Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mini-Reviews: Three Sisters Island Trilogy by Nora Roberts

This month I chose to re-read the Three Sisters Island trilogy by Nora Roberts -- the only trilogy by Roberts I had not re-read. I remember waiting for Face the Fire to release, then exchanging the whole trilogy for another Roberts trilogy at a used books store. That was back in 2002 and although I couldn't remember the details as to why I gave the books up, I did remember this trilogy was not a favorite. Last month, fellow Jersyan blogger Mariana from Hips Like Mine generously gave me the complete trilogy for my Nora Roberts collection and I couldn't help re-reading it right away.

Three Sisters Island Trilogy by Nora Roberts

Basis for the trilogy - Synopsis: Three Sisters is an enchanted island off the coast of Massachusetts that, through magic, was formed as a sanctuary by three frightened witches fleeing the Salem witch-hunts and persecution. Although the witches found love and security on the island for themselves and their offspring, each of them entered into an ill-fated relationship and died tragically after ultimately making the wrong decisions. Three thousand years later, their descendants Nell Channing, Ripley Todd and Mia Devlin have to break the grim pattern set by their ancestors, or the magic will cease to work and the island will sink into the ocean.

Known as the Circle of Three, each one of the present day witches has the same powers as their foremothers -- Air, Earth and Fire. Nell Channing is Air, Ripley Todd is Earth and Mia Devlin is Fire, representing three of the four elements. By using their collective powers and holding the Circle, each one of these three women will face a situation similar to what their foremothers faced, and each must make a choice. They'll battle evil and through love and magic will either win or lose it all.

Dance Upon the Air (Three Sisters Island Trilogy, Book 1)

In the first book Dance Upon the Air, after years of abuse, a faked death and a change of identity, Nell Channing (Air) runs away from her husband Evan and straight to Three Sisters island, a place that calls to her. She quickly finds employment at the local bookstore/cafeteria as a chef, where she works for Mia who also conveniently provides her with shelter. Nell doesn't know she is a witch or that with her appearance the Circle is complete, something she learns from Mia. While weary of both the law and men, she can't help but eventually fall for Sheriff Zack Todd, a charming and down-to-earth man whose tenderness, passion and protectiveness win her over. But, how can they find happiness, when Nell is hunted by her evil husband?

I liked Nell and Zack as a couple. Nell is the "earth mother" type, who cooks and bakes flawlessly and takes care of others. She's also frightened and fragile because she has been abused, but slowly regains her self-respect and strength throughout the story. Zack is the tender and passionate protector to both Nell and his community. A lot of time is spent going over Nell's abusive relationship with Evan, the backstory for the Three Sisters and building up to the climax, but frankly that climax was over in the blink of an eye and fell flat for me.

Heaven and Earth (Three Sisters Island Trilogy, Book 2) 

Ripley Todd (Earth) is happy with her life, protecting the island and working with her brother Zack as the island's sheriff deputy. A tough woman, not much frightens Ripley, except for her powers. She can't control them when she's angry and won't use them or admit they exist. This creates a conflict with ex-best friend Mia and for the Circle of Three. When gorgeous MacAllister Booke comes to the island research and investigate rumors of witchcraft, Ripley is suspicious of his motives, but soon can't resist his charming, geeky ways. To her surprise, soon there's magic flowing between Mac and Ripley in more ways than one. But, will she accept her powers, control her anger, and make the right choice before it's too late?

In Heaven and Earth, I really liked Mac who's a gorgeous, hot and sweet beta geek. He's an intelligent man who goes after his woman relentlessly. Mac knows how to handle Ripley and is tougher than she is, in a quiet and subtle way -- very sexy. Ripley however is not a favorite for me. While reading, I thought she needed a good dunking in the freezing ocean a couple of times until she came to her senses. Personality-wise, she is supposed to be tough but comes off as very angry throughout much of the book and that gets old and frustrating after a while. The evil Ripley fights is a combination human/intangible evil from the darkness. Although the climax is exciting, it contains some lack of judgment moments (TSTL), and that intangible evil is left unexplained.

Face the Fire (Three Sisters Island, Book 3)

Face the Fire is the end of the trilogy and Mia Devlin (Fire) and Sam Logan's story. She's the most powerful witch of the three, the one with the "fire power" -- pun intended. Mia and Sam were in love when they were teenagers but he left her and the island, breaking her heart. Of course now that he has returned, she's not giving him the time of day. He was a jerk and deserves it; still she decides to go to bed with Sam because she has the hots for him, except she won't give him her heart. However, in order for the curse to be lifted she must make a choice -- and her heart and love are the key.

