Nora Roberts’ Dark Witch—the first novel in her Cousins O'Dwyer trilogy—opens in Ireland in 1263. Sorcha is traveling home from a celebration with her three children, while her warrior husband is far away. Known as the Dark Witch, this powerful woman feels the dreaded presence of Cabhan, an evil sorcerer who wants Sorcha's body, magick and soul. His gifts are strong, as is his greed, and she fears he will harm her children in order to bend her to his will. But before that can happen, Sorcha makes a heart-wrenching sacrifice.
In contemporary times, Iona Sheehan leaves her lackluster life behind when she relocates to Ireland, the land of her beloved grandmother and where she hopes to find the sense of belonging that has always eluded her. There, she connects with her O'Dwyer cousins, Branna and Connor, quickly confiding in them about the frightening dreams that she’s been having. Iona’s grandmother had told her about the family legend of Sorcha, who purportedly destroyed a powerful sorcerer in order to save her young family. Through her nightmares, though, Iona has come to believe that some part of the sorcerer’s evil actually survived. Branna and Connor welcome Iona into their home and their lives. They, too, know the old story and believe that a battle between good and evil is imminent. The O'Dwyers have honed their magical powers over the years and set out to teach the inexperienced Iona in order to prepare her for the fight ahead.
Soon, Iona discovers that there's more than just family for her in the beautiful County Mayo. When she finds work at a local stable, she also finds a man. Tough and practical, Boyle McGrath has been friends with Branna and Connor for years, so he knows of the family legend and their otherworldly skills. Reveling in her and Boyle's mutual attraction, Iona's impetuous nature has her wanting to dive headlong into an affair. Boyle, however, is more cautious—he worries that the looming battle will require all her concentration.
But Boyle's resistance isn't ironclad. Iona is in his bed and nearly entrenched in his heart before second thoughts start to creep in. His doubts hurt Iona, but do not sway her determination to fight the enemy. They stay friends, and along with two other lifelong comrades of Branna and Connor, they form a strong circle that all hope can be used to protect each other, as well as defeat the insidious evil. If good triumphs, might Boyle and Iona find their way back to love . . . or will the dark sorcerer put an end to their lives?
The beauty of Ireland is invoked throughout, as well as the loyalty and humor that comes with deep friendships and strong family ties. The emotion-tugging tale of two people falling in love is peppered with imaginative and exciting scenes of black magic and white magic going head-to-head, creating a compulsive page-turner. With strong, appealing characters and the romance of fated love at its core, Dark Witch is sure to bring more raves for Roberts.