by Lynn Bailey, historical (2001)
Jove, $5.99, ISBN 0-515-13014-1
The Irish Bride is actually a standard he-marries-her-for money romance that is as original as its title. But since originality is a luxury in the romance genre, I shouldn't nitpick on that. But I can say that this story doesn't actually come to life except at the last few chapters, and until then, it's pretty mundane all the way.
Sir Nicholas Kirwan inherits a bankrupt title when his father went too many shopping sprees in brothels and gambling dens. So he needs money, so what faster way to get instant cash influx than to marry an heiress, right? But it's 1816, and Ireland is facing the Great Depression. Heiresses are as rare as dodos.
But one fine day he stumbles upon pretty Blanche Ferris and her broken carriage. Blanche acts like a petulant brat - yes, the Spoiled Prettier, Younger Sister saying hi here. Rietta, the bluestocking elder sister (she reads Austen), appears with help, sees Nick, and her heart goes pitter-patter.
What next? They marry, Blanche insinuates that Nick has the hots for her, and Rietta the smart one stews. And stews. There's a secondary romance between Nick's sister and a mere tenant of Nick's land, a relationship which Nick opposes. The final chapters when Rietta puts her foot down and demand Nick to cease his stubborn interference in his sister's love life are what brings both Rietta and Nick to life.
But it's too late. Nick is the typical War Hero Who Won't Believe In Love Ever (with no clear, convincing reason as to why), and Rietta is the typical plain elder sister heroine who is convinced that men will always flock to Blanche instead of her. Pretty boring, really, and their marriage progresses in a predictable manner too - wedding night, she gets star struck, she wonders, he wonders, et cetera. There is an amusing irony in here, which I don't know is intentional or not: sensible Rietta reads Austen (not romance, surely!) while spoiled, bratty Blanche reads - gasp - romances. What's going on?
The Irish Bride is as nondescript a romance as its title suggests. It feels like many romances I have read before, it is inoffensive and pleasant, and it is unfortunately also very easy to forget soon after.
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