By Heather A.
3 out of 5 stars ★★★☆☆
Malory Price’s life plan has hit a snag. She’s in danger of losing her job managing an art gallery in Pleasant Valley, Pennsylvania. A welcome distraction comes in the form of an invitation to a cocktail party at Warrior’s Peak, an infamous estate overlooking the town. But no one else she knows has been invited…
There are only two other guests: Dana Steele, a librarian, and Zoe McCourt, a single mother. On the surface, it seems the women have nothing in common, until their mysterious hosts tell them a story—and offer them a challenge.
Legend has it that the souls of three demigoddesses—one an artist, one a bard, and one a warrior—have been locked in a box that has three keys. Now it’s up to Malory and the others to find the keys. Their reward: a million dollars each.
It all seems too bizarre to be true. But none of them can ignore the financial windfall they stand to gain. And now Malory—with her soul of an artist and eye for beauty—must find her key first. She soon discovers that whatever locked the souls away is dark, powerful, and greedy…and it doesn’t want the women to win.
This was my first Nora Roberts book, she’s written over 200 titles, so it’s a bit intimidating to get into a random series. I always feel like I have to start from the very beginning. Considering she started writing/ publishing her books in the 70s that seems unlikely at this point. For this particular title, I was drawn to the goddesses story line. I love when gods come to earth and make havoc of mortals–the characters in the beginning of the story didn’t realize how much was at stake when they took on the challenge (as with most books of this nature). To be fair, my frame of reference is the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan and any movie with Thor in it. This was based in Celtic folklore and myth, which is not something I am familiar with, but still powerful in their own realm.
I read this in one sitting. So that’s a definite plus on my end. A book that wants me to finish it. I kept thinking about it well after I was done and my dreams may have been influenced by scenes in the book (hello, Flynn). I also loved that the women were not enemies of each other, but formed a bond that made them stronger, and more adept at finding the keys.
One of my major hang-ups was the unrealistic love story between Malory and Flynn. The book takes place over the course of a month. And the first time they have sex, she initiates, while buzzed, after resisting for several days. I have a feeling that somehow she was possessed (for lack of a better word) by her goddess and she had some influence over Malory’s tailored life. Why was she so demanding that he love her? It just didn’t seem to fit anything I knew about Malory and her calculated life.
The second hang-up I had with this book was that there and there were various phrases and actions that were too stereotypical (for both men and women), which was very frustrating because I did see these women as powerful in their individuality–except when they weren’t. There was also some subtle phrases that took me out of the action. In the beginning, when they are at the cocktail party and one of the women remarks about how white they all are, and then says something like, “at least we’re not in Zimbabwe” in terms of their level of danger. It was very disconcerting.
With these thoughts in mind, I’m not sure if I’ll continue with the series. I was engaged with the text when the language wasn’t stereotypical or derogatory. And I did like that this was both a romance and fantasy. It’s a good mix of genres that I haven’t read much of.