And a lovely read it is too. Unashamedly romantic and sentimental in parts, hot and steamy in others. Now the steaminess comes in towards the end of the book, when the romance heats up. If you're a person who prefers sweet romance, you might like to keep that in mind. But honestly, I wouldn't let that put me off reading a good book. I have no hesitation at all in recommending this novel to readers of romance fiction. And in particular, to readers of romance who love Ireland.
The characters are memorable and attractive. Kate Barrow, a young Australian who is an accomplished and experienced horsewoman, arrives in Ireland to take up a job in a stud farm in Killarney, a job which she's acquired through contacts in the equestrian world. She arrives in Ireland with some preconceived notions that the Irish must all be like leprechauns and that they're drunk 24/7. But she's soon disabused of that particular notion not long after her arrival. She meets a certain Irishman who sets her heart a flutter and her pulse racing. Although they separate soon after they first meet, they're reunited in a most unexpected and surprising way. Jack O'Reilly is not only ruggedly handsome, he's witty and talks in riddles continuously and he never ceases to exasperate and intrigue the young Australian woman in equal measure. And therein lies the USP of the novel. Jack's a silver tongued charmer all right. He has what it takes to be a lover. But does he have what it takes to be a life partner? Kate doesn't want a man to waste her time. She has issues. Serious issues involving trust and betrayal. One things's for sure - she's not going there again! But how can a woman be sure of a man who alternately romances her off her feet and teases her till she explodes with anger?
Kate's initial reaction to Jack is to resist him by putting up on iron reserve which he becomes determined to overcome. Jack's reaction is to do his darndest to melt this reserve. And that, my friends, is the basic story. I had to confess, there were a few moments when I shivered in my shoes. Kate's iron resistance to Jack's Celtic charm sometimes bordered on utter rudeness. I would never underestimate an Irishman's capacity to lose his temper, because like any man, he has self respect. Lots of it. Any woman unwise enough to test the boundaries of that self respect might find herself nursing a very sore ego. That legendary wit can have an edge which can, as we say in Ireland, cut the ground from under you. And you'd be getting away lightly!
As a romance novelist, Whitney K-E has what it takes. Both her premise and the setting are perfect. She writes of Ireland with great love and affection, you can really feel that. The setting for me is both familiar and new, because I haven't spent much time in the south west of my country, nor do I know much about the equestrian community in which the story is set. But living under the Indian sun as I do, reading this book gave me a free trip home. At first I found it a little incomprehensible that Jen Tully, one of the characters, could drive from Killarney to Dublin and back in a day. But a little research showed that with the progress the country's made in the past eighteen years since I left, the motorway system has improved transport considerably. Well, I hadn't even thought of that! How some things change.
Whether the region is Texas, Australia, Scotland or Ireland, it's not an easy task for an author to write in a foreign accent. When I write myself, I prefer plain English with an odd local word or phrase to emphasize the local touch. There's a wealthy female character in the book who also speaks in a flat, local accent. Someone like that, in my estimation, would speak in a plummy, west Brit accent. But all in all, Whitney K-E has done a commendable job here. So if you're curious to find out WHAT HAPPENS IN IRELAND, you could do a lot worse than pick this one up.