Mia and Sam as a couple were frustrating even though their intimate moments sizzled and their second chance at love story initially caught my attention. Sam is hot, arrogant, protective, a straight shooter and sorry for his actions. As part of the curse, Mia ultimately has to make a choice: give her love to Sam again or lose the island. This part of the story drags until the very end as she goes back and forth for too long. Mia is arrogant about her powers and as much as she talks about the Circle of Three sticking together, she is too cocky about doing it all on her own -- this contradiction drove me nuts. Sam is also a witch and very powerful. He is the fourth element, Water, and Mia refuses his help even though she knows he has to be part of it all -- TSTL moves all around. Besides having to make a choice, at the end of this trilogy Mia has to fight an evil force. Unlike the evil Nell had to fight and similar to Ripley's, this evil is not physical but intangible. This would've been fine, except that even though its purpose is known, where IT comes from and what IT is, is never really explained. IT was just a dark, powerful, sticky, gooey eveeeilll... hmmm...

Conclusion: Well, definitely not my favorite Nora Roberts trilogy. I can see why I gave it up -- although this time I'll be keeping it for my collection. Dance Upon the Air has a lovely couple, sets up a trilogy that sounds interesting, but dwells too much on Nell's abused past and has an anticlimactic ending. Heaven and Earth has a sexy-geeky hero with an ever-angry heroine, and although there are some TSTL moments, I think it has the best plot and ending of the three books. And, Face the Fire was a frustrating read for me, with a romance that sizzled at moments but dragged with indecision until the end, and a disappointing end to the overall storyarc -- making this an overall average read as a trilogy for me.

Genre: Contemporary Romance w/Paranormal elements
Series: Three Sisters Island Trilogy
Released: June 2001, December 2001, June 2002
Grade for Trilogy: C

Nath's 2010 Re-read Challenge - April Review


  1. I haven't read the whole trilogy, I have read Dance Upon The Air, which I was enjoyable, but I am going to look into reading the rest of the trilogy though. Thanks for the review!

  2. I don't remember the trilogy in that much detail, but I do remember being put off by the lack of symmetry with 3 of the 4 elements represented, and then only one of the four heroes being an element, and mixing the elemental stuff with wicca... Roberts mostly always makes me happy with her love stories and characters, but the paranormal elements in this trilogy were kind of clumsy.

    Which is to say, to the extent I remember this trilogy -- I totally agree with you!

  3. I wasn't really impressed with the first two, never did listen to the third. I find I'm not as enamored of Roberts' writing as I am of Robb. Weird isn't it?

  4. Hmm I thought I got a lot of NR from Marriana. Guess I'm missing these. And I haven't read these yet, maybe I won't ever do it. But interestingly I just finished reading her Hidden Riches and from M ofcourse. This I love the most and I feel the writing was too close to Robb. But yes I must agree J.D. Robb did wonders!

    But the voice in each of her writings Robb or Roberts still recognizable. A voice so powerful I can never forget. I guess that makes me a fan.

  5. LoR, enjoy the rest of the trilogy.

    Nicola, yes... as a whole, it just didn't do it. I kept wandering why they were Air, Earth & Fire when they couldn't really do anything special with those elements... I mean they each used all of them, & then... anyway, yeah... clumsy's a good word.

    Leslie, NR has much better trilogies & books! Try some of her romance-based trilogies, they're wonderful. :)

    Natalie, you're reading some of NR's great books! Lucky girl, I saw that list and you got some wonderful books there. I got these three from M, lol! I enjoy NR's voice, so far I'm also enjoying Robb's, although I think you'll find there are some books where the similarities in voice are more evident than in others.

  6. What a great series review, Hilcia! I like that you covered all three books in one post.

    I don't have many Nora Roberts books on my shelf, J.D. Robb, yes, but not many Nora Roberts. However, I have to say ...

    ..... SAVOR THE MOMENT is out tomorrow!!!!

    I want.

  7. I agree with you about the evil being vague. I think this was her 1st paranormal venture (of sorts)...or isn't it? Anyway, I was really disappointed with the 3rd book, Mia and Logan as a couple. There was buildup alluding to the guy who broke her heart big time, yaddah yaddah yah but their romance wasn't quite up to what I expected.

    Like Christine, I really like that you reviewed all three books at once.

  8. Thanks Christine.

    It's not rare for Robb readers not to have NR books and vice-versa, it's interesting. Look at me, I've been reading NR for years, & just picked up Robb this year. :) I pre-ordered my copy of Savor the Moment and it should be getting here soon. It's out today. Yesss!

    Tabitha, was it? I'm not sure, I would have to look at release dates. I think she's written paranormal elements into her stories for a while -- maybe since the 90's. The Donovan Legacy had wicca-based storylines also and I think they were released earlier?

    And yes, the build-up to the romance in the 3rd book didn't live up to the hype & fell flat. Plus waiting in vain for an explanation for the evil was a frustrating effort. Oh, well! :D

  9. Oh, you're right. I forgot about The Donovan Legacy. I can't recall if I really read it or just read reviews about it. Whoops, there goes my theory that this trilogy was not well developed because it was her first time incorporating paranormal writing. :)

  10. It's a good theory, Tabz. :D I think the Donovan Legacy uses wicca a bit better IMO, although it also has magic. I remember liking it more than this one. :)

  11. Hmm, I didn't read your whole review, but I know that this is a trilogy that felt blah for me :( I think I've read one of the book and just never felt like reading the others. Guess that my gut feeling was good :D


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