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Sandy M’s review of Shadow Spell (Cousins O’Dwyer, Book 2) by Nora Roberts
Paranormal Romance published by Berkley 25 Mar 14

As much as I enjoy the stories Nora Roberts always comes up with, it’s her characters who always steal the show and make me love her books every single time. Though my favorite character of this series will be in the next book, it’s Connor O’Dwyer who smiles and laughs his way through life, taking on evil magic with a seriousness and fierceness that will protect those he loves, a man for whom family is everything. He lives every day in his own way and is determined to continue down the road of life in the same vein, no matter what.

Clan O’Dwyer and friends are gearing up for another go at the evil Cabhan, who wants their power for himself. They came close to decimating him in Dark Witch, but as happened with their ancestor Sorcha, Cabhan survived by the skin of his teeth, licking his wounds to come at them another day. In between the spell writing and conjuring in anticipation of Samhain, the night when the veil between worlds is thinnest and when they’ve agreed on their next try, the cousins, Branna, Connor, and Iona, along with their circle of friends, Finn (who carries Cabhan’s blood), Meara, and Boyd, go about their days with work and family, music and laughter, making each count and coming closer to their goal.

It’s not until Cabhan comes out of the shadows to make a go at them that Connor and Meara begin to realize their feelings for one another go beyond the bond of friendship they’ve had their entire lives. It’s a slow, gradual realization for each of them. They don’t see those feelings for what they are until the attack that comes out of the blue and one of them is injured. I so enjoyed the scene in Connor’s lorry when Meara loses her composure for a few moments, kissing Connor for all she’s worth. That’s the beginning when those pesky feelings shoulder their way to the fore, forcing them to look much closer than they want to.

Meara is the one who refuses to take things to the next level, but she’s enjoying the time in Connor’s bed. I love her attitude that if everyone and their brother thinks they’re having a heck of a time between the sheets, then she might as well be doing it. Connor’s enthusiasm makes those scenes doubly fun. He’s the one who embraces what they have, the first to speak of his love and wanting a future with Meara. The man has burrowed his way into my heart in no time flat, so I wanted to shake Meara, but I also understand her reluctance when the future is so unclear and uncertain.

The dream scenes when Connor meets his ancestor, Eamon, are some of my favorites. Family is the running theme throughout the story, something Cabhan will never understand, and watching those two come together to share ideas and memories is heartwarming. I think it’s the new-found genealogist in me that enjoys that so much, something I’d love to do with ancestors I will never know much about. Other favorite scenes are those around the kitchen table spread with a meal lovingly prepared by Branna. They theorize, strategize, argue, laugh, and just be a family at that table. The teasing and playfulness they all share is wonderfully done.

I also like the connection each of the cousins has with their animal talismans that have also descended through the centuries to help in this fight against evil. Connor’s easy communication with his hawk as well as others gives an extra layer to his character. You feel that kindred spirit he shares with them in every scene, as you do with the hound and horse of Branna and Iona respectively, when the animals rush to the rescue whenever needed.

The magick battles range from slow-moving fog and evil to fast-paced lightning bolts and fire balls and a host of other magical events. Of course, because there is a third book yet to come, Cabhan is once again pushed back, seriously injured, but there is still something that gives him the wherewithal to recuperate and make a nuisance of himself once more. Fin and Branna are up next, and I can’t wait. They have a history and I’m anxious as can be to find out more about that. I think it’s fitting that it will be Fin who has a final stand against Cabhan, since he’s the descendant of all that evil, able to turn it on its head once and for all.

sandym-iconGrade: A+


With the legends and lore of Ireland running through his blood, falconer Connor O’Dwyer is proud to call County Mayo home. It’s where his sister, Branna, lives and works, where his cousin, Iona, has found true love, and where his childhood friends form a circle that can’t be broken…

A circle that is about to be stretched out of shape—by a long-awaited kiss.

Meara Quinn is Branna’s best friend, a sister in all but blood. Her and Connor’s paths cross almost daily, as Connor takes tourists on hawk walks and Meara guides them on horseback across the lush countryside. She has the eyes of a gypsy and the body of a goddess…things Connor has always taken for granted—until his brush with death propels them into a quick, hot tangle.

Plenty of women have found their way to Connor’s bed, but none to his heart until now. Frustratingly, Meara is okay with just the heat, afraid to lose herself—and their friendship—to something more. But soon, Connor will see the full force and fury of what runs in his blood. And he will need his family and friends around him when his past rolls in like the fog, threatening an end to all he loves…

Read an excerpt.

Other books in this series:

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     Blood Magic – November 4, 2014