Jaysus, Mary and Joseph - it’s surprised I was not to see a cartoon cover on this book. For isn’t it Disney Ireland entirely?
Nick Desmond is a cop from a New York family of cops - until his father is murdered and Nick framed for taking graft. Now he freelances as a bodyguard and dreams of revenge against Angelo Fazzini, the mobster who killed his father.
Then Fazzini’s mother, Maureen, offers Nick a job. Ten years ago, she kidnapped Fazzini’s daughter, Erin, to save her from her Fazzini’s “evil legacy.” Maureen’s been hiding Erin in a convent school ever since. Now Maureen is going to fake her own death, collect her granddaughter, and live under her maiden name in her Irish home of Ballybronagh. She’ll pay Nick $5,000 a week to keep them safe for one year. If he succeeds, she’ll give Nick the evidence he needs to convict Fazzini of his father’s murder. (Apparently, this elaborate scenario makes more sense to her than just going to the police and having the drug trafficking murderer arrested immediately. Go figure.)
Meanwhile, getting impatient, Erin calls her grandmother and leaves a message: “Mamó, it’s Erin. When are you coming for-” Then she’s interrupted, but it’s okay - Maureen has arrived to take her away.
In Ballybronagh, Maggie Mulligan is home from university. She “needs” to teach (‘tis her dream), but the Ballybronagh school is closing for lack of funds. Oh! Wait! The villagers will have a céilí, raise some money and keep the school open! (In the adorable rusticity of Ireland, it seems anyone can open a school and set their own curriculum.) The only fly in the ointment is Maggie’s propensity to become agitated and hear voices near Caisleán Dubh, the old castle near the village.
When Nick arrives in Ballybronagh he takes one look at Maggie’s “sweet little wiggle” and develops a “serious case of lust.”
Then, for about 240 pages, not much else happens. Maggie and Nick worry about hearing voices (yes, he starts hearing them, too) and want each other a lot. We’re told that Nick’s feelings are “a lot more powerful than mere lust” but what we’re shown is Nick throbbing, and getting turned on when Maggie bends over to look in the fridge. Oh yes, he also gets those obnoxious “itchy palms” so it must be love. Then Nick reminds himself that he can’t get involved because his only goal in life is to avenge his father’s death. In a year or so. If we can stay awake that long.
Maggie is so relentlessly innocent that even Nick wonders, “How many gorgeous women made it though college as virgins?” (If only more authors asked themselves this question before they started writing.) In any event, instead of Maggie’s emotions, we’re offered such delightful images as her “vagina clenched against the unbearable emptiness.”
In spite of the fact that she’s read lots of “yummy romance novels” full of “desperate passion,” apparently they included no sex. Maggie understands the basics (from her mother!), but is astonished by foreplay and oral sex. Will he fit inside her? Is he moaning because it hurts him? What an eejit.
Ballybronagh is like an Irish Brigadoon. These quaint, simple folk live in a bucolic, fantasy Ireland, entertaining themselves with credulous superstition instead of television and computers.
Finally, there is no suspense whatsoever. Nick’s vendetta stops because Maureen’s going to just hand over the evidence he needs. (Someday.) Nick leaves Maureen and Erin alone at home whenever the throbbing starts and he wants to spend time with Maggie. (Hey - they’ve got an alarm system.)
And Fazzini is totally inept. No matter how many times he listens to Erin’s voicemail message he never hears her say her name. He wonders and wonders. Could the message have been from Erin, his long lost daughter? Yeah, this guy’s a big threat.
The last few pages are a little frenzy of activity, raising the paranormal elements of the story to new heights of implausibility. Then, thankfully, it’s over.
If you like cardboard fantasies, you could buy this book. Or you could buy an Irish postcard, so you have the pretty picture without the pointless story and inane dialogue.
-- Judi McKee