ARC Review: The Awakening by Nora Roberts

Title: The Awakening

Author: Nora Roberts

Series: The Dragon Heart Legacy (Book 1)

Page Length:  464

Publication Date: Nov. 24, 2020

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Synopsis:  New York Times bestselling author of the epic Chronicles of The One trilogy returns with the first in a brand new series where parallel worlds clash over the struggle between good and evil.

Breen Kelly had always been a rule follower. So when her father left when she was twelve years old, promising to return, she waited. Now, more than a decade later, she needs to move forward. She can wait no longer. A summer trip to Ireland seems like the perfect next step. She never dreamed it would lead her through a portal to another world, where her latent powers of magick will be awakened, her true ancestry revealed and an epic battle against evil fought.

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LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

My Review:

The Awakening is a wonderful introduction to Robert’s new fantasy world. Breen Kelly lives an ordinary life, working at a job she doesn’t love, drowning in student loan debt, shopping in thrift stores, and barely making ends meet, Breen is shocked when she finds out that she has an account with almost four million dollars in it. Breen uses the money to pay off her debt and then takes a trip with her best friend to Ireland in the hopes of learning more about her estranged father. It is in Ireland where she discovers a portal that takes her to Talamh, the place of her birth and a magical land of fairies, weres, dragons, and more.

Breen meets a dynamic group of people, including a grandmother she doesn’t remember, and she finds out that she is the key to saving this world from an evil, power-hungry villain who also happens to be her grandfather. She “awakens” and realizes her power. As she learns to master her abilities and hone her craft, Breen must also decide if she wants to return to her safe and monotonous world or stay in this new world where danger lurks in every corner.

Freedom costs…I don’t know how much I’m willing to play.


Breen Kelly. What a protagonist! Breen spent much of her life feeling rejected by her father and less than by her mother. Working in an unfulfilling career to pay off her student debt and barely making ends meet, she lives a mundane life. Luckily, Breen has a strong group of friends who show her more love and support than her own mother. I love Breen’s friends – her old friends from Philadelphia and the new friends she gains in Ireland! Smart and kind people who encourage Breen to reach toward happiness, they are what Breen’s mother should be.

Breen has a toxic relationship with her controlling and negative mother. Though I can understand her mother’s desire to move and stay away from the supernatural world, especially after what happened to Breen when she was younger, I don’t understand why her mother is so critical. It is almost as if she resents and fears Breen.

I wonder if I have so many doubts about myself, about what I can do, should do, because she told me-not just in words, but in looks, in actions-that I was less. And I believed her and settled for less.

Breen’s mom always makes her feel less than and didn’t encourage her to achieve her goals. I think, in a weird, warped way, Breen’s mother was trying to keep her safe, but in doing so, squelched her individuality and sense of self. This is quite different from Breen’s friends and, my favorite character in the novel, her grandmother.

Marg waited over twenty years to reunite with Breen, and watching their relationship redevelop is lovely. Kind, generous, and loving, she is the antithesis of Breen’s mother.

You have a chance and a choice to be what you are. Take it, build on all that came before, reach for what comes next. If you fail, well, greatness rises from first failures.

I love the way that Marg supports and encourages Breen. Her love is unconditional and true. From her advice to her gestures to her actions (or inactions), Marg exemplifies the mother that Breen always wished she had. She gives Breen the confidence to step out of her comfort zone and embrace her newly awakened abilities. She also helps her acclimate to the incredible supernatural world of Talamh – the powers, supernatural beings, lore, and more. (Oh, and did I mention the dragons?! You know I love a story with dragons! And Breen’s love interest on a dragon? Sa-woon!)

The name of Breen’s blog is “Finding Me,” which is fitting since she spends the majority of the story “finding” and redefining herself. This is one of the highlights of the story as Breen goes from being a person who prefers to blend into the background to a powerful, self-assured woman. I love her growth throughout the story. I mean, I don’t know how I would react if I fell through a portal, reconnected with family I never knew I had, realized they are not entirely human (nor am I), and then found out that I was the key to protecting the world (and other worlds) from the evil intentions of my villainous grandfather. Breen has a lot of heavy decisions to make, but before she can make any decisions, she needs to find herself.

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the love story. Breen and her love interest have an interesting dynamic. Keegan is the sexy leader of Talamh and has sworn to protect her. However, he refuses to let her depend on others for protection, as do the other amazing friends she makes in Talamh. Keegan teaches her how to fight and control her power.

Being a peaceful people isn’t the same as being defenseless.

He makes her learn to defend herself, and though his ways are often hard and punishing, his motives are clear and honorable. He takes his role as leader and protector very seriously, and I have a feeling that, as the story evolves, so will the relationship between Breen and Keegan. Their connection is strong, and their chemistry is palpable.

The Awakening is a fantastic start to what promises to be an exciting new series from Nora Roberts. With dynamically developed characters, both human and supernatural, skillfully woven and immersive worlds, interesting lore, a fabulous romance, and themes of friendship, family, female empowerment, and the healing power of love, The Awakening is Nora Roberts at her best. Thanks so much to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.


Favorite Parts:

Breen’s journey.

The budding romance. It’s a slow-building, slow-burning delight! Not quite enemies-to-lovers, Breen and her love interest have a distrust-to-grudging respect-to-lovers story. Is that a thing, because I love it! ๐Ÿ™‚

The well-developed characters.

Favorite Lines:

There are always some, aren’t there, who believe what they believe is the only. And will do whatever it takes to force that belief on all.

Regrets need to be set aside to keep worlds safe and whole. But that’s a lock in her I don’t know she’ll open. And inside with them she keeps doubts close-like a woman might a favored jewel.


This is the perfect book for readers who enjoy stories with strong female protagonists, fantasy worlds, and a well-developed plot. And of course, there’s the romance…

38 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Awakening by Nora Roberts

  1. Oooohmygoodness this sounds soooo good ๐Ÿ˜ I love that Roberts is continuing to branch out with her romances into the SFF genre. I’ll be immediately adding this to my TBR now! Fab review ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Ooo…this sounds so good. This is a horrible confession: Despite being a fan of romance, I have never read a Nora Roberts book. This one sounds so good. I may have to pick it up.

  3. I’m so glad you loved it!! I must admit I wasn’t feeling it – BUT her trilogies don’t work for me as well as her standalone novels and her JD ROBB books. I figured that although she is one of my favorite authors, I can live with it if not all of her books sync with me.

    ~ Corina |

  4. Great review, really enjoyed reading this! I’ve wanted to read a Nora Roberts book for quite a while and this one sounds incredible, I’ll definitely be adding it to my TBR! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I just picked this book up from the library and now I’m even more excited to read it! Great review!

  6. This sounds like such a cool book! I like the idea of the conceptโ€ฆ although I could see it becoming a bit predictable? Iโ€™m glad you enjoyed it anyway ๐Ÿ˜Š While Iโ€™m here, do you have any tips for how to get ARCs? I really want to try but I donโ€™t know where to star

    1. There is a bit of predictability, but that didn’t bother me much. Nora Roberts is one of my faves, and I always seem to enjoy her books. ๐Ÿ™‚

      As for ARCs, I started on Book Sirens and then NetGalley. I’ve had good success with both. I actually got the ARC for The Awakening on NetGalley! I also joined some groups on Goodreads and connected with authors there who were looking for reviewers.

      I hope that answers your question! If you need any help getting started or want to chat more, message me. I’m glad to help! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Hey! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone 4! Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts! Carry on the excellent work!

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