The Irish Devil
The Irish Devil would have been a lot better if it had not had so many sex scenes. I don’t think there was a chapter where there wasn’t one (or two, or three, or four) sex scenes. After I finished the book, I couldn’t help but think it would have been a marvelous big, juicy historical novel if the background had been fleshed out a bit. But history is out, sex is in. Oh well, this is still a slightly better than average romance and a pretty good first mainstream novel from one of the Ellora’s Cave authors.
William Donovan owns a prosperous freight company in San Piedras on the Arizona frontier. Despite all his wealth, he is constantly reminded that he is Irish and Catholic and therefore a second-class citizen. One of the town’s worst snobs is Paul Lennox, who has come to San Pendras to mine and make money so he can go back East and take what he considers his rightful place in New York Society. Lennox has been pressing Mrs. Viola Ross to marry him. She is from a good Southern family and he thinks her connections will help further his ambitions.
Donovan is also very attracted to Viola. She is small and dainty with silver-blonde hair, and he thinks of her as his faery queen. When Viola’s partner in their laundry business sells the equipment, marries and leaves her with nothing, Lennox proposes marriage, but Viola vehemently refuses. Lennox was behind the murder of her husband, and even though there was no love in her marriage, Viola still hates Lennox with a passion. When Donovan hears of Viola’s plight, he offers her a large sum of money to be his mistress for three months, and she agrees.
Viola’s first husband had been proper and unadventurous when it came to sex (lights out, nightclothes on), but Donovan has no limits to his sensuality. Many of the sex scenes were very erotic. Unfortunately, I thought a few were icky, especially the one with the string of jade beads, and most of all the one with the whip and the hammock that looked like a spider-web. Viola soon falls deeply in love with Donovan; both of them (in good romance novel form) unfortunately communicate fine when they are in bed, but not out of it and don’t confess their feelings until quite late in the story.
The author gives us more background on both Donovan and Viola than I’ve seen in most romantica novels. Both of them have tormented pasts. Donovan lost most of his family in the Irish famine, but he and his father survived. When his father finally died, Donovan got a position as a groom with Lady Irene, an Englishwoman in Ireland who ran a sex school. When Donovan showed his expertise, Lady Irene took him on as a pupil. Donovan was such a good pupil that she later sponsored him at a fantasy club in San Francisco where he fell for one of his partners. William wanted to marry her, but one evening, he overheard her disparage him because of his Irish birth.
Viola too had a difficult family life. Her father and brothers fought for the Union, but her mother was a Confederate sympathizer, so much so that she spied and smuggled for them and didn’t care that her actions might cause the death of her husband and sons. Viola’s husband was a Union officer who knew of her mother’s treason; he blackmailed Viola into marriage by threatening to expose her mother. She could not tell her father and brothers why she married him, and they disowned her.
These glimpses of glimpses of Donovan and Viola’s backgrounds gave them quite a bit of depth, but I wanted more. I couldn’t help but wish the author had gone into more detail on Donovan’s experiences during the famine and Viola’s during the Civil War, and spent less time on the sex scenes. Both Donovan and Viola were much more interesting when they were out of bed.
There are a few other things that bothered me as well:
- The whole town knows that Viola is Donovan’s mistress, yet she is treated with respect by all. I know that manners were looser in the West than in Victorian England, but nevertheless, this did not ring true.
- At times the author referred to Donvan as William and Lennox as Paul. I got a bit confused as to who was who since there was no rhyme nor reason to this.
- The language in the sex scenes was a mix of clinical and purple prose. The author describes Donovan’s “equipment” in fairly graphic terms, but slips into romance novel speak when it comes to Viola. I got pretty tired of her constant use of “dew” and “pearl.”
Despite my quibbles, I somewhat enjoyed The Irish Devil. I liked the characters, the story was interesting, and I remained engrossed all through the book. Whiteside’s story would have been better with far less sex, more backstory and history, but since publishers don’t seem to be buying that kind of book these days, I can only wait until the cycle turns again
|Review Date:||September 8, 2004|
|Book Type:||American Historical Romance | Frontier/Western Hist Romance|
|Review Tags:||Arizona | Frontier Romance | Frontier/Western Historical Romance | Reconstruction era | Western romance|