Irish Lady
by Jeanette Baker, paranormal (1998)
Pocket, $5.99, ISBN 0-671-01734-9


Let me get down on my knees and kiss the editor of Jeanette Baker's Irish Lady for letting such a beautiful story about love and courage amidst turbulence to be published. And let me step on her or his toes hard for not making the author excise the ghost story part. Irish Lady is simultaneously "the world can go to perdition, just let me read" material and annoying because the ghost and the contemporary romance elements just don't gel that well.

Meghann McCarthy is a brilliant lawyer in England. Still, her childhood friend - and later true love - Michael Devlin's mother soon summons here back to Ireland. Michael is framed for the murder of a politician widely tipped to be the next British Prime Minister. Michael is a key player in Sinn Feinn, after all. Meghann now has to defend him/help him break out of prison, and like it or not, she is going to find herself embroiled in the tumultuous political situation in Ireland. She doesn't like it: she flees Ireland to escape the violence which she perceives as violence.

But later, as she dreams of her ancestor Nuala O'Donnell and her parallel fight for freedom in 16th century Ireland. From Nuala's ghost, she redefines her priorities and loyalties, that sort of thing.

All I can say is - wow. Meghann and Michael - wow. The author has created two complex characters here, in a relationship that struggles to thrive amidst violence and losses. Nothing is spared or sugar coated here: the anguish, the sacrifices, and yes, the courage of those fighting for what they perceive as their rights and freedom. There's nothing more beautiful to read than of a relationship that survives real, rocky hardships. In Irish Lady, Meghann and Michael's love is bittersweet: their love doesn't give everyone world peace, and the fight goes on. It makes their loves, laughter, and lives even more precious. I have demolished almost an entire box of Kleenex for them.

But heck, what is Nuala doing here? I know the author is trying to show that courage and sacrifice are always in the heart of Ireland (or something), but I am so involved in Meghann and Michael's story that Nuala's first-person narratives become an irritation. I automatically black out her stories and skip these pages after a while. If I am missing a good story there, oh well. I mean, really, what is Nuala doing here? To tell her story to her descendant? Someone get her an agent that can negotiate her own story instead of cluttering this story.

Rating: 88


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