by Nora Roberts
- includes Irish Rebel (2000) and Sullivan's Woman (1984)
Lately I can't seem to help this deep urge to read horsey romance novels. Thankfully Nora Roberts satisfies this disturbing need without making me fall off a chair in a fit of hysterical giggles (which has been known to happen to me while reading romance novels since around the age of sixteen...and this clearly means I have never matured).
She was practically royalty -- the daughter of a rich, renowned horse-breeding dynasty. He was just a hardworking horse trainer. But Brian Donnelly was in America now, where even he might aspire to possess the breathtaking Keeley Grant. Her wealth and position didn't deter Brian...for it was the innocence Keeley offered him that beguiled the wild Irish rebel and threatened to corral his restless heart.
This is a two in one sort of deal, because Irish Rebel isn't exactly long enough to deserve its own mass market paperback, I suppose. So they shoved in this other story, Sullivan's Woman, which has nothing to do with horses whatsoever, and the only link between the two being that the main male characters are displaced Irishmen. Which we ALL LOVE. And they have issues, of course. Don't they all? Anyway, since all I did during the second story was sit around and fantasize about Cillian Murphy for some reason, we'll ignore it completely and focus on Irish Rebel. Because it has horses and I didn't spend all my time thinking about random Irish actors while reading it. Therefore it must have gained my attention somehow.
So apparently Nora Robert's first book was entitled Irish Thoroughbred. It has two sequels, the first being Irish Rose and the second Irish Rebel. I don't know why this thing is called Irish Rebel, because I'm pretty sure no one was rebelling, but it sounds all romance-like and there's a display of masculine fist fighting and, oh!, bitching about gentry. Because you can't have a good Irish tale without someone bitching about the gentry and then falling in love with one of them.
Anyway, Keeley is all flame haired and spunky and a virgin. Of course, she's a virgin but no one ever uses this nasty label, preferring to call her "innocent." Because once a woman loses her virginity I guess they become tainted whores or they get married in romance novels, because these are their only options. So, Keeley is the daughter of Travis and Adelia Grant, who had their story told back in Irish Thoroughbred, and which I intend to read for my amusement later. She's their oldest daughter, and runs a little riding academy on the grounds of their sweeping and glorious thoroughbred farm somewhere in Maryland. She's also a silver medalist in some unnamed Olympics. I guess she's in her mid-twenties, because Brian is thirty and using my skills of deduction I'm guessing that would put her at about 25. Anyhoo, she buys abused horses, turns them around, and then has abused and/or snotty rich kids ride them. You'd think there would be some contention there, but no. The kids get along great. It's Brian we have to worry about.
Brian is the new trainer at the farm, and he's got his Irish brogue going on and never wants to be tied down and dislikes rich people, although I suppose he didn't quite think that one through completely since being a trainer he'd have to converse daily with "the gentry," as he calls them with much disdain. Risky career move, Brian. However, being your typical romance hero, his dislike for all people well-to-do doesn't stop him from turning on the charm with Keeley who I keep expecting to steal his stupid cigar and burn him in the eye with it considering how she acts. But she doesn't and thankfully he stops smoking the cigars, but he's still all tortured because his family is one step out of poverty or whatever (and his father is somewhat of an alcoholic and a gambler, which I didn't see coming at all!) and he can't be tied down and Keeley doesn't understand. Anyway. The second he finds out she's a virgin all plans to ravish her in a stall or wherever he's having these fantasies comes to a screeching halt and she has to do all the leg work. Keeley does a 180 and initiates all the gentle sex, while we return to the stall later for the rough sex, which, of course, is the most eyeopening for both because they're so, I don't know, alike but not or whatever.
About halfway through the secondary plot sort of kicks in and the two save this abused horse from one of those horrible asshole trainers we see so often in the Thoroughbred Series. Keeley nurses the horse to health and Brian puts the horse back on the track and she decides to give him half interest in the horse which naturally starts flashing warning signs in his head because, holy crap, he might own something and therefore start spreading roots or be tied down or have more objects than he can fit in easily in a suitcase or something else that Keeley clearly isn't buying. She keeps insisting and he keeps saying no and she just starts ignoring him after a while and then the horse wins his race at Pimlico or Charles Town after being nursed back to health. So they're all yay! and he starts to forget he owns part of this horse with Keeley and he leaves her in the stable to go check on his second love, this filly called Bad Betty (who, I will admit, is awesome). While he's away the evil former trainer shows up and starts pushing Keeley around. Keely's all "I'm Irish and I'll cut you, bitch," but when her threat of disemboweling him with a hoof pick doesn't materialize Brian shows up and starts to beat him up. Fun! Even better is his simple explanation: "He put his hands on you." Keeley is pretty much besides herself and starts telling him to stop trying to kill the guy while everyone else just stands there and stares until her father shows up and assists in beating the crap out of the guy. Which is even better.
Keeley goes home with her mom, and she's all pissed off that Brian and her father are, like, red blooded males, while her mother just smiles and seems totally happy about this development. Then the men return home and apparently her dad has discovered that his trainer and his daughter are going at it in stalls and showers and beds and other places, probably, and is not pleased. Brian is none too pleased either, being pissed off that Keeley wanted him to stop beating up on the other drunk trainer guy while allowing her dad to beat him up. Because that was Brian's job, or something to that effect, while her dad is all pissed off that he wasn't aware that this whole sex thing was happening. Then there's a reference to going back to the house to get the shotgun, which is just the best conversation, while Keeley starts yelling at Brian about how he's such an "Irish horse's ass" and how she was handling the drunk guy juuuust fine without him. So he yells at her about how she's been distracting him with sex, and she gets even more pissed off and then her dad goes off to the house (under the ruse of letting them deal with it, but I'm sure he's going to go root around for his shotgun). It's like the best ending to a romance novel ever. Only while her father is off collecting his ammunition, Keeley and Brian make up and decide to get married within about two pages because they are in love and cannot wait to get married as soon as humanly possible, which means that Brian needs to go back to the main house to ask her father's permission before he finds that shotgun. Thus the gentry and the lower class Irish get back together and all is sunshine and roses. Only Brian isn't going to own any more horses, damn it. A wife, kids, a horse farm and a mortgage he seems to be able to manage. Just no horses.
So, we've got more romance coming up with The Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell or perhaps I'll read Melanie's Treasure first. I just have way too many options right now.