Thursday, September 7, 2017

Stars of Fortune - Nora Roberts (Berkley - Nov 2015)

Series: Guardians Trilogy (Book 1)

A trilogy about three couples who join together to create their own family and solve an ancient mystery through the powers of timeless love…

Sasha Riggs is a reclusive artist, haunted by dreams and nightmares that she turns into extraordinary paintings. Her visions lead her to the Greek island of Corfu, where five others have been lured to seek the legendary fire star, part of an ancient prophecy. Sasha recognizes them, because she has drawn them: a magician, an archaeologist, a wanderer, a fighter, a loner. All on a quest. All with secrets.

Sasha is the one who holds them together -- the seer. And in the magician, Bran Killian, she sees a man of immense power and compassion. As Sasha struggles with her rare ability, Bran is there to support her, challenge her, and believe in her.

When a dark threat looms, the six must use their combined powers -- including trust, unity, and love -- to find the fire star and keep the world on course.

The first book in the Guardians Trilogy and I loved it. As in most of her paranormal trilogies, this book involves six people, three men, and three women, drawn together by Fate to fight the forces of evil. Though the basic framework is similar, the details create a unique and exciting story. The premise is that eons ago three goddesses came together to create three stars as a gift for a new queen - a star of fire, a star of ice, and a star of water. But an evil goddess wanted the stars and their power for her own, and to protect them the goddesses shielded and hid them. When the time was right, they would be found and returned to their rightful places.

Sasha is an artist, seer, and empath who turns her dreams and nightmares into paintings. She lives alone, hiding from the battering of emotions she experiences and the pain of losing those she cares for when they find out about her gift.  For the past several months she has dreamed of the same people over and over and is driven to follow those dreams to the island of Corfu. She doesn't know what to expect, only that she must be there.

Once on the island, one by one she meets the other five who are also part of the quest. I enjoyed the introductions and seeing how each is brought on board. It is interesting that Sasha, the seer, and glue that holds them together, is the only one who knew nothing about the Stars when she started. The others are Riley, and archaeologist who focuses on myths and legends. She is bold, tough, and has useful contacts all over the world. Then Bran, an Irishman and magician, and the one that Sasha is most drawn to. Sawyer, easy-going world traveler with his own useful contacts. Annika, beautiful, fun-loving, a bit naïve. And finally Doyle, hard-eyed, tough bodied warrior. All of them know of the Stars, some by way of family legend and inherited responsibility. Each of them also has secrets, unique abilities that are crucial to their goals, which are slowly revealed.

I loved seeing these six people come together for a common goal. It isn't easy, as each one has learned to be cautious of revealing too much. It takes some time to develop the trust necessary to form a true team. Sasha believes herself to be the weakest link thanks to treatment she has received in the past. I loved seeing her transformation, thanks mostly to her growing relationship with Bran. Their connection is immediate; their attraction is intense. Because of who and what he is, Bran can help Sasha see her gift for what it is. I loved his sensitivity and caring and kindness, and how his support gave her the confidence she needed. Bran is protective of her also but has to learn to let go as she grows into her role in the group. There are some intense scenes between the two as their connection deepens and grows. That connection is vital during their final (for this book) battle with the evil goddess Nerezza.

I loved seeing the group change from six individuals to a cohesive team. Each revelation of a special power comes at just the right moment, swinging the tide of battle back their way. Some I suspected, others were a complete surprise. Each time, the trust and bond become a little stronger. Sasha, once she has learned how to deal with her gifts rather than fight them, has a great talent for cutting through the crap and motivating the others to work as a team. Her first "tirade" was unexpected but a grand thing to see. I loved seeing how each one took it to heart. I loved the various cooperative scenes, such as Riley teaching Sasha to fight, and Bran coming up with the perfect weapon for Annika. It isn't all fighting and preparing, as there are many scenes of the group hanging together over food or chores, just getting to know each other in the normal way of new friends. There is also plenty of humor to lighten the sometimes intense periods.

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