Almost an Angel

Another Dawn

A Matter of Trust

A Moment in Time

No Place for a Lady

Some Like It Hotter

Stolen Wishes

A Willing Spirit

Mulligan Stew by Deb Stover
(Jove, $5.99, R) ISBN 0-515-13309-4
Mulligan Stew is a feast for romance readers looking for fun, enchantment and strong characters caught up in something they face head on. This story has a touch of the paranormal. As I usually don’t enjoy that type of story, I am surprised I enjoyed this so much.

Culley Mulligan came to America, met a woman named Bridget Frye, fell in love with her, married her, got her with child on their honeymoon, and proceeded to leave her, never to be heard from again. Now 7 years later, Bridget discovers that Culley didn’t leave her, but was killed in an accident. As she is burying her grandmother, the only kin left in her native Tennessee, Bridget receives a letter, telling her she is welcome to come to Ireland, and to bring Culley’s son, Jacob, who will inherit half of the family farm and land.

With no other choice due to debts from her grandmother, Bridget and Jacob head to Caislean Dubh, or the Black Castle. Here she meets Culley’s mum, Fiona and sister Maggie, who welcome her with open arms. Not so welcoming is Culley’s brother, Riley. Riley is convinced that Bridget is a fake out to get money. However, even he cannot deny that Jacob is the spitting image of Culley. Doubts begin.

Bridget feels so much at home, she is determined to earn her way. She gets the idea to turn the castle into a restaurant/bed and breakfast. She has to convince Riley this is a good idea.

The paranormal aspect involves the Castle, where legend has it a curse has been placed. This is so well written into the story I hate to disclose the whole secret, as the buildup to the full story is so engaging and fun. Suffice it to say, the curse revolves around unrequited love centuries ago, and Riley and Bridget are the key to breaking the curse.

The interweaving of the old tale with the current story is entertaining and definitely sensuous. These dreams are hot and when Riley and Bridget have to deal with the feelings left over, the present lust they feel and their burgeoning respect for each other, the pages sizzle. The sexual tension can be cut with a knife and their efforts to ignore it all are amusing.

The enchantment of Ireland, the love between a man and a woman and the sense of family comes alive in this entry in the Irish Eyes Series. Family is important, and Bridget and Jacob learn all they can about being a part of a whole. Riley, who struggles with his memories of finding his father dead in the castle, is a hero in the traditional sense of the word. He has overcome the past tragedy and has not let it ruin his life. He is strong of character, not afraid to admit mistakes and not intimidated by the things he does not understand.

Bridget is a worthy heroine, full of pride and protectiveness, yet able to show her softer side when it is called for. She is stubborn, but intelligent. When she and Riley confront each other, it is with wariness, then confusion, followed by acceptance and love.

Riley’s family brings much of the history to the story, while helping both Bridget and Riley accept their feelings. Culley’s memory is used to enhance rather than interfere in their love story.

One of the strengths is the interweaving of the legend with the current day. Weird things happen, but Stover does not succumb to the temptation to make things too unusual. And I was pleasantly surprised by an unanticipated and fresh resolution at the end, along with the desired happy-ever-after.

Mulligan Stew brings a slew of fresh tastes to enjoy and a unique blend of the paranormal and the modern day, which creates a vastly enjoyable romance. Be sure to bring this one to your table!

--Shirley Lyons

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