A must read for romance and fantasy lovers, this story, The Awakening (St. Martin’s Press, 2020) by Nora Roberts, captured my curiosity and kept me reading far into the night. At first I wasn’t sure what to make of some of the stereotypical romance themed elements, like a flame-haired Irish-American woman named Breen Kelly, but I soon became engaged and wanted to cheer her on. First she had to break away from the low expectations of her Mother and at the same time normalize the reality of an alternate existence and the circumstances attached to it. She must awaken and open herself to life, love and take risks and above all, believe in herself.
I loved the imagery and descriptions of Ireland and Talamh, the people, and animals. I also like the way Roberts did not push the alternate world of Talamh too hard and allowed the reader to come to terms with its discovery along with Breen, creating a solid bond with the character. The author builds Talamh in stages and constructs it into the main story with finesse leaving the reader wanting more. Roberts artfully develops a romance-fantasy crossover presenting the Fay characters as if we would find them here, in our own lives. I appreciated the measure of realism the author wove into the characters. The dialogue is also well done; one can hear the Celtic lilt while reading the conversations.
The relationship between Breen and Marco, her best friend and the LGBT community who is her adopted family is also an element of the story I found satisfying, along with descriptions of Philadelphia.
The only negative of The Awakening is the book ended with a cliff hanger which is always the reader’s remorse when engaged and invested in the story. All in all, a great book, and I cannot wait for the next in the series.