Friday, March 22, 2019

Ana Seymour’s MAID OF KILARNEY – A Worthy Tale, Well-told Irish Love Story

While not strictly a part of Seymour's Irish historical trilogy (THE BLACK SWAN, ROSE IN THE MIST and THE IRISH GYPSY), which tells the love stories of the three Riordan brothers from County Meath, this should be a part of the series. While I liked the second one very much, this 4th may be the best. It includes some of the same characters from ROSE IN THE MIST, and the hero, Dr. John Black, is also featured in that one.

John Black is a 45-year-old doctor/politician/warrior when this story opens in 1576. He's taking some time off to relax and visit the daughter of the woman he loved as a youth. Catriona ("Cat") is now wed to Niall Riordan (their story is told in book #2 of the trilogy) and living in Killarney. On his way to visit them, John saves a young girl named Daphne from an attempted drowning by bullies and discovers she lives in the woods with her mother, Lily, known as the Witch of Whistler's Woods. Lily is hiding from a past of shame and her family's rejection, but she is increasingly concerned her lame daughter wants more people in her life than just her mother. John offers to help Daphne walk better but Lily is hesitant. She's been hurt by trusting a man before...

This is a story of second chances...the story of a man who lost his first love and a woman who was betrayed by hers. I loved the more mature man that was John Black though there was a time in the story when I questioned his less than honorable intentions toward Lily. Lily was a survivor as only a single mother who loves her child can be. It's a worthy tale, well-told and I can recommend it.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Karen Robards’ FORBIDDEN LOVE – Masterful Storytelling Kept me Reading Late Into the Night!

Seduced by her guardian, Justin, Earl of Weston, at his estate in Ireland when she was 17, Megan Kindead is made to pay the price. And oh, how she pays. Though Justin was very aware his behavior was despicable, he “couldn’t help himself” and ruined her just the same. In return, the young innocent fell in love. Of course, he forgot to tell her one thing: he could not marry her as he was already married. Finding she is pregnant, Megan knows to give her child a name, she must wed and soon.

Megan is a high-spirited young woman with courage and convictions. I loved her. Justin was an otherwise honorable nobleman who was obsessed with his ward. He would have her no matter the consequences, even making her his whore when he could not make her his wife.

It’s a bodice ripper, oh yes, it is, and a very good one. Originally published in 1983 (the original cover which has so much more emotion), it is just as good today. The emotions are at times subtle, at times violent, but in all, believable. And the tension is non-stop. Robards is simply a master of this sort of romance and I count myself among her many fans. She always tells a great story.

This book grabbed my attention and would not let me go. Though no date is given it seemed to be roughly set in the Regency era, and while there were some errors in forms of address and clothing color choices (a mauve “coming out” gown when it would have been white, and reference to a white wedding gown when it would have been a color), the story still gets full marks from me because these errors did not distract from what was a well-written, captivating story.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Nora Roberts’ IN FROM THE COLD – Brilliant Christmas Story of a Scot and an Irish Lass on the eve of the American Revolution… A Keeper!

Set at the outset of the American Revolution, beginning in December 1773, this is the story of Ian MacGregor, who was wounded by a British soldier after participating in the Boston Tea Party. Ian fled to the wilderness of Massachusetts where he ended up in the barn of the Murphys and in the care of the young Irish widow, Alanna Murphy Flynn.

Alana is immediately attracted to the red-haired rebel but she fears his talk of revolution, not just for herself but for her brothers. Ian has fallen in love with Alana and means to have her as his wife. But he’ll need his aunt in Virginia to help him.

Brilliant descriptions and beautifully developed characters bring this story and the MacGregors to life. Revolution is coming to America and while Alanna would resist, Ian knows America must fight for her freedom. Roberts adroitly weaves the conflicting emotions of the time into a love story between two strong-willed people.

