Ballyrourke
by Linda O'Brien, historical (2002)
Jove (Irish Eyes), $5.99, ISBN 0-515-13409-0


What a pleasant surprise. Usually Linda O'Brien's heroines make me want to pull my teeth out one by one with a pair of pliers, but Katherine O'Rourke is actually smart enough to make me like her. The hero, however, is dumber than a sack of rotten potatoes, and since he's the man, he has to win and he has to be proven correct. Ballyrourke can go suck rocks.

Kate always thought herself an Englishwoman. However, one day, while minding her business as a Selfless Contributor to an Orphanage, a lawyer comes to her bearing news that she has inherited an estate in Ballyrourke in Ireland, courtesy of a dead grandmother she has never known. Never mind the money (heroines are always selfless like that), more important is: why would her late momma lie about her background? Kate just has to find out, so off she goes to Ireland.

Colin MacCormack is an Irish playboy manager of Bellyache Estate, and he believes that Bellyache estate rightfully belongs to his people. He wants the estates back, and he is furious that Bellyache now belongs to a half-American, half-Irish nobody named Kate. Still, Kate is hot. He can't help but to dally with her while sneaking around trying to find a missing will that will overrule Kate's claim on Bellyache.

Firstly, Colin's an idiot. A big stupid dumb idiot, if that isn't four words redundant in describing this lummox. He genuinely expects a dying old lady to change her will to disinherit her beloved granddaughter at the last moment and that this will is missing. Seriously, why would that woman disinherit her long-lost now-found granddaughter for the sake of some stupid people who don't even like the O'Rourkes and perceive the O'Rourkes as interlopers? Hello, logic, Colin? Maybe potato famine has taken its toll on generations of MacCormacks.

Secondly, that man is angry when Kate refuses to accept his miserably small monthly payments for Bellyache. Because, you see, in his delusional mind, Bellyache is his and his alone. I wonder what is point of bankrupting the entire clan just to get back Bellyache and then having no further funds to manage the land. Is there a point? Here, Colin, suck on some pebbles some more. You're stupid, you know that?

And finally, he makes no sense, while Kate does. Kate wants money - who doesn't - to go back to America and rebuild her beloved orphanage so that it will be the best ever. (Romance heroines. Sigh.) Then she decides to start her own orphanage in Bellyache. It's her land, and it's her right. But Colin, the guy who is sneaking around like a yellow-livered toad, kissing silly maids for keys to pry around the house at night for the will, sees nothing in kicking the heroine out of the house onto the streets, just to fulfill his pride.

Of course he gets to do that. In the end poor Kate is weeping as she packs for home, defeated utterly by the author and Colin, these two united under the Evil Penis Patriarchy cause, and then Colin magnanimously gets an epiphany. But epiphany is cheap when you've already won and has everything, and it is meaningless to tell the heroine that you support her and will go to America after you have rebuilt Bellyache. How long will that take? Ten years? Twenty? And of course, Kate is expected to give up her dreams and wait for him.

Talk about a pyrrhic victory. The tragedy is, Kate isn't stupid. She starts out gullible, but boy, she learns fast. Alas, with the hero, her brain and spine evaporate and all that character development is wasted in a truly tasteless "happy ending" that leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. Kate deserves better. I deserve better. Bellyache's a tomb for brainy heroines.

Any story that has the heroine saying that it is wrong for anyone to sacrifice his or her loved ones for a pile of rock only to marry a man that does just that has its priorities screwed.

Rating: 67

PS: Check out page 81 for an amazing description of our heroine's amazing shrinking and expanding nipples if you are strong enough.


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