Thursday, February 10, 2011

Book Review: Learning To Be Irish

Full disclosure: Emjae Edwards, the author of Learning To Be Irish, is published by Inknbeans Press – the very same publisher I work with. That said, no one at Inknbeans asked me to read this book, and I don’t bother to review books on my blog that I don’t think are worth reading.

As a general rule, I don’t read romances. The few that I’ve tried in the past have largely proved disappointing, usually due to cardboard characters and unrealistic plot twists. However, I was intrigued by the cover of Learning To Be Irish: as the wife of a Chicago Irishman, I wear a Claddagh as my wedding ring. That, coupled with the fact that I wanted to read some of Inknbeans Press’s other offerings, inspired me to buy this book – a decision I will never regret.

Daire, the heroine, is a typical spoiled American girl with little understanding of her heritage. Despite maintaining a pen-pal relationship with her Irish grandfather for most of her formative years, she doesn’t seem to have developed a strong bond with him; hence, she is surprised when he leaves her his home in northern Ireland. On a whim, she decides to visit the place before she puts it up for sale.

Ms. Edwards’s writing is so descriptively warm and inviting that I found myself devouring this book whole in one sitting. Her characters – both Daire and her potential love interests – are fully developed people with winning traits and devastating faults. Even the minor characters seem to breathe with life. Her ability to transport the reader from wherever they are to the small Irish village of Arlenhill is remarkable and enchanting.

Both the hero and the heroine learn and grow from loving each other, which is why I wouldn’t call this a romance. Instead, let’s call it contemporary relationship fiction (a phrase I think I’ve heard around Inknbeans Press) – I know it may be splitting hairs, but this isn’t your grandmother’s bodice-ripping fiction. Besides, that lets me continue to be prejudiced against romance novels even as I devour Emjae Edwards’s other books.

Purchase your copy of Learning To Be Irish at Smashwords or For more great Inknbeans Press books, visit their website.

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