Stars of Fortune, by Nora Roberts

>> Thursday, February 04, 2016

TITLE: Stars of Fortune
AUTHOR: Nora Roberts

PAGES: 336

SETTING: Contemporary Corfu (Greece)
TYPE: Paranormal Romance
SERIES: Starts the Guardians series

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts comes a trilogy about three couples who join together to create their own family and solve an ancient mystery through the powers of timeless love...

Sasha Riggs is a reclusive artist, haunted by dreams and nightmares that she turns into extraordinary paintings. Her visions lead her to the Greek island of Corfu, where five others have been lured to seek the legendary fire star, part of an ancient prophecy. Sasha recognizes them, because she has drawn them: a magician, an archaeologist, a wanderer, a fighter, a loner. All on a quest. All with secrets.

Sasha is the one who holds them together—the seer. And in the magician, Bran Killian, she sees a man of immense power and compassion. As Sasha struggles with her rare ability, Bran is there to support her, challenge her, and believe in her.

When a dark threat looms, the six must use their combined powers—including trust, unity, and love—to find the fire star and keep the world on course.
I must admit, the first book in the last Nora Roberts trilogy was so bad that I didn't have high hopes for this one, particularly because this trilogy seems to be all woo-woo, big fight between good and evil, just as the previous one. However, I decided to give it a shot anyway for three reasons: 1) I'm still loving the author's JD Robb releases; 2) Roberts' single titles have been hit or miss lately, but I've enjoyed some of them, and even elements of the ones that have been mostly misses; and 3) I know Roberts can do good "woo-woo, big fight between good and evil" books. I loved the Circle Trilogy, after all!

Stars of Fortune begins with the myth, as per usual with Roberts lately. The three goddesses (sorry, ‘goddesses three’) meet to decide on a present for a new queen. A dark goddess intervenes and curses the gift, creating a danger that could destroy the world, and the goddesses three amend it in what they can to diminish the danger. And in the future, six must come together to yadda yadda yadda and save the world, and so on.

Now, this little chapter is probably one of the worst things I’ve ever read. The mythology is non-sensical and laughable, with no motivations beyond ‘bad goddess is bad’, and the way it’s supposed to be written to sound mythical falls spectacularly flat. So not a good start at all.

And then we must line up the six people in the present-day story who will have to work together to find the MacGuffin. Sasha Riggs is an artist who has dreams which are more like visions. She's long known she's got a measure of power, but has always suppressed it. The visions get stronger and stronger, though, and she decides she'll follow them and travel to Corfu. While there she immediately meets two of the people who've been in her dreams for months, including the man who's starred in some pretty erotic ones, Bran Killian. And it turns out both are after the same thing, the fire star, one of the three which were supposed to be the gifts created by the goddesses. And what do you know, so are three more people they meet (all of whom have been in Sasha's dreams, of course), and they all end up teaming up.

This whole process is done in the most perfunctory way possible. I think it would have worked much better for me if they’d come across each other coincidentally, without knowing they would be part of a team, and come to work together more naturally. Here it was very “You’re one of the team, Sasha’s seen it in her visions” - “Ok”. It felt extremely unsatisfying.

The plot is just silly. As I mentioned earlier, the villian is a villian because she's evil, and I have no idea what the rules are regarding her powers. Even though the fate of the whole world is supposed to be at stake, I didn't feel it. It's all about cool, acrobatic fights and cool paranormal beings, who cares if it feels real?

There were some things I liked. Corfu sounds lovely and I did like some of the interactions between the characters, particularly as they interact separately and become friends (Sasha and Bran I don't count here; there is 0 chemistry there).

Unfortunately, the characters themselves were mostly bad. I did like the fighty warrior woman with the unapologetic sex life, and the archaeologist guy seemed sweet (although he's going to end up with Annika -yuck! See more later), but the others... oh, dear. Sasha is incredibly wet. Bran is pushy and annoying (and it might be just me, but billionaire magician and club owner is not something that screams sexy to me). The incredible warrior with the big sword is a cypher, and then there is Annika.