It’s a well told, fast-paced novella and so good one could only hope for more. The first story in the MacGregor series is Rebellion and I highly recommend it. However, all of the others that follow In From the Cold are, sadly, contemporaries. Would that Roberts would have continued writing historicals as it would have been fascinating to see her tell the history of America along with the MacGregor love stories. She did historicals so well.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Best Irish Historical Romances

Rock of Cashel Tipperary, Ireland

I first developed this list for a friend of Irish descent who loves Irish historical romances. Since then, I have updated this list each year as I have come to love stories that feature Ireland and/or Irish heroes and heroines. The books on this list cover all time periods. Some transcend typical historical romance as they bring to life heartrending tales of the wonderful Irish people who survived much hardship to help make great their adoptive countries.

If you’re looking for stories of the Emerald Isle or handsome Irish hunks, or worthy Irish heroines, you will find them here. All these have been rated 4 or 5 stars by me:

·      A Love by Any Measure by Killian McRae
·      Beyond the Cliffs of Kerry by Amanda Hughes
·      Black Falcon’s Lady by Kimberly Cates (originally released as Nightwylde by Kimberleigh Caitlin)
·      Black Sword by Kathryn Le Veque
·      Briar’s Rose by Kimberly Cates
·      Bride of the Baja by Jane Toombs (original author name Jocelyn Wilde)
·      Broken Vows by Shirl Henke
·      Brotherly Love by Lorna Peel
·      Carnal Gift by Pamela Clare
·      Countess of Scandal, Duchess Of Sin and Lady of Seduction, the Daughters of Erin trilogy by Laurel McKee
·      Crown Of Mist by Kimberly Cates
·      Dark of the Moon by Karen Robards
·      Dark Torment by Karen Robards
·      Dream Lover by Virginia Henley
·      Embrace and Conquer by Jennifer Blake
·      Emerald Ecstasy by Emma Merritt
·      Emerald Prince by Brit Darby
·      Enticed by Virginia Henley (first published as The Irish Gypsy)
·      Eyes of the Seer by Ashley York
·      Forbidden Love by Karen Robards
·      Forbidden Passion by Theresa Scott
·      Golden Surrender, The Viking’s Woman and Lord of the Wolves, the Viking/Irish trilogy by Heather Graham
·      Heart of Stone by Jill Marie Landis
·      Her Warrior Slave and Her Warrior King, from the MacEgan Brothers Series by Michelle Willingham
·      In From the Cold by Nora Roberts
·      Lady of Conquest by Teresa Medeiros
·      Lily Fair by Kimberly Cates
·      Lions and Lace by Meagan McKinney
·      Lord of Hawkfell Island by Catherine Coulter
·      Maid of Killarney by Ana Seymour
·      Moonlit by Emma Jensen (3rd in her Regency spy series; the only one set in Ireland)
·      Maidensong by Diana Groe
·      Master of My Dreams by Danelle Harmon
·      No Gentle Love by Rebecca Brandewyne
·      Odin’s Shadow by Erin Riley
·      O’er The River Liffey
·      Only Forever by Kimberly Cates
·      Passion’s Joy and the sequel Virgin’s Star by Jennifer Horsman
·      Raeliksen and Mac Liam (from the Emerald Isle trilogy) by Renee Vincent
·      Rose in the Mist and Irish Gypsy (from the Riordan trilogy) by Ana Seymour
·      Rose of the Mists, A Rose in Splendor and A Secret Rose, trilogy by Laura Parker
·      Scarlett: The Sequel to Gone With the Wind by Alexandra Ripley
·      Scattered Seeds by Julie Doherty
·      Sea Raven by Patricia McAllister
·      Skye O’Malley by Bertrice Small
·      Stealing Heaven by Kimberly Cates
·      Stormfire by Christine Monson
·      Storm Maiden by Mary Gillgannon
·      Surrender the Stars by Cynthia Wright
·      Tears of Gold by Laurie McBain
·      The Black Angel by Cordia Byers
·      The Divided Heart by Beppie Harrison
·      The Game by Brenda Joyce
·      The Ground She Walks Upon by Meagan McKinney
·      The Hawk and the Dove by Virginia Henley
·      The Heart and the Holly by Nancy Richards-Akers
·      The Highwayman by Anne Kelleher
·      The Irishman by Jennifer Roberson (first published as Royal Captive)
·      The Irish Devil by Donna Fletcher
·      The Irish Duke by Virginia Henley
·      The Irish Princess, The Irish Enchantress and The Irish Knight, trilogy by Amy Fetzer
·      The Irish Rogue by Emma Jensen
·      The Irish Rogue by Judith E. French
·      The Linnet by Elizabeth English
·      The Passions Of Emma by Penelope Williamson
·      The Prize by Brenda Joyce
·      The Rebel by Christine Dorsey
·      The Seventh Son by Ashley York
·      The Sword of the Banshee by Amanda Hughes
·      The Wayward One by Danelle Harmon
·      To Ride a White Horse by Pamela Ford
·      Touch of Lace by Elizabeth DeLancey
·      Whispers of Heaven by Candice Proctor
·      Wild Angel by Miriam Minger
·      Windsong by Judith E. French
·      Wolf’s Embrace by Gail Link

