Irish Moonlight
by Kate Freiman, contemporary (2000)
Jove (Irish Eyes), $5.99, ISBN 0-515-12927-5


Good thing first. Kate Freiman's contribution to the Irish Eyes line isn't an overdone Irish propaganda full of running white horses or other rot. It is a romance, plain and simple, without the amateur Yankees are Eeeeevil, Irishmen are Gooooood rhetorics.

Bad news? Irish Moonlight lost me from page one. None of the characters are remotely real to me, and in a character and dialogue-driven romance like Irish Moonlight, well, the coffin is nailed shut already.

My problem with this story starts at page one when Conlan O'Hara Sloan asks his step-uncle Phelan McDermott to keep his business partner Erin McKeogh and her brother company on Con's wedding day. Now, most men I know would go, "Ooh-kay. Is she pretty?" at most, or "No way!" What does Phelan say?

A nice long diatribe about how he doesn't need a woman's company and how he will not be matchmade by his step-nephew. Then he muses aloud that he has a bad reputation, so Con would be ruining poor Erin's reputation by osmosis.

Is it me or the ghosts of Ally McBeal and countless "modern women"'s magazines are floating around here?

My senses start firing the alarm bell when Con then tells Phelan to treat Erin nicely because she is "fragile inside, real sensitive." And how Con has been keeping Erin sheltered from the Real World in Silicon Valley because that silicon valley hovel is full of ugly horny nerds wanting to rub their hands all over Erin's motherboard. And how poor Erin, oh, a shy, reclusive nerd, fragile and emotional, needs to be spared the notion of Con getting married.

And I go, "Jeez, guys, all this sensitive women's mag-speak just to get Phelan to escort a woman?"

Thankfully Erin isn't the two-year-old waif stuck in a Playboy centerfold's body like I feared, but throughout this story, the dialogs are really, really stilted and odd-sounding. The guys don't behave like guys, they behave like women in bad contemporary romances, just like those women who keep seeing hidden motives like matchmaking and commitment under every mundane daily activity. Phelan doesn't just escort Erin around the house, he tells her that he is not available for anything. And Erin isn't even offering.

Well, no matter how much money he has, if Phelan asks me to marry him, I'd get a microphone and yell at him at full volume, "No!" Spare me from a male version of Ally McBeal.

Erin's brother isn't any better. He too has the Ally McBeal theme song playing loud and clear.

Okay, so the men are castrated whiners. I can deal with it if the story is interesting. Me, I always think if a story is going to be a no-nonsense emotional affair free from shootings and blackmails and murders, there's better be some heavy sexual tension and emotional poignancy to keep the show going. No such luck in IM, where the conflicts are kept going on and on due to the characters' childish misassumptions and misjudgments of each other's character and motives. Amidst a lot of Ally McBealisms about commitment (I want, but I can't), trust (the opposite sex are all scums), and love (don't believe in it, but I want it).

After a while, I really wish someone would kill someone. Maybe then the main characters would stop their juvenile psychoanalyzing and bickering and divert their attention to solving crime instead. Alas, if wishes were horses...

To sum things up, Irish Moonlight is boring with a capital, no, gigantic, titanic B. Even amateur Irish propaganda - glowing faerie circle, heroines named Caitlin, wild white horses and all - would be preferable than this romance in monotone.

Rating: 29


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