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Jude Murray moves to Ireland to escape a career that makes her miserable and the humiliation of her ex-husband marrying the woman he left her for. Arriving in Ireland Jude spends her time researching the myths and legends of Ireland and pursues her dream of being a writer. Aidan Gallagher runs the local pub and is only too happy to help Jude with her research. Aidan and Jude find themselves falling in love but what's going to happen when Jude's six months in Ireland are over?
I consider myself to be a fan of Nora Roberts but like many prolific writers she seems to write some books that I absolutely adore and others that I don't enjoy so much. Unfortunately this book falls into the second category.
I found it very difficult to get into this book because there's just so much description. It's nice when a writer sets the scene but Nora Roberts spends a couple of chapters just describing the Irish countryside. These initial descriptions of Ireland are broken up by equally tedious explorations of Jude's emotions. By the time Jude actually made it to the house (which is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of dull and excessive description) I was ready to put the book down. Unfortunately I was on holiday and didn't have another book to read so I continued on.
The book does improve slightly when Aidan, the hero of the book, is finally introduced because he's just so much more interesting that Jude. As a romance novel this book is heavily character driven and unfortunately if you don't like the characters it's difficult to like the book. I did like Aidan, he was an interesting character and I found him quite easy to relate to but I just didn't like Jude much. The majority of the book does focus on Jude and I did like the idea of reading a book about a woman who was trying to find her way and breaking away from the expectations that had been placed on her by her family but for some reason this just didn't work for me and I have to put it down to the fact that I did not like Jude. She's not an unlikeable character, she's just very dull. I think if there had been more action and it had been more about how Jude improved her life and less Jude going over every emotion that she's ever felt at any time in the last couple of years this might have worked better.
There were some moments of enjoyment in this book. At times I found myself really drawn into the romance between Aidan and Jude, unfortunately any interesting scenes between the two of them are followed by several more scenes that are boring. This was the biggest disappointment for me. I can forgive a book that is a bit slow to start and difficult to get into but just when this book looked like it was going to get interesting it went right back to square one. The over describing things is not limited to the first couple of chapters and is consistent throughout, if only Roberts took out all of the unnecessary descriptions she would have had a really good short story or novella.
There were so many things in this book that should have worked. I thought it was great that Roberts put a lot of emphasis on Jude building friendships with women in the village as well as the relationship with Aidan. I liked that there were paranormal elements in the novel but that they were in the background. I liked that Jude gave up her job to follow her dreams. Unfortunately none of these things added to my enjoyment because they didn't add anything entertaining to the novel. I find it very frustrating because there's so much potential with this novel, so many things to like but it's all delivered in such an uninspiring way.
I had initially thought that it would be interesting to read the point of view of an American in Ireland because knowing that Nora Roberts has visited Ireland I thought that she would draw on her own experiences. If she did draw on her own experiences then I can only imagine that she went to the most old fashioned place in Ireland or that she visited about fifty years ago. Roberts portrays Ireland as being a backward place where everyone believes in fairies and ghosts and spends ALL of their time drinking. The Irish are portrayed as being casually violent and moody. For me this made it uncomfortable reading.
The last few chapters of this book were the best part of the book. I'm not going to give away what happens, but it was certainly the most exciting and gripping part of the book and left me feeling like I actually might give the rest of the trilogy a try. You finally feel like the novel is going somewhere and that things are actually happening. If only Roberts had written the whole book in the same way.
This book gets two stars from me because although a lot of the book is quite dull it does have moments of entertainment and if it wasn't for the fact that Roberts describes every little thing, including things that turn out to have no significance, in great detail this would actually be a good book. There is so much potential here and I can only hope that the next book is an improvement.