The Pagan Stone

Nora Roberts
December 2008, Paranormal Romance
Jove, $7.99, 336 pages, Amazon ASIN 0515144665
Part of a series

Grade: B+
Sensuality: Warm

Nora Roberts ends her Sign of Seven trilogy with a bang. Considering that the first two books in the series lacked an engaging romance, the strength of The Pagan Stone comes from its love story.

We pick up where The Hollow ends; two happy couples, two singles wanting to avoid the inevitable and a demon that isnít easily vanquished. Gage Turner only comes back to Hawkins Hollow to help his friends fight the big evil that rears its ugly face for seven days every seven years. This time around the men are joined by the three women, each a counterpoint to the men. Itís been revealed that this is the last showdown. Good or evil will prevail.

Cybil Kinski is a top-notch researcher and she is using her skills day and night to figure out the last clues that will help them defeat the force that is fast approaching. She and Gage share a gift of foresight and need to link up for any clues they might gleam from the probable future. Together their power is heightened. They see both the good and the bad of what could become of them and the friends they adore. Either way, things arenít looking up for Gage and Cybil.

Besides fighting demons, Gage and Cybil are fighting a mutual attraction. Both free spirits, they see how their friends have hooked up and find that a connection between them is fated. They donít like that the fates are ganging up on them. They share this opinion and are honest with each other. Yeah, theyíd like to roll around in bed a few times, but love isnít on the agenda for this pair. Itís an interesting standpoint these two have, one that made this romance much more believable than I was anticipating.

Color me surprised when I closed the book knowing Gage and Cybil are my favorite couple of the series. I wasnít a fan of their initial appearance in Blood Brothers, so I was looking forward to The Pagan Stone solely for the resolution of the demon-fighting plot. The romance between Gage and Cybil was an unexpected boon. Cybil with her sarcastic, honest approach to life enchanted me. Gage is a sexy, smart heartbreaker. At the height of the conflict between them, my heart was in my throat. It helped that I felt I knew them better than any of the others.

What dragged the entertainment down was the first half. While I enjoyed the sparring between the leads, not much else was happening. There was a lot of talking, discussion, researching and even more talking going on over what to do as July 7th approached. Some parts totally lost me, like a large chunk that revolved around tarot cards. I never got the significance or the importance of what was foretold.

Still, once the crazy stuff started happening around town and the Hollowís residents starting acting up, things were definitely looking up. The final showdown snuck up on me, but was thoroughly satisfying.

After reading and reviewing Blood Brothers last November, I was an instant Nora-holic. The Pagan Stone reinforced that. Ms. Roberts writes superior horror, but Iím reminded now of how good she is at a good, old-fashioned romance. Despite the demonic dogs, blood, guts and overall creepy feel, that is what Gage and Cybilís story is - a romance.

-- Lisa Gardineer

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