Wild Irish Rose
I’ve long been an admirer of the writing of Lisa Ann Verge. Her Heaven in his Arms is one of my favorite Road Romances. So I keenly anticipated reading her latest release, Wild Irish Rose, which is another Road Romance. And while it took me awhile to appreciate this book, something unusual and very wonderful happened while reading it.
After the first third or so, and being bothered by some very purple prose, I noticed that I was hearing in my head every line of dialogue said by the heroine in her lilting Irish brogue. This character had completely come alive for me, and since she lived in medieval Ireland, I’d say that was quite a feat!
Wild Irish Rose is the tale of Moreen, a foundling raised in a convent who sets out to join a troop of minstrels on a quest to discover her parentage. This bawdy group of minstrels includes the lusty, poetic actor Colin, who is itching to get under Moreen’s skirts.
There is quite a bit of hilarity and high drama as Moreen joins the troop as a singer and actress. She sings like an angel, but the thought of behaving as these sinful and godless minstrels do sickens her. She feels no better than a whore, but even that is better than not knowing who she really is, really belongs to.
Colin isn’t really who he seems to be either. Not just a lusty actor, he is the son of a clan chief who watched his family butchered in war with the English a decade before. Now he wants revenge, and through Moreen, he just might be able to get it. The feelings these two have for each other are undeniable, although each chalks it up to pure and simple lust. But there is more there, and they discover their love when the truth about Colin is revealed. Moreen is desperate, willing to sacrifice her innocence to lure Colin away from his revenge, which they are both certain will lead to his death.
This was a very powerful scene to read, and was the moment in which Colin became as real for me as Moreen. She taunts him by saying that, with him gone, she will end up as nothing more than a whore. When he responds, “You will whore for no one but me,” I felt a chill down my spine.
The powerful moments in this book are mixed up with some very hilarious ones. This troop of minstrels, thieves, whores, and drunkards, care for one another as a family, and this caring comes out in both poignant and funny ways. Bodily functions, urges – nothing is sacred.
The secondary characters in this book, while seemingly cruel when Moreen joined them, care for each other like the family Moreen never had. Yes, they do represent many of the seven sins, such as gluttony and lust, but Moreen herself, by her pride and unwillingness to try to see beyond the superficial, is by no means perfect.
Her pride and unwillingness slowly melt away as she comes to see her fellow band of merry-makers as individuals. For his part, while Colin is more poet than warrior, he feels his destiny is to die while seeking revenge. But Moreen touches his heart in such a way that he is able to make peace instead. Once their teasing and taunting becomes loving instead of hateful (on Moreen’s end), it becomes very engaging indeed.
Even though I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of hearing Moreen come alive in my head, it took me quite awhile to realize it. While the sights, sounds, and smells of Heaven in his Arms seemed so real, they seemed artificial and purposely flowery here. Whether the author has changed or I have, I cannot be sure. The purple prose takes awhile to get used to, although it is apparent the author has researched the setting thoroughly.
All in all, it’ll be worth the readers’ time to forge ahead on the journey the author proposes. For readers who enjoy Road Romances, sexual and very down-to-earth humor, this should work well. I guarantee that any reader who reads the scene of Moreen singing at her wedding will be LOL.
I give this book a qualified recommendation. The delightfully bawdy humor and the vitality of the heroine on balance outweigh the purple prose. I prefer this author’s road romances to her mystical faery books, and hope she writes another soon.