by Nora Roberts
Includes Irish Thoroughbred (1981) and Irish Rose (1988)
Because I tend to do everything backward, I read this story's second sequel, Irish Rebel, before I knew Irish Thoroughbred and Irish Rose existed. This isn't really surprising to me, mainly because I don't usually read romance novels, despite all evidence to the contrary here.
Well, whatever. This is going to be a two part review, the first part posted here for Irish Thoroughbred. Because this book is 500 pages long, and really, I need a break from all this Irish crap after 200 pages. All this "son of a black devil" and "by all the saints and apostles" and "let me tell you everything you never wanted to know about leprechauns" in a charming Irish method of speaking that constantly ends sentences with "is" will slowly drive me mad.
Adelia Cunnane. Her hot temper set the heart of Travis Grant aflame. Now the proud, powerful owner of Royal Meadows horse farm resolved to make this wild Irish Thoroughbred his own.This is probably the most to-the-point summary I've ever seen. Except it uses the word "aflame" and that's just one of those suspicious keywords, which would normally tip me off, but as I'm on this horrible mission to read every horsey romance novel I can obtain for free (I guess that's what I'm doing) I chose to ignore it. Adelia, Travis, wild Irish powerful horse farm...got it, check, I'm good to go. And so it becomes increasingly clear that I am going to read trashy beach novels for the rest of my life.
So here's the deal. Adelia is a twenty-three year old, redheaded, Irish version of Ashleigh Griffen. Travis is...um, Brad Townsend. Only he lives in Maryland. Really, that's the only change you have to make. Because of this, Irish Thoroughbred reminds me of about half the Brad/Ashleigh fanfics that were ever written. It is frighteningly spot on. Paddy is Adelia's elderly uncle, and trainer at Travis's farm. Therefore he is Charlie. No, seriously. He's Charlie. Only an Irish version of Charlie. Margot is Lavinia (in that she's a blond bitch who was/is screwing Travis/Brad), Laura is Jennifer (who is a blond bitch who desperately wants to replace Margot/Lavinia, but never does). Oh, yeah, and there's Majesty. He is a horse, and he is Townsend Pride. Okay.
Now that we've got that all squared away, we shall begin!
Adelia has been invited to live with her uncle at Royal Meadows in Maryland after her aunt dies and she has to sell their farm in Ireland. Because Adelia is an orphan (of course), she has no other option and thus she flies to America to begin again. Adelia is one of those remarkably innocent, rustic people who has no idea how to work a dishwasher. She's also 5'2" and looks like she's fifteen, encouraging all these comparisons to pixies and fey, which never gets old for the Irish, surely. She immediately wants to set to work on the farm, but Paddy's all "you're a girl!" and she's all "I don't understand jet lag, but I do understand horses!" and thus she marches right up to the most difficult, but naturally most talented horse in the stable (Majesty) and starts to cuddle him. The horse practically cuddles her right back and everyone bows to her superior knowledge and decides that from this day forward she will ride Majesty in his workouts, which tend to make no sense. The horse runs around in a circle and no one appears to wear a helmet, so who knows what the hell is going on.
After a full day of working after getting off the plane, Adelia still can't calm down and decides to go back out to the stable, where she is nearly physically assaulted by Travis because he thinks she's a teenage boy (Who is trespassing...I don't think Travis just runs around beating up teenage boys for fun. At least, I don't think that's what he does for fun, but you never know) before her cap falls off and reveals all her glorious auburn hair. Immediately Travis is all smitten as she rails against him and calls down every Irish saint she can think off to smite him for her. Thankfully Adelia has no other super powers besides her magical horse sense properties, and Travis just grins before she informs him that she rode Majesty. Yeah, take that! He doesn't believe her, but because she is Irish and therefore never lies, he comes around. So he eventually tells her that her hands are too rough, and she's all offended and runs off.
