The Irish Bride
The overall flavor of The Irish Bride left a bad taste in my mouth, mainly due to characters who remained unlikable. Elements of the plot had interesting potential but were never adequately developed. As a result, the book fell flat, surprising since I had enjoyed an earlier Lynn Bailey release – Splendid You.
Sir Nicholas Kirwan is an Irishman who fought for the English against Napoleon. After Waterloo, Nicholas is looking forward to returning home to Ireland, but when he gets there, he finds his father has died while he was away and his sisters and mother are left destitute due to his father’s gambling problems. Nick believes he can get the family out of debt and save the estate, but it will be difficult, especially since both of his sisters are looking to marry and have no dowries.
Nick’s friend David proposes a rather tasteless scheme. David is smitten with the younger of two sisters, but her father will not allow the youngest to marry until the oldest one is wed. Nick has already met the sisters and found the youngest, Blanche, charming and beautiful, and had thought of courting her himself. David tells Nick that a large settlement will be given to the husband of the oldest sister Rietta, who is sharp-tongued and not as nearly attractive as Blanche. Nick did not have any intentions of marrying Rietta for her money, but agrees to David’s scheme anyway. If Rietta proves to be agreeable, then at least Nick’s sisters will have dowries.
Rietta is no fool; she spends her time helping her father with his business, which is a good thing since her father seems almost as brainless as her sister, Blanche. All her life men have fallen for the shallow, vain, and beautiful Blanche, so when Nick begins to call, Rietta cannot believe that he is actually interested in her.
Nick eventually wants to marry Rietta for herself, even though he does not believe that they love each other. He is not gifted in the communication department and never bothers to tell her any of the important details about his financial difficulties, which sets up a golden opportunity for the Big Misunderstanding.
Rietta’s character had a lot of potential. She is intelligent and shows signs of independence, but when push comes to shove, she meekly “accepts her lot in life.” I felt sorry for Rietta, because her sister and father are horrible characters. Blanche is totally self centered and their father gave me the creeps, yet the reader is expected to believe that both of them perform a complete about-face at the end. In her characterization of Blanche and the father, Lynn Bailey did her job too well. They were both jerks in my mind, and stayed jerks in spite of their turnaround at the end.
Nick could have been a more interesting character, but his weaknesses are glossed over. He has a rather carefree attitude for the most part, but suffers from nightmares and flashbacks from his experiences at war. These are handled extremely abruptly and wrapped up too easily. All Nick’s conflicts, his younger sisters’ marriages, Rietta’s horrid family, his nightmares, are wrapped up neatly in pink bows, at the end of the book. I know this is a romance, but this simply required too much suspension of disbelief. Even when Nick is utterly drunk one night, he manages to sober up in five minutes so he can seduce Rietta. Not my idea of a romantic encounter!
The Irish Bride wasn’t a total waste of time, but it was a book filled with squandered opportunity. I commend the author for her good ideas but wish her characters and plot had fulfilled their promise.