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Fire, Ice, & Shame: Reading Romance

set in Ireland and tells the story of three sisters: one born of fire, the other born of Ice and the last born in shame.

ContoursofLoveIt is a rare occurrence for me to read Romance, though I have learned to appreciate it over the few years since that Book Riot Challenge. it isn’t something I would regularly read and look for. Seeking the right Romance Novel is like finding a needle in a haystack. So, for guidance, I had asked from you, our dear readers, for some recommendations.  I tried with all my might to get my hands on all the books you recommended. I wasn’t able to procure everything, but for those I managed to get, I plan to slowly get through them and review them before our current theme ends in March.

The first recommendation I was able to finish was Nora Roberts’ Born in Trilogy. This was the easiest for me to find, hence the first I could read. This trilogy was recommended by Ruth.

It wasn’t in my plan to read all three books. I even told myself that I would avoid any form of series, but alas, here we are. The completest in me knew I could read a trilogy.

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The Born In Trilogy is set in Ireland and tells the story of three sisters: one born of fire, the other born of ice and the last born in shame. The trilogy takes us to Clare, a rural village in the West of Ireland where people don’t lock their doors, farmers take pride in their work, and babies are welcome in a pub.  While the titles may allude to some sort of fantasy romance, aside from old myths and dreams, the Born In Trilogy is a contemporary romance.

Reviewing all three books seem like a daunting task, I’ve decided to approach this by talking about each book—my general reaction towards them, and talk about what worked and didn’t work for me.

Born in Fire

Maggie, the eldest of the Concannon sisters, burns a fiery fire in this book. I liked that she was feisty and temperamental and yet able to create these beautiful, delicate works of glass art. If anything this book was a study in contrast. I like the fire in Maggie juxtaposed with her delicately beautiful art, and this man who manages everything. There is some lovely banter between characters and Rogan is a great match to Maggie. There was tension, there was banter and there was some good old warmth to this. While Maggie and Rogan were likeable characters, it was the glass art that sort of made me read this—I liked how it was used to bring to life whatever storm and fire that was in Maggie. The author made the whole glass art process and sculpture come to life that I just enjoyed it immensely.

This romance novel, while it puts head to head two stubborn characters for the reader’s amusement, was to me about art. It was the art that stole the show. Reading this book was like magic. I could imagine how glass was blown and how the heat permeated Maggie’s workshop. There was so much talk about art and how it’s displayed in Ronan’s gallery.

I understood the importance of art—how it reveals who we are and how much of our own person is in the art. It was that – which made this whole book pleasant to me.

Born In Ice

Brie isn’t one character I immediately liked, even back in Born in Fire. Compared to the first book, this was quiet–as fits the quieter sister, Brianna. While there was cold strength in Brie, the dominant impression was still fragile. I love that she loved the home, that she saw it as good labor, but I felt her cold strength was that of an ice sculpture. She was too passive as a character. My general preference is for strong, fiery female characters. The male lead, Grayson on the other hand, was interesting, but I also felt that the pull and tension of his past was too superficial. I wanted the pull of that to be stronger–to see the struggle in his character more evident than just hesitation to leave the BnB and Brie.

What stood out for me in this book is the sense of family and community. While this was a decent read, it wasn’t quite my cup of tea.

Born in Shame

Let me say this off the bat, this book was the hardest to read. As much as this brought us full circle in the life of Thomas Concannon, I didn’t like Shannon. I felt of all the characters in this series, she was the flimsiest and most stereotypical of them all. The city girl struggling to accept her new found history and family while falling in love with the country boy. There was nothing in Shannon that stood out for me. All that “strong female” façade, was just that, a façade and that made it impossible for me to like her.

Murphy, on the other hand, was a presence I liked in the first two books, but his character here felt like a random surprise. There was no hinting to this character of his in the previous two books. I still like how candid and sincere Murphy was in this book, but I wish it didn’t feel like some new actor came to play the Murphy character, replacing the one playing him in the past two books.

If there was one thing I liked about this book, it was the stories and dreams, but while I love that bit, the interweaving of those stories and dreams to our main character’s life felt flimsy.

Overall, the experiences of reading these Romance Novels was not bad at all. There was enough to enjoy in each book to have me finish them, however wanting. It wasn’t satisfying and I am not sure if Nora Roberts is always like this.  I felt the characters at times to be two-dimensional, even what seems to be an attempt at three-dimensionality in character development, was too superficial. It was frustrating at times, as there was so much room for development that Roberts could have done.  I wanted to believe that she created these strong independent women, but they felt weak–I wanted some earthy rootedness in their characters. It was there, but it wasn’t too rooted that I would love them to bits.

I also had issues with the time period of this story, while it was written in the modern era of laptops, faxes and cars, it felt dated. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s set in a rural area. The period was too grey that I couldn’t get a feeling of time and place in this book. This is not necessarily bad, but it felt odd.

The Born In Trilogy was an interesting and entertaining introduction to Nora Roberts’ Romance. While I have read three books by the author, I might try another of her books to see whether or not I would like her writing. If you have any recommendations of truly independent, intelligent, stubborn female characters, do leave recommendations.

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