- Irish Thoroughbred
- Irish Rose
- Irish Rebel
Over the last few months, I’ve been reading four books at a time, on a rotating basis. This method has its pros and cons, but it’s been working for me lately because it helps me to actually finish reading nonfiction books. But right now, I actually have two nonfiction books in the rotation. One is so challenging that I can hardly read it, and the other has such tiny print that I practically need a magnifying glass to get through it. So my overall reading pace has somewhat slowed. Plus, I figured out how to play a Solitaire version of Dominion, so that’s been keeping me busy, too. :-D
Point is, the other night I wanted a relaxing book to read before bed. Tom was working on some crazy project across the street with his dad, and I just wanted to cuddle into our soft, flannel sheets and veg. A while back, I inherited a box of books (“oh you like to read, here are some books!”), a lot of which were by Nora Roberts. She’s so prolific that I’m not sure I can say that I’m a “fan” as I’ve read only a small percentage of her books, and a lot of the ones I’ve flipped through don’t actually look like they would be my cup of tea.
Still, I have read a few of her series, and the Bridal Quartet in particular has become a favorite of mine. Since the random box of books happened to include one complete trilogy, I thought I would start there.
The foreword to Irish Thoroughbred stated that this was Roberts’s very first novel. It was interesting to see her earlier writing style, which was definitely not as developed as it is now. While Thoroughbred was a perfectly fine tale, it definitely followed many romance-novel cliches. I liked the main characters, but it felt like Travis was a little too far into the stereotype of the domineering male. Even though Dee wasn’t a meek little miss, I still felt like Travis’s protective nature sometimes crossed the line to bullying. Even though this book isn’t that old (about my age, actually!), it was still interesting to see how it felt like it fit more with the times – no sex between these two until after they were married, and then it was all properly off-stage, as it should be (and as it isn’t always in Roberts’s later books, sadly). I really liked that bit. I’m not sure why it’s so difficult for authors to write romance books where there is good tension between the two characters without actually describing in detail all of their interludes.
Somehow, it only took me like a day and a half to read Thoroughbred, and I just dived right into Rose, because why not? Written – and set – almost ten years later, this book focuses on Dee’s cousin, Erin, who comes from Ireland to work for Travis and Dee’s neighbor, Burke. One thing that I loved about this book was getting to see Travis and Dee later on – happily married, raising a family. I thought it was hilarious that Roberts gave them so many kids (they end up with five or six). It was also obvious that Roberts’s writing style had made some progress in the intervening years between these two books – Burke and Erin are better developed, as are the secondary characters. Burke was still a bit too stereotypically tall, dark, handsome, silent male, but I was willing to roll with it.
Irish Rebel was published quite a long while after the first two books, and focuses on Travis and Dee’s oldest daughter, Keeley, who falls in love with Travis’s new horse trainer, Brian. I liked both these characters a lot and felt like they had more depth than the main characters of the first two books. I really, really liked Keeley’s relationship with her family – she gets along with them so well, and has such a great relationship with her mom, even goes to talk with her about her feelings towards Brian instead of keeping them a secret. Brian was a bit obnoxious at times, but I felt like his character did make some growth throughout the story. The ending was a bit weird and rushed, like suddenly all the barriers between them just magically disappeared, and that felt a little strange. And while there wasn’t a lot of sex in this book, there was definitely more than the first two books – another (sad) sign of the changing times.
All in all, while these three didn’t strike me as books I would want to visit time and again, they were still enjoyable as a one-time read, especially as a break from my rather boring “official” books that I have going on right now. 3/5 for all three books.