The next day they naturally clash again because he's landed gentry and she's not (it's that common Irish tune raising its ugly head again) and she makes some quip about needing to curtsy to him, which I guess is just too much because he can't contain himself any longer and they're making out in a stall. Mainly because this is the best way to make her shut up, but does tend to piss her off more. Soon after Adelia saves a foaling mare, because she's so super awesome and knows Gaelic. Travis sends her flowers, which takes her about two pages to compute that they're for her (despite reading her name on the envelope, she waits until reading the card to exclaim that they're for her). Wow, she's smart as a whip, that one. Then Travis gives her a paycheck and she's all excited about the money. Because it's more money that she's ever had in her life she doesn't try to hoard it, but instead tries to give it back until Paddy and Travis both tell her to go spend it all and have fun for once. Travis enlists his sister to teach Adelia how to shop, and they run into Laura who is desperate to screw Travis, only she calls it "comfort" because his girlfriend ran off to Europe and he's currently not getting any. People assume, anyway.
At some point Adelia goes down to the barn at night and runs into a drunken groom who tries to rape her. Let me just point out, Adelia has a big mouth and she's entirely too confident that she can handle herself. She can, under no circumstances, handle herself. So after she threatens him with this completely non-threatening promise to kick him into the next century, he proceeds to smack her around and attempts to rape her before Travis comes along and, in classic Nora Roberts fashion (as I am ridiculously slow to find out) beats him up and does so until Adelia tells Travis to stop. I am reading too many of these. It's painfully obvious.
However! Instead of taking this time to hit on her, as I am coming to expect, she faints and he takes her up to his house and doesn't try to screw her. In fact, he keeps his hands to himself. Breaking this trend is a little weird for me, but I can go with that.
Now we get to the horse racing. Nora Roberts is under some mistaken impression that a) the Bluegrass Stakes is run at Churchill Downs, b) that the Churchill Downs track is a mile and a quarter long and c) that it's perfectly natural for a horse that wins the Kentucky Derby to skip the Preakness in preparation for the Belmont. We're supposed to believe that Travis enters Majesty in the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes, which he wins, but not in the Preakness. Instead he enters this other horse in the Preakness, which comes in second. If Majesty was in the Preakness, we don't know about it. Since no one is running around talking about the Triple Crown, I am assuming he didn't run. Which is ridiculous.
So Majesty wins the Belmont Stakes and Paddy takes some time here to have a heart attack. They rush him to the hospital, where he gets all crotchety and tells Travis that he has to take care of Adelia. Because he has to. Really, if she can't figure out a dishwasher, what chance does she have in this world without a Brad Townsend look alike to guide her through life? Travis is remarkably on this and declares that he's going to marry Adelia. Like, right now. Adelia's all, "what?" only in Irish. Then she declares that she's not going to cry because she's never cried and then she cries. So they get married to make Paddy feel better, and figure that once he's well they'll just get an annulment because that won't possibly hurt his delicate heart or anything.
They get married and then proceed to try not to talk to each other too much, which hurts Adelia's feelings because she's all in love with him and he's probably all in love with her but won't act like it. Paddy gets out of the hospital and they're still going on with this marriage thing, but they're not having sex, which is just about the end of the world.
But then it rains. The power goes out, and Adelia wakes up and is all, "Yay, it's raining!" and Travis walks in and is all, "Oh, you're not scared of lightning" and she's all, "Of course not, I'm trying to get hit by lightning" as I'm thinking, "What is this guy, a child predator?" and he's all, "You are so sexy as you try to get hit by lightning" and she's all, "Oh, yeah, I totally know that" and he's all, "Let's have sex now" and she's all "finally" only in Irish. Which has something to do with devils, banshees, and blowing free.
So they finally have sex and they're happy. Then Margot/Lavinia shows up and Adelia hears her going on and on about how Travis can just wake up now, divorce Adelia, and marry her because she was just being silly by forcing him to choose between his life with the horses and a life of randomly traveling the globe and spending their collective fortunes. Adelia doesn't wait for his answer and immediately goes to the airport, where he finds her and drags her back to the farm and tells her that he loves her and wants to have sex again and that Margot/Lavinia has a small brain that he is not at all attracted to. Adelia's good with that and thus we come to the end.
In part two we have the following:
Erin McKinnon. A bold beauty, she accepted Burke Logan's loveless proposal and his cool promise of security and wealth. But could this ravishing Irish Rose win her hard-hearted husband's love?I'm presuming that answer is yes.