Desert Isle Keeper Review

Born in Ice
(This DIK review was written by a reader)

Nora Roberts
1996, Contemporary Romance
Jove, $7.99, 371 pages, Amazon ASIN 0515116750
Part of a series

Grade: A
Sensuality: Warm

I don't consider myself a terribly picky reader. If the story has likable characters, a fairly understandable plot and a happy ending, that's enough for me. I find myself liking a whole lot of books but there are very few that I love. What makes this book a Desert Isle Keeper for me, then, is that I absolutely loved it!

Born In Ice, the second novel in Irish trilogy by Nora Roberts, continues the story of the Concannon sisters of Clare County, Ireland. The previous book, Born In Fire, featured Maggie Concannon, a talented but tormented glass artist. She is now married to Rogan Sweeney and pregnant with their first child. She continues to make frequent appearances in this novel but essentially, the story is centered on Brianna, the younger sister.

Brianna is the proprietress of the Blackthorn Cottage, a Bed and Breakfast she converted out of their family home. Like Maggie, she is an artist, but instead of glass, her medium is her kitchen and her gallery is her home. She is a wonderful hostess, pouring all of her energy, talents and resources into making the Blackthorn Cottage a comfortable haven for her guests. But unlike her fiery sister, Brianna is composed and collected, known as the "cool rose" of the family. Whether she is cleaning her B&B, welcoming guests or interacting with her family, she does it all with the same steady demeanor. Even the difficulty of maintaining the fragile peace between her sister and their shrewish mother fails to shake her icy calm. What finally breaks her control comes with the arrival of a famous mystery writer from America.

Grayson Thane arrives with the purpose of capturing the picturesque countryside of Clare County as the setting of his next novel. What he finds is a cool Irish beauty who intrigues his interest and at the same time, threatens his sense of independence. Grayson has lived his entire life with no roots, no family and no place he calls home. That lifestyle suits him perfectly, leaving him free to travel around the world doing research for his books. The last thing he wants in life is to be tied down to one place. At least, that's what he believed until he came to the Blackthorn Cottage.

As Grayson and Brianna's relationship unfolded, I felt as though I wasn't so much being told a story as I was just witnessing two people falling in love. Their feelings aren't produced in the sudden heat of passion but develop slowly and tenderly. She comes to love his spontaneous gift giving, his boyish enthusiasm for desserts, and his singleminded focus on his writing. He immediately falls for her open and generous heart, and the vulnerability that lies beneath her cool competency.

One of the reasons why I loved this book so much was because of Brianna and Grayson. Not only did they have great chemistry from the beginning but what touched me the most was how tender and caring they are to each other. Their differences complete what each had been looking for their entire lives. He brings love and passion into hers and she gives him stability. And though they are alike in their generous spirits, it is revealed differently through their contrasting personalities.

Grayson gives spontaneously, following every impulse of his heart, while Brianna's generosity shows in her steady nature and unswerving loyalty, whether it's to her family or to Grayson. The conflict in their relationship is that Grayson continues to believe that he can never have a home, when Brianna has already made one for him. Usually, this is the part when I get mad at the thick-headed guy who can't committ, but I enjoyed watching Grayson trying desperately to deny his feelings even as he was falling head over heels in love. And some readers may be put off by Brianna because of her restraint and may even misconstrue that she is a doormat, but I loved her. I admired her inner strength, her practical nature and her willingness to risk loving Grayson. Though she masks her feelings well under a cool facade, we see that she maintains it at great personal cost to herself. It is her icy control positioned against his wanderlust that brings about a compelling and heart-wrenching finale.

Though Born In Ice primarily centers on Brianna and Gray's relationship, the storylines and characters introduced in Born In Fire continue, including Mauve Concannon, the girls' dour mother, and Murphy, the hunky farmer next door. We learn the identity of the woman whom their father secretly loved and that acts as prelude to the final book in the trilogy, Born In Shame. Normally, too many background stories irritate me because they takes the focus off the main characters but Nora Roberts does it in such a way that each detail blends smoothly together to create a warm and touching tale. Born In Iceshould not be missed.

-- Paulina Rhue

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