, the gallery-cum-salon-cum-bookstore she is opening with her friends Malory Price and Zoe McCourt. She also spends sometimes passionate, sometimes vexing time with Jordan Hawke, the thriller writer who broke her heart years earlier when he abandoned her and their small Pennsylvania town of Pleasant Valley to seek fame in New York. Dana slowly realizes that the love they once felt for each other has not died-and that Jordan's writing is inextricably entwined with her supernatural quest. In the end, Jordan must join with Dana to fight the spells of the sorcerer Kane and fulfill the terms of her quest.

Book 3: Key of Valor:

This book concludes Roberts's Key Trilogy. The third and last woman to make the attempt is hairstylist Zoe McCourt. Like her friends Malory and Dana, Zoe has a single month and a cryptic set of clues with which to find her key. The angry sorcerer Kane fights her efforts as friends both mortal and immortal lend their support.

As she searches, Zoe is courted by Bradley Vane IV, the sexy heir to a home improvement empire. She's not sure which is more difficult: accepting that she's magically linked with Brad or trying to quell her suspicions long enough to accept his love in the here and now. When she finds the courage to do both, the souls of all three goddesses are finally released.
By the time I was half-way through Key of Light, I was very glad I was going to be able to read all three books together. Nora's trilogies are always very interconnected, to a much higher degree than those series in which the only link between books is that the protagonist is the brother of the hero of the first book, or something like that.

That said, of all her trilogies, this one's probably the one where all thre books are most of all a whole. Each book focuses on one of the three couples, but the remaining two don't fade into the background. Dana and Jordan don't politely wait until the second book to start developing their romance, and neither do Zoe and Brad. And of course, there's the plot about each woman's quest to find one of the keys and free the Daughters of Glass. That one develops equally in each of the books. In fact, I think someone who started reading books 2 or 3 would be very lost, and someone who started by reading number 1, will feel they're missing part of the story if they don't read the other books. They simply don't stand alone very well. This made reading them together even better, so I'm not complaining about it at all, but someone who's interested in reading them should take note of this fact.

I very much liked all three romances, though I didn't really find any of them tremendously outstanding. Malory and Flynn were very sweet, and I liked the way she was the one to pursue him. This made for some very funny moments, as Malory delighted in making Flynn nervous. Malory was fun, being so girly and happy with it, while Flynn was a sweetie.

I liked Dana and Jordan's romance, too, but it was a bit overshadowed by the fact that I'd read Face the Fire not one month before, and I liked it a bit better where Nora went with the reunion romance in that one. Still, I did like their story, and I particularly enjoyed the fact that both were so crazy about books. I had to laugh at Dana having a "bath book", a "bedside table book", a "breakfast book", and so on!

Zoe and Brad's storyline was probably the one I liked best, simply because I adore stories where the hero falls for the reluctant heroine fast and has to win her. I loved the moment in the first book when Brad sees Zoe for the first time and his knees go weak (see what I meant about having to read all three books to get the entire story?) and I thought Nora did very well the way he felt he couldn't seem to do things right in front of her. However, I did find Zoe a bit too prickly and ready to jump to (the worst) conclusions about Brad's actions.

The books weren't only about the three romantic relationships. The friendship between these six people was a major part of them, and one I really liked. I enjoyed reading about the increasing new friendship between the three women, and the continuing friendship of the men, who had known each other well for so many years. They felt distinctly different, as was the way they interrelated as couples. All these dynamics were wonderfully done.

I also enjoyed the plot about finding the keys. I always like quests and treasure hunts, and these were very entertaining. Each woman's process of searching for the key was interesting, and the solutions were very satisfying and appropriate for their personalities. The supernatural element here was done very well, too, much, much better than in the Three Sisters Island trilogy.

I'd grade the books maybe B separately, but as a whole, this trilogy is a B+.


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