Thursday, April 21, 2011
The Irish Bride
When her employer, the horrible Noel Cardwell, harasses her while she is working on his estate Farrell Kirwan flees back to her families nearby village. There she discovered that her brother had been accidentally murdered while he was trying to collect rent money for Lord Cardwell from their family friends, the O'Rourkes. Michael Kirwan had been a kind man, but he let his greed get the best of him and Aidan O'Rourke could no longer tolerate his dealings, but when he pushed him he did not expect Michael to hit his head on a stone and die. Now Farrell is in trouble because she slapped the Lord's son and Aidan because he killed the Lord's agent and their family agrees their is only one solution. Even though Farrell is to marry Liam, the calm and settled brother, she is pushed into marrying Aidan so that the two of them can run away together. Aidan plans to go to America, the land of plenty, and settle in New York or Boston and provide Farrell with a better life- a life she could never have in Ireland. For years Aidan has wanted Farrell; she is the most beautiful girl in the village, but he has maintained his distance because of her relationship with his brother, but now she is all his and he will never let her go.
Farrell is swept up in the events and the two begin their long journey to America, but they are being followed by Noel Cardwell who is determined to get Farrell and punish the man who took her from him. The journey is arduous and the ship journey is long, but the two do get to know each other and Farrell realizes she may be mistaken in her judgments of Aidan. But once they dock in America their plans change and Aidan decides that they should move out west to Oregon to get their 160 acres of farmland and Farrell worries that he does not listen to her input. Meanwhile Noel has followed them and hired people to track them down as he will stop at nothing to get them and when Aidan discovers this he decides not to worry Farrell with the problems. In Oregon there is another change as Aidan wants to go into business at a saw mill, and Farrell's hopes for a simple farm life are crushed even while she knows Aidan thinks he is doing what is best for her. The two of them have a lot to work through in order for both of them to understand that what is best for them might not be what is expected and to dodge the men who are hunting them, but when they stick together they manage to find their happily ever after.
This is different then most romances novels I read (Regency) but I have really enjoyed the Alexis Harrington novels I have read in the past and this one looked promising. The circumstances that threw Aidan and Farrell together were immediately engrossed and I wanted to read on to discover how they would make their relationship work under such daunting circumstances and how they would survive their long journey and the men hunting them. Farrell was amazing and I admired her for her strength, her intelligence, and her ability to stand up for herself. She was presented with few options and I liked that she did not sputter and get annoying when she was presented with such a difficult choice, but smartly realized there really weren't any other options for her to take. Her determination to marry Liam even while Aidan was really perfect for her was explained well so I did not feel like she was being naive, just letting her past affect her future. She was willing to work hard to accomplish what she wanted and she was willing to stand up to Aidan when needed, but also trust him to make some decisions. There was a lot of conflict, mainly internal, about her leaving Liam and about Aidan sometimes making decisions that weren't in their best interests.
Normally I would get frustrated with Aidan's complete inability to understand what Farrell really wanted from him, but Harrington does a tremendous job here by making it so clear that Aidan really does genuinely think he is doing what is best for Farrell. While I was upset at him at times, I was struck by how much he cared about Farrell throughout the book and it made it all the more sweet when he did decide to listen to her and realized that what she wanted was what would make him happy. Their relationship was the focus of this book and we got to read about how their relationship progressed from one-sided love to mutual respect and appreciation for the other. There was some sex in the book and it was romantic and sweet, but there was not a lot and I would not describe it as hot. I really enjoyed the side-plot where they were being hunted down by Noel Cardwell because it was well-written, it served as the impetuous to get the story moving, and it served as a constant in the book without being overwhelming or taking over from the romance. There was some historical information about Ireland and the potato famine and immigration to American during the era of the Know-Nothings which I appreciated since it put the book in context.
Rating: I enjoyed this book like all of her books because of the romance and the focus on the relationship and I would recommend it to people who were into more sedate (not boring) romances.