Hot Nights in Ballymuir
Hot Nights In Ballymuir wasn’t very hot. It wasn’t very interesting either. It whiled away a couple of hours, but it didn’t leave much of an impression on me.
Jenna Fahey is an American, a chef who has opened a restaurant in Muir House in the picturesque town of Ballymuir. Jenna lives to cook, and wants her restaurant to have three stars from the Irish Guide. She isn’t close to her family, and has made Ballymuir and Muir House her home.
One morning when Jenna is in the market shopping for fresh produce, she is knocked down by a Porsche driven by Devlin Gilvane. Dev is Irish, but lives in London where he works for a company that builds resorts and hotels. They want to build one in Ireland and Dev is there to scout out the countryside for a good location. Ballymuir looks like a nice place to build a resort, and it’s too bad that Muir House is taking up prime land that could be better used for, say a nice luxury hotel. Jenna, who loves Muir House and loves Ballymuir does not agree. She, the American outsider, is more passionate about her adopted country and its charms than Dev, who has distanced himself from his roots and his home.
There’s potential in this story for a big clash, and I expected lots of fireworks between Jenna and Dev over his plans for development, but they never came to the big blow-out I expected. There were some minor clashes, including a funny one when Dev brings his cell phone into Jenna’s restaurant in violation of the rules and she tosses it into the lobster tank. Jenna and Dev do disagree, a lot but they mostly tiff about little things.
Kelly brings in a couple of secondary characters who only dilute the story further. Jenna’s spoiled sister Maureen drops by, and it seems we might have a source of conflict there, but this sub-plot peters out. Maureen flashes a bit of attitude and resentment and then miraculously settles down. Dev’s widowed mother comes to Ballymuir to stay and meets up with her old love who has a scandalous past. Dev worries – for about a paragraph and then that too is all smoothed over.
Dev and Jenna don’t strike many sparks as a couple. There’s a bit of “oh woe, I can’t have an orgasm” on Jenna’s part, and then Dr. Dev magically cures her. While they have some funny spats, and a couple of sweet love scenes, they don’t have that magical chemistry that makes a good couple. During the time I was reading this book, I watched the move The Quiet Man with Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne. Now there was a couple with chemistry! If only Jenna and Dev had had a bit of it.
Hot Nights In Ballymuir is smoothly written and reflects Dorien Kelly’s deep love of Ireland. As a novel with an Irish setting, it is nice enough but it lacks the passion and intensity of a good romance novel.