Daughter of Ireland by Sonia Massie
(Jove, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-515-12835-X
****
Ireland has certainly become extremely popular as a setting for romance novels. Jove, attempting to take advantage of this trend, has introduced a whole line of Irish based books, “Irish Eyes.” Thus far, things look good for this new endeavor, at least based on the two books I have read, Lisa Hendrix’ To Marry an Irish Rogue and now Sonia Massie’s Daughter of Ireland.

Massie cleverly takes advantage of the significant social and economic changes that are happening in contemporary Ireland to frame a story about the clash of the old Irish ways with the modern global economy. Her heroine, Moya Mahoney, is a seanchai, a storyteller who keeps the old tales of kings and fairies alive and who prizes the sense of rootedness and tradition that characterized the old Ireland. Her hero, Rory O’Brien, is a hard driving New York businessman who wants to bring Moya’s sleepy village of Gormloch into the 21st century.

The two meet when Rory comes to Gormloch for his uncle’s funeral. Angus O’Brien was a seanchai and the owner of the village’s pub and local gathering place, Lios na Daoine Sidhe. A bachelor, he had lived his last years in Moya’s bed and breakfast. Moya is devastated by his death; he was her only “family.” She is even more devastated when she discovers that Angus has left the pub to his American nephew, a man who has no feeling for or understanding of the Irish ways or Irish traditions. Rory sees a tumble down pub, not a place where generations of Gormloch folk have celebrated their happy moments and mourned their losses.

Rory starts out as the prototypical A-type, a man who has escaped his unhappy childhood and made a fortune in the computer business. He is at first frustrated with the easy-going, friendly Irish ways, but slowly comes to appreciate them. He especially comes to appreciate his lovely landlady. Moya is nothing like the women he knows in New York and he is immediately attracted to her. But she is rooted in Gormloch while he must live in the busy world beyond the village.

Rory’s decision to build a computer plant in Gormloch promises prosperity to this depressed part of County Kerry, but it also threatens those things that Moya values most. Their growing romance is severely tested by this difference in goals and values.

Rory is the best character in Daughter of Ireland. It is great fun to watch Ireland weave its spell over this man who had never before thought of anything except business. Moya is likewise a fully developed character, but I have to admit that I got a little frustrated with her refusal to see that Gormloch needed progress and prosperity.

Never having visited the Emerald Isle, I must leave it to others better informed than I to determine whether Massie caught the character, customs and dialect of the country. The cast of secondary characters is entertaining and seems to represent accurately the life of an Irish village. I enjoyed the way that the author used Moya’s storytelling to interweave some of the old Irish folk tales into the book.

If you are fond of Irish romances and enjoy watching Ireland and the heroine humanize the hero, then you should enjoy Daughter of Ireland. I shall keep an eye out for the other books in the “Irish Eyes” line and hope that they sustain the quality of the first two.

--Jean Mason


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