And I hope you’ll read my Regency novella, The Shamrock & The Rose with an Irish hero!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Jill Marie Landis’ HEART OF STONE – Brilliant Story of an Irish lass Set in Old Texas

Set in the 1870s, this is the story of Laura Foster, an Irish girl who was sold into prostitution as a child. Having escaped New Orleans and a life she didn’t chose, Laura is finally living her dream of running a boarding house decked out in grand style. But even after four years of acting the respectable widow in Glory, Texas, she is always fearful that someone from her past might reveal her true identity.

One man falls in love with her: Reverend Brand McCormick, a man with everything to lose if he marries her. Believing it would only hurt him if he married her, Laura tries to resist Brand’s attentions. But the man loves her and will not be thwarted.

This is very well written and kept me turning pages. I loved the deep character development, the historical details that put the story in the right period and the charming children and side characters that provided a rich tapestry. The faith elements are very well done, too.

I highly recommend this tale, the first in the Irish Angel trilogy.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Brit Darby’s EMERALD PRINCE – A Wonderful Tale from Medieval Ireland… A Legend, a Worthy Hero and a Courageous Heroine!

From the writing team of Patricia McAllister and Fela Dawson Scott comes a wonderful story set in 13th century Ireland. I thoroughly enjoyed it! The novel reflects considerable research and careful attention to historical detail of 13th century Ireland.

The story begins in 937 (prologue) on Inisdeven Island in Eire (Ireland) as the Nordic Vikings descend on St. Gall’s priory. The only monk remaining alive is young Donal to whom a dying Viking gives a large Emerald that he says must find its way to a female in his line—a descendant of the Fairy Queen Fand.

Hundreds of years later, in 1209 in England, Lady Alianor Coventry (“Nora”) is widowed when her husband, an older knight, dies. He was a man she greatly loved and admired who was like a father to her. King John, tired of his pregnant wife Isabella, is pleased to learn the fetching young heiress of Coventry is now free to be his plaything. But Nora wants to help her people, something the king has no intention of allowing. Given a choice between becoming the king’s leman or marrying the Norman madman Quintin de Lacy, she chooses neither, but is nevertheless shipped off to de Lacy in Ireland. On the way, she is abducted by the outlaw, Liam Caomhanach, the one the Irish call “the Emerald Prince,” a man foretold by legend.

I thought the authors did an excellent job of incorporating history and the Legend of the Emerald Prince into the story. That is so important to me as I like real history in my historical romance. They have created wonderful characters with a rich backstory—and some real life persons, like King John and Queen Isabella. Both Liam and Nora are compelling—unselfish and courageous to the end.

It’s a great tale, well told, and I recommend it for you lovers of Irish medieval romance.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Heidi Ashworth’s O’ER THE RIVER LIFFEY – Irish Girl Saved From an Arranged Marriage to an English Lord

If you are a fan of the Irish tales and mythology, you will enjoy this story. The hero, a man who was raised to be a gentleman but now tutors a baron’s younger brothers because his family fell on hard times, tells many throughout the book.

Set in 1815, this is the story of Caroline Fulton, an Irish girl whose father, a man of self-made money, wants her to marry a man with a title. But the English baron he has in mind is old and not to Caroline’s liking. She will do her duty if she must, but she much prefers Niall Doherty, the Irish tutor.