Oh, Annika. Annika is a mermaid (seriously, this is not a spoiler. If you don't guess the minute she shows up then you're not paying attention). She made me cringe so hard that I almost seized up. She’s simple and childlike, completely literal in how she understands what the others say. She comes across as someone with learning difficulties. Which would be fine if that’s what she was meant to be (that would actually be quite nice to have in a romance, Simple Jess is the only one I can think of), but she isn’t. She’s just meant to be, they say quite clearly, “pure”. That's quite a worrying vision of purity. Even more worrying, they think "oh, it's probably just that English is not her first language". Yeah, fuck you guys. She's basically treated like a child by everyone around her, and that pissed me off. Let me give you a random sprinkle of her dialogue so that you see just how annoying she is. And I promise, this are just a few examples, there's plenty (plenty!) more where they came from.

When they got to the kitchen, she released his hand, ran hers over the refrigerator. “It shines.”

After tugging on the handle, she let out a long ahh.

“Are you hungry?”

“Yes! It’s very cold inside.”

“And Sawyer.” Annika beamed at him.


Her eyes went huge, her voice dropped to a reverent whisper. “You’re a king?”

As Riley snorted, Sawyer looked into those wide eyes, sea green, flecked with gold. “My last name’s King.”

“I’m Annika, first name… Waters, last name. Annika Waters,” she said more definitely. “Hello.”

“I think she’s a little high,” Riley said to Bran in an undertone.

“We climbed the steps to the house. It’s very high.”

“Good ears. You been doing some drugs, Annika?”

“No. Am I supposed to?”

“That’s a myth.”

“I’m apology. A mist?”

“Myth. A fable,” Riley added.
(This one probably doesn't seem quite as bad as the others, but her English lapses are so inconsistent that they annoyed the bloody hell out of me)

“Shopping.” Annika bounced in her chair. “You buy things. I have coins.”

“No trouble understanding how was shopping works,” Bran added. “Coins?”

“I have many coins. I'll get them.”
I hated her. I resented Roberts for creating such a character and presenting her to us as the epitome of purity and goodness.

Also, even more disturbing than the fact that all these chosen ones have to be Americans (with a token Irish guy who also lives in the US) is the fact that the whole thing takes place in a Greek islands and yet there is not one Greek named character. In fact the only named foreign character that we see is a villain. Bah!

This was utter crap, and lazy crap, at that. I'll be skipping the next two.



Susanna Kearsley 4 February 2016 at 04:08  

If you want to read something romantic set on Corfu, you should try Mary Stewart's This Rough Magic. (It's the book my mother was reading when she was pregnant with me, so we've always figured that's why I grew up wanting to be a Mary Stewart heroine...)

It's an older book so probably also has issues by today's standards, but at least there are Greek characters. And you'll learn how to pronounce "Adonis" properly.

AND it has Max. I love Max.

Rosario 5 February 2016 at 06:23  

Susanna, thanks for this! I've read several Mary Stewart books and really liked them (and I definitely see the influence, especially in your early books!), but somehow I missed reading This Rough Magic. And I do have a copy, yay! :)

Brie 5 February 2016 at 12:20  

Didn't I tell you this book was horrible? That mermaid, man. *sigh* That said, I saw her new RS up on NetGalley and I went: Ooohh!! Yes, please! I'll never learn.

Rosario 6 February 2016 at 08:28  

I'm weak! Not weak enough that I'll be tempted by the next books in the trilogy, fortunately, but weak enough that I convinced myself there was a small chance I'd like this.

I'm still reading the new RS when it comes out in April, though!

My Cat,  31 March 2016 at 16:33  

Thanks for this review - it crystallised for me some of the problems I'd had with the book. Excellent point about the lack of Greek characters. The protagonists don't seem to engage with the place they're in at all.

My Cat,  31 March 2016 at 16:33  

PS And yes, This Rough Magic is lovely! As you now know (I came to this post via your review of TRM).

Rosario 2 April 2016 at 10:37  

My Cat: Thanks! The two books really can't compare. Such a disappointment!

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