Ariel Cooper is descended for a long line of witches, each who had a different "gift". Ariel's gift is that she can see the dead. When she and her sisters -- Elena, the eldest and Irina, the youngest -- were children, they were taken from their mother. Before that event, Myra Cooper told them the family legend and gave each of her daughters one of the family charms to help protect them. Ariel and her sisters were separated and she hasn't see them since.
Life has been rough for Ariel. Bounced around from foster family to foster family, and thought to be crazy, Ariel has found it hard to get close to people. Even so, she's managed to go to college and become an elementary school teacher. She's been dating the brilliant and wealthy David Koster for six months, having met when one of her student writing assignments led to him visiting her classroom. Though she's had her heart broken before, Ariel can't help but fall for this kind and generous man. In the time that they've been dating, she's manage to keep her secret from him, afraid that she'll lose him.
But all that changes when the ghost of one of her students appears suddenly in her classroom. Ariel had long suspected that the little girl was being abused, but without proof, she could only do so much. She sends the police, already knowing it's too late to save the child. The incident leaves her wracked with guilt. For not being able to help the little girl, for keeping secrets from David and for pushing him away when he was trying to comfort her, and for putting his best friend, police officer Ty McIntyre, in danger.
The incident has also made David realize that he's afraid to lose Ariel. He loves her, at that frightens her. Shunned once before by a former boyfriend, Ariel struggles with telling him the truth. She keeps putting it off, and instead focuses on finding out what happened to her sisters. The reason for the urgency is that an old enemy of the witches is out for revenge, and several members of Ariel's extended maternal family end up dead, including her own mother. The mysterious killer is after the sisters and their charms.
Since this is the first book in a trilogy, the main story threads -- the sisters reuniting and confronting their enemy -- are not resolved in this book. The primary focus is on Ariel's struggle with being rejected all her life. She was never adopted and her name was never changed, nor did she leave the community she grew up in. If any of her family had really wanted her, they could have found her easily enough. She is stunned to learn that a least one of her sisters lives nearby.
This was a quick read, once I had several hours on uninterrupted reading time. It wasn't a scary story or very suspenseful. Since romance books like this must have a happy ending, the author's attempt to make us believe the hero was actually the bad guy wasn't very effective. I never once thought David was the culprit.
Started: 6 September 2008
Finished: 10 September 2008
Disclaimer: I purchased this book.