Caroline and her friend come to the baron’s house party where most of the guests are English and do not treat Caroline well. She, however, is a saint with nary a fault except perhaps the inability to confront her father with her heart’s desire. The story felt too long and, at times, lingered in one place as Caroline spent much time with Niall on the baron’s estate.

The ending is sweet but, as I said, long in coming. And there are some coincidences that seemed unlikely. Still, the author writes well and the story reflects much research into Irish culture and history.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Laurie McBain’s TEARS OF GOLD - Irish Heroine Finds Love in America from Old California Ranchos to San Francisco to New Orleans

Set in 1848 (prologue) and the early 1850s, this is the story of Mara O’Flynn and her brother Brendan, who live with the stigma of being bastards of an Irish nobleman who left them to survive on their own. Both Mara and Brendan, like their mother before them, are actors. Mara’s mother died in poverty after her wealthy lover cast her aside, and Mara will never forget it. She has no desire to follow in her mother’s footsteps.

In her private revenge, Mara intentionally makes noblemen fall in love with her only to send them away brokenhearted. In one such encounter the young man shot himself. Unbeknownst to Mara, she made an enemy of the young man’s uncle, a Creole Frenchman from New Orleans, Nicholas Chantale—who vows revenge.

In pursuit of a new future, Mara and Brendan set sail for California on a clipper ship. Ever the Irish optimist, Brendan hopes to find gold. While on the ship, however, Brendan gambles away what little money they have, and they are forced to agree to the plan of another passenger, Don Luis, a Spanish Californian. Don Luis wants Mara to act the part of his half English niece who, from her youth, has been the fiancé of another ranchero in the Sierra Nevada. Mara and Brendan become involved in the lives of the rancheros even as they long to leave for San Francisco. Then one day a stranger shows up—Nicholas Chantale.

The beginning takes a bit of patience as McBain meticulously brings to life old California when gold was discovered and the Californian ranchos were beginning to disappear. As is typical of her novels, she includes much historic detail adding richness to the story. It’s a tale of people fleeing their past hoping for a better tomorrow. Tara flees poverty and shame and Nicholas flees his aristocratic family that cast him out when they thought he murdered his brother.

The story moves from London to California to New Orleans as Mara and Nick are continually thrown together and Mara resists the love she feels for the man who only wants her to share his bed. Once the story picks up in San Francisco, it moves along at a fast pace and will definitely keep you turning pages with some great action scenes, mystery and intrigue and a heartwarming ending. I recommend it.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Killian McRae’s A LOVE BY ANY MEASURE – English Lord and Poor Irish Tenant Lass Make for an Irresistible Attraction

This was my first by this author but I would definitely read another historical of hers.

It begins in Killarney, Ireland in 1872 when poor Irish tenant Maeve O'Connor and her father, Rory, can’t meet their rent payment. She goes to their English landlord, Lord August Grayson (name should be August, Lord Grayson, I do believe) to ask for an extension of time. Despite their different stations, August and Maeve played together as children, but one day all that was shattered when August’s English father belittled her and August went along with it. Now, years later, August’s father is dead and August has returned to Ireland. He agrees to grant Maeve the time she needs to pay the rent, even forgives the rent, if she will give him time alone to do with her as he wills. Ahem.

August set up their “arrangement” fully expecting the chaste Maeve to end it before it goes “too far”. He hopes she does so he can claim the mineral rights to the land on which her cottage sits. But Maeve doesn’t seek to get out of the arrangement. And, as it continues, both grow deeper in their affection and sexual attraction for each other.

There are many twists and turns in this story and some history of what transpired in the late 19th century in Ireland. I must say this story pulled me in even though I did not like the quick and numerous changes in point of view, the jumping around from 1866 to 1872 (and back again) and the location changes from Ireland to England to Boston. It was like a tennis match at times. Still, I could not stop reading.

I loved the chemistry between August (who was half Irish himself) and Maeve. And she was a very brave, smart girl, except possibly when it came to August’s seduction.

The negatives here were (1) the hero’s failure to be honest with Maeve about something really significant, (2) killing off the man who was possibly the most honorable of all the characters, and (3) the ending, which has August in a role I thought out of character for him given his education and wealth, but still, it’s a page-turner and a very moving love story.