I have a confession to make: I’ve never enjoyed a stand-alone title by Nora Roberts. Her connected books, though, are quite another story. This is the first title in the Circle trilogy, and it’s a good thing that the other books will follow quickly, because I cannot wait!
Many of her connected books contain more paranormal elements than her stand-alones, and this is no exception. In the year 1128, on the isle of Eire, sorcerer Hoyt of the Mac Cionaoith lost his twin brother to an evil demon woman, the vampire Lillith. Lillith made Cian like herself, a soulless blood sucker. More than anything, Hoyt wants his brother back. He calls on his goddess Morrigan for help. Morrigan tells him a great battle is to be fought for the future of his world and others not known to him, and he and five others are the only hope for mankind. Strangely enough, one of them will be his brother. Morrigan sends Hoyt forward to the 21st century to find his allies.
When Hoyt arrives at his brother’s penthouse, Cian isn’t overjoyed to see him. That part of his life died centuries ago, although for Hoyt it was only days. Cian has no love lost for Lillith however, and hasn’t taken blood directly from a human for centuries. He and his human friend King grudgingly agree to ally himself with Hoyt.
Their second recruit is a human witch whom Hoyt saw in his dreams before traveling into the future. Glenna Ward is a hereditary witch with formidable powers of her own. Her first meeting with Hoyt and Cian doesn’t bode well. After everyone calms down without killing each other, Glenna realizes just what they are facing, not only in terms of their enemy, but with Hoyt’s transition problems in modern times. They travel to Ireland to train for their battle with Lillith, hoping to find the rest of their allies as well.
In Ireland, they add Moira and her cousin Larkin to their team. Moira is not overly enthusiastic that one of their teachers is a vampire. As a shapeshifter, though, Larkin’s abilities will come in handy. The blending of the different personalities into a cohesive unit is not an easy task, and trusting one another is difficult. They only have a short period of time to train, according to Morrigan, and the pressure causes tempers to flare.
Hoyt and Glenna are immediately attracted to each other, and the sparks fly – literally almost killing someone – when their powers combine. Hoyt is a serious hero, not given to light-heartedness, and Glenna’s sarcastic sense of humor and joyful approach to life provide a nice balance for him. He has a difficult decision to make regarding which time period to live in, should any of them survive the battle, as he left behind his parents and other siblings when he was sent forward.
Roberts always does a wonderful job twining her characters’ lives together, and this book is no exception. While Hoyt develops a new relationship with Glenna and the others, there are also bridges to build with his brother, who is not the brother he remembers. Their relationship is not an easy one either. Cian is more of an outsider to their group because he is one of the enemy, so to speak. I can’t wait for his story. Lillith is also an incredibly nasty, evil villain and her actions are hideous. Our heroes definitely have a tough battle on their hands.
My only quibble, and it is minor, is that Glenna and Hoyt’s relationship clearly cannot take the forefront in this book. There is so much going on: introducing new characters, fighting the vampires, Hoyt’s relationship with Cian, etc., that I think they lost some center stage time. Robert’s still manages to make their relationship compelling and passionate, so it all worked out in the end. I am so thankful that the next book is due out in October, although that still feels like a long wait. I’ll be pre-ordering from Amazon to make myself feel better.