Second Bookses

It's like second breakfast. Only with books.
Heaven and Earth - Nora Roberts Ah, summer. The time when I tend to toss most of my serious reading right out the window and stick to novels that I can read with one eye on the book and the other on the kids running through the sprinkler. By far, my favorite author for summer reading is Nora Roberts, a New York Times bestselling author who is known for sticking to the romance genre, but whose books regularly supersede the low expectations you have of romantic fiction. One of my favorites that warranted a re-read before I let it go on is Heaven and Earth, the second of the Three Sisters trilogy.::: Starting Midstream :::Heaven and Earth is the second of a trilogy involving three women: Nell, Ripley, and Mia, three descendants of sisters who, according to legend, created the island on which they live through their witchcraft. Three hundred years after the original sisters were defeated by a force of evil, these women are again confronting the same evil, trying to save their own lives, the island, and the men they are involved with.When Heaven and Earth begins, the first confrontation has already occurred, and Nell has beaten back the evil that is in her abusive husband, whom she escaped by faking her own death. Her ex is in a mental institution, and she has married the sheriff of Three Sisters, Zack. Zack's sister, Ripley, joined her powers to those of Nell and Mia to help Nell, but is still very reluctant to embrace her gift until she meets the paranormal scientist Dr. MacAllister Booke, who is not only on Three Sisters to study the events that took place as well as the three women, but also seems tied into the legend.As Ripley's relationship with Dr. Booke develops, she has to confront not only the evil facing the women and the island, but also dealing with and controlling her own gift, and finding a way to defeat the evil without making the same mistake that her ancestor did.::: Why Isn't It a Bodice-Ripper? :::There are romance writers, and then there is Roberts. One of the things that originally drew me to her books was how much research she does to build her plots. If she is writing a series about a family who builds ships, you know that she has immersed herself in the research, and her characters and plots feel much more fully developed as a result.Several of Roberts' series have dealt with witchcraft, magic, and legends, and every one of them has been just as fascinating as the next. One of Roberts' gifts as a writer is in creating characters just like Ripley Todd, a woman who is secure in herself, yet struggles with a major part of her life. The characters like Ripley are always my favorites of Roberts' creations: headstrong, somewhat abrasive, and learning about themselves.Adding in the witchcraft only serves to make the series more interesting, because it is so outside the realm of most readers' experiences. However, Roberts takes care to respect the tenets of Wicca, and doesn't make these facets of the plot so over the top that it's unbelievable. You find both the characters AND their experiences believable, which is what makes Roberts such a popular author.Still, I'm not going to pretend that this is the equivalent of reading Dostoevsky here. Heaven and Earth is a relatively quick read, that can be read both within the context of the trilogy, or on its own, although I'd bet that anyone reading Heaven and Earth as a standalone novel will quickly be hunting down the other two books, especially the third book, just to find out how the story ends.This review originally published at Epinions:

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