The Pagan Stone
In the hills of western Maryland, the town of Hawkins Hollow goes through a week of terror and madness every seven years. Almost 21 years ago three boys celebrated their mutual 10th birthday by performing a ritual to bond themselves as blood brothers. When they cut their wrists and bound them together, their blood dropped on the Pagan Stone in the woods. They released an enormous evil. For the next week their neighbors attacked themselves, the property in the town, and each other. Three frightened 10 year old boys, Caleb, Fox, and Gage, were able to save some people but not all. At the end of the week, no one remembered exactly what happened to them or how the town was destroyed.
When Gage Turner was 18 he left the Hollow as soon as he could. He had lived with his drunken father and had been his father's punching bag until he was finally able to stand up for himself and strike back around age 16. He spent more time at Caleb and Fox's homes than he did at his home. They were his real family. Gage became a professional gambler and stayed away from Hawkins Hollow for years at a time. But he returned to visit his blood brothers and families on occasion. And, when it is time for the Seven, he returns to protect the Hollow from the evil madness that returns to destroy as much as possible. During that time he sees old friends and good people turn on each other to create mayhem and destruction. The seventh year is approaching again.
This time when he returns it is not only only Caleb and Fox, but three women who are also involved. They are also descendents of the people who contained the evil around 250 years earlier. He, Caleb, and Fox had released it again when they were 10. Now they are almost 31. He watches as Caleb falls in love with Quinn, who can see the past and shares visions with him. Fox falls in love with Layla, who has current precognitions like him. He realizes that leaves Cybil Kinski for him. She, like him, has visions of the future. She's smart and sexy, and the researcher of the group. He tends to keep his own researching skills quiet.
Caleb has no desire to settle down. He likes his life as it ease - he travels, lives by his own rules, catches the games to maintain his lifestyle (like his Ferrari) and comes back to visit his families here in the Hollow. If the group of them are successful he can come visit without having to protect the community every seven years. He wouldn't have to return knowing that he will watch people die. He realizes that the logical step would be for him to fall in love with Cybil and settle down. But that doesn't fit in with his plans. A fling with this smart, sexy woman, on the other hand, would be extremely acceptable - and enjoyable.
Cybil is in the same situation. She realizes that the logical follow up to her happy friends is for her to connect with Gage. She shares his future visions, his attraction and readiness for a fling, and shares his desire to continue life on her terms after they have defeated the evil here in Hawkin's Hollow.
As the men's share birthday approaches, the deadline for the final battle, the evil spirit is getting stronger. It is more potent, has more influence, and is causing more mayhem than ever. People are getting hurt and dying. Gage and Cybil foresee more dying, including their friends. They give in to their inclinations and have their fling. The finally realize that Gage is the one who has made the final thrust to the spirit - which may result in his death.
The dynamics between Gage and Cybil are interesting. Nora Roberts has both of them realizing that they are thrown into a situation that could lead to their falling in love and "settling down". Neither is ready for that, nor do they want to fall in love just because it's convenient or logical. So when they do fall in love (this is a Nora Roberts romance, after all) they both react well - with both joy and reluctance.
The Pagan Stone is predictable over all, but does have a few twists. Gage has to face his now sober father. Caleb's and Fax's family have to be more involved. The three couples have their own surprises and incidents as well. Until the final showoff back at the Pagan Stone itself, the evil spirit remains hokey (see comments in previous reviews). The evil little boy is contrived.
Yes, it's a Nora Roberts paranormal romance suspense, so it's readable. If you've read the first two, you'll want to read The Pagan Stone as well.
Notice: Graphic violence, Strong indecent language, Strong sexual content
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