Desperate to escape the ending of her marriage and an unsatisfying academic career, Jude Murray flees her native Chicago for six months of rest and relaxation in Ireland. Her family owns a cottage in the small town of Ardmore and it seems the perfect place to get the rest she needs and to reflect on the direction that she wants to take with her life.

Upon arrival at Faerie Hill Cottage Jude quickly discovers that things arenít going to be as quiet and relaxing as she had planned. The cottage isnít equipped with any of the amenities she is used to (how can she possibly survive without a dishwasher?) but does have a live-in ghost who presents herself to Jude before she even sets foot in the house. And how can she deal with the handsome pub owner Aidan Gallagher who is intent on pursuing her in spite of all her protestations?

Steeped in the rich legends and culture of Ireland, Jude begins to question all of the things she has ever thought about herself and her life. She worked so hard for her Ph.D. and her position as a professor of Psychology, can she really be thinking of giving it up to write a book? And as things between her and Aidan heat up and she starts to fall in love with him sheís starting to have trouble remembering why exactly she canít be involved with anyone. But can a woman as orderly and logical as Jude really throw caution to the wind and choose a life unlike anything she ever imagined for herself? Or will she turn her back on the only happiness she has ever known?

Like most romance readers, I was thrilled to see a new trilogy from Nora Roberts. (I am assuming that others are thrilled, as I saw Jewels of the Sun at the top of the Philadelphia Inquirer best-seller list this morning!) I loved her Born InÖ series and her Dream series, as well as just about every other book she has ever written.

This new series will follow the Gallagher siblings. This was the story of Aidan, the next, Tears of the Moon will be about his brother Shawn and the third will be the story of their younger sister Darcy. We get a brief introduction to all the family members during the course of Jewels of the Sun, but the focus of the story remains firmly on Jude and Aidan.

As much as I have loved some of Nora Robertís past heroines, I find myself adding Jude to the top of my list. She is a competent and well-educated woman who is struggling within the role that has been set for her by her parents, her ex-husband and herself. I found this to be remarkably realistic. It seems that women who are highly educated and successful often struggle the most with finding their place in society. On one hand they are expected to be thoroughly reasonable and competent in their work, yet when it comes to their interpersonal relationships they are often expected to take a more traditional female role. Judeís confusion and struggles are easy to sympathize with and her transformation over the course of the book is convincing and believable.

Aidan is a good match for Jude. Heís worldly and intelligent and is able to love Jude with all of her neuroses and her successes, rather than in spite of them. And with the exception of a few minor snafus, he is wonderfully romantic which is exactly what Jude needs at that stage in her life. Their courtship is sweet and exciting and easily sustains the interest of the reader for all 370 pages of the novel.

Without any hesitation I highly recommend, not only this book, but any by Nora Roberts. Everyone I know, from myself, my mother and my girlfriends think she is wonderful. Her appeal is broad and I can guarantee you wonít be disappointed!

--A.B.

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