Review: The Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy by Nora Roberts

Hello and welcome to my review of The Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy but most especially Blood Magick!

Yes, this is going to be a “3 for 1” special! I say this because I started the trilogy over 6 years ago, way before I started this blog, and even though I finally finished Blood Magick, I can’t adequately talk about it without referencing the other 2 books. Luckily enough for me, I recorded my thoughts on my Goodreads page. Since I’m going to be sharing them here, I’d suggest that you take this as a potential spoiler warning. 😉

Let’s talk about the first book – Iona and Boyle’s story… (And consequently, the first Nora Roberts book that I ever read!)

Dark Witch (The Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy #1) by Nora Roberts)

Dark Witch

My Thoughts: The basic storyline was great! I loved the lore and how the tiny band of 6 all brought something to the table. However, I did stumble with flow. She repeated words a lot and only gave you half the foreshadowing. Sadly, it was enough to frustrate me on occasion and take me right out of the story. For example, there was a lot of hinting at things that Branna and Connor knew but no one else did. Conversations went like this: “You know what this is about then?” “I do, yes, but let’s not speak on it just yet.” Then nothing was ever said again. That’s all the reader got. I understand that it’s set up to be a trilogy but I need more than just that to keep me hooked into the next book. If I wasn’t a stubborn reader and Irish woman, I’d very much leave this story where the book stopped.

I also found the romance between Iona and Boyle quite vague in the beginning. Sure, she got butterflies whenever she saw him but he just grunted. Next thing you know he’s grabbing and kissing her then fussing about it. It didn’t make sense even knowing how stereotypical Irish men are in real life. Again, was she going for a type of ‘Quiet Man’ role? If so, the actions of both parties fell horribly short to convince me. The relationship didn’t start to really click until half way through the story but I still had problems “feeling” it. Going in, I’m coming from the likes of Sherrilyn Kenyon and Sylvia Day. Completely different writing styles so this may be my problem.

I will read the last two books because 1) I am not so easily deterred and, 2) I may just not have a feel for Ms. Roberts’ writing style yet. However, because of the problems I listed above (and these are things that last through the entire story so they are not small problems), I would not recommend this trilogy to anyone less than an avid determined reader or lover of Nora Roberts.

I rated it ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Next we have Connor and Meara’s story…

Shadow Spell (The Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy #2) by Nora Roberts

Shadow Spell

My Thoughts: For the second book in this trilogy, I was a little put off. The book started slow and I had a hard time getting into it the way I did Dark Witch. I just wasn’t sold on Connor and Meara’s love story.

I normally love it when characters that have known each other for a long time and have hidden feelings for each other finally get together. Normally there are moments that make the reader suspect there’s an underlying attraction. Things like the crazy pull towards that other person but having to constantly remind yourself that you’re just friends and can’t cross that line. Unfortunately I didn’t feel that in this one. It seemed to me like they got hyped up after a battle and fell into bed together. It was a moment of lust, not hidden love. It was convenient and familiar but there were no sparks. If it started as a way to “scratch an itch” and turned into genuine affection, then maybe I would have bought it. Sadly, even though I think that’s what Ms. Roberts was getting at, it was never really fleshed out that way. Their love story eventually picked up some when Meara opened up but by then the book was almost over. I saw more of a connection between Branna and Fin than these too. I found the whole thing disappointing because Connor really reminds me of my husband.

I rated it ⭐⭐⭐

This brings us to the last book in the trilogy – Branna and Fin’s story…

Blood Magick (The Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy #3) by Nora Roberts

Blood Magick

County Mayo is rich in the traditions of Ireland, legends that Branna O’Dwyer fully embraces in her life and in her work as the proprietor of The Dark Witch shop, which carries soaps, lotions, and candles for tourists, made with Branna’s special touch.

Branna’s strength and selflessness hold together a close circle of friends and family—along with their horses and hawks and her beloved hound. But there’s a single missing link in the chain of her life: love…

She had it once—for a moment—with Finbar Burke, but a shared future is forbidden by history and blood. Which is why Fin has spent his life traveling the world to fill the abyss left in him by Branna, focusing on work rather than passion.

Branna and Fin’s relationship offers them both comfort and torment. And though they succumb to the heat between them, there can be no promises for tomorrow. A storm of shadows threatens everything that their circle holds dear. It will be Fin’s power, loyalty, and heart that will make all the difference in an age-old battle between the bonds that hold their friends together and the evil that has haunted their families for centuries.

As I mentioned when I started, it’s been about 6 years since I read the first 2 books. That very well may have colored how I feel about this one. Looking back, I remember more of Dark Witch than I do Shadow Spell. Even reading Blood Magick, none of the 2nd book really came back to me like the 1st did. Personally, that spoke volumes on how much I lost interest in this series and why it’s most likely taken me this long to pick it back up.

I also want to say that I don’t think it was Ms. Roberts. I was either not in the appropriate mindset for this trilogy or it just wasn’t for me to begin with. I say this because I’ve read and loved her Chesapeake Bay series (so neat because I was living on the Eastern Shore at the time) and a few other books by her. None of which fell as flat for me as this one did. Well… I didn’t like her Morrigan’s Cross either. Which I find both odd because I normally love stories about witches and ancient curses and animal guides and Ireland.

But let’s talk about Blood Magick. I enjoyed it but I didn’t LOVE it. The pacing was good, the ending appropriately impactful. There was even a twist that caught me completely off guard but somehow made sense. However, I was not engrossed. This wasn’t one that I couldn’t wait to pick up and loathed to put down. It was interesting but I wasn’t invested.

I appreciated how Branna was calm and methodical. You could see how she was the heart and brains of the family and fight. Like her kitchen, they all congregated and radiated out around her. Despite this, I really fell in love with Fin. Of all of them, Iona and Fin felt the most lifelike to me. Where Iona was all fire and light, Fin was steady and solemn. He carried both dark and light, as we all do. He grappled with the consequences of that. Voiced the pain and frustration of feeling less than and separate from the others, from Branna. Fin relinquished his love long ago because he didn’t feel worthy due to the darkness in him. A curse that wasn’t his fault and he paid for daily. Nevertheless, he stole the show for me. My favorite scenes were when he doted over little Bugs.

As with most end books, this one wrapped up all the loose ends. It was a slow roll with only a few action moments here and there; most of it coming in the last 10% or so of the book. To my mind, this one focused more on the history of the curse and the rebuilding of a relationship between Branna and Fin. We learn that Fin’s trips away weren’t just to put distance between him and Branna. The depth of his love for her really shown through and I felt bad for him because it highlighted how selfish and pigheaded Branna had been all these years. I was glad when it finally made it through her thick skull that duty is only as good as the love that stands next to you. Fighting for something is more effective than fighting because you’re told to do it. And sure there were love scenes, all Nora Roberts books do, but nothing that would make you blush overtly so.

On the whole, I’d give Blood Magick 3.5 stars rounded up to 4. For the entire trilogy though, I’d say it’s a solid 3. Nothing amazing but not absolutely terrible either. I’m glad I finished it. 💜



PS: I do want to mention that I’m extremely disappointed with the name Ms. Roberts used for the demon. It clearly shows that she didn’t truly understand who that name really belongs to and to be used as such is insulting.


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