Recently, I had a really bad itch for some good ol’ fantasy romance. I like to read across almost all genres, but my favorites are fantasy and romance, particularly when the two are put together, and I’d spent a little too long away from them. I ended up falling upon Stars of Fortune by Nora Roberts in the bargain section at a bookstore and was intrigued by the book jacket synopsis. (Check it out here on GoodReads.)
To be honest, I was a little wary of picking up a Nora Roberts book because the first and only book of hers that I’d read up to that point was Morrigan’s Cross from the Circle Trilogy and I wasn’t into it. However, I don’t believe in judging an author on one piece of their work (especially an author as prolific and beloved as Nora Roberts) so I decided to give it a go – and I am so glad I did.
I wasn’t sure what to make of it at the beginning. One thing I can say about Roberts’ writing is that she doesn’t waste any time diving right into the story, but this one felt a little too rushed in the beginning. It took me a couple of chapters to get my bearings, but once I did, I ended up enthralled by the story. It was exactly what I was looking for. A light, fun adventure with magic, romance (of both the heart-melting and pearl-clutching variety), exotic settings, and characters I could easily fall in love with.
The trilogy had its flaws, mainly with cliches and predictability, but I still enjoyed it nonetheless. Here’s what I loved and didn’t love about it (spoiler-free!):
What I Loved
√ The characters. I loved all six of the Guardians for their individual quirks. Each had a very clear personality and brought something different to the story. I could easily follow any one of them into a spin-off. (Except maybe Sasha. She worked well in the group but I found her to be the least compelling on her own.)
√ The love stories were touching and unique in their own ways. The couples balanced, complemented, and challenged each other without losing who they were in the process.
√ The friendships were equally compelling. I loved the bond they all shared but the different shades of friendship they had with each other, how they played off of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s an ensemble cast that reminds of some of my other favorites like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
√ The settings are characters in their own right. I felt like I’d traveled the world.
√ Loved all the pop culture references. This woman knows her fantasy and sci-fi!
√ Nora Roberts has an unbelievable gift of painting images and emotion with her words. She effortlessly and breathtakingly captures atmosphere, emotion, and characters with astounding brevity. A true artist of the written word.
What I Didn’t Love
X Unfortunately, there were a lot of things that were predictable about the story. However, the characters and their arcs kept me interested enough not to care too much about the larger plot’s cliches.
X The main villain was boring. I love a complex, intriguing villain, so this was disappointing.
X As much as I adore Roberts’ writing, there were a few times where her brevity had the wrong effect. I felt rushed through certain moments that I would’ve preferred to soak in a little longer.
X Some of her choices with her mythology had me raising a questioning eyebrow, particularly a scene where inter-species sex takes place while one character is in human form and the other is not. Just couldn’t get into that.
I’ve noticed by now (doesn’t take much more than a glance at her bibliography) that Nora Roberts recycles a similar trilogy plot. The story was predictable, the villain cliche, but the characters were what made it. They paired with her captivating prose made me an official Nora Roberts fan. I just finished reading the first book in another one of her trilogies, Dance Upon the Air (The Three Sisters Island Trilogy), and I’m sucked into that one, too. Again, not without its flaws, but taking them for what they are, I’ve found a go-to author to satisfy some of my fantasy romance needs. I’m a little late to the party, but better late than never, right?