by Nora Roberts
I think I've finally completed my trek through horsey Nora Roberts novels, unless I'm sorely mistaken and I really hope I'm not because if I have to read about one more male hero with a strange addiction to cigars I am going to fly off the handle.
Yeah, I just thought I'd throw in another version of the cover for extra kicks and...well, it's boring so I don't know why I bothered. Three horses (one of them looks suspiciously like a cow), fence, giant house, landscape that I assume is Maryland, etc. It's all inferior to Nora Roberts' name, which should tell you something.
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?Okay, so I waded through the last half of this book and finally broke down and skimmed the last quarter or so, and now I will regurgitate it to the best of my ability. The first thing you have to ask yourself after reading the above blurb is: why are they married in the first place? This is 1988. Surely this isn't some strange Irish mail order bride arrangement, right? Well, no. No it is not. Allow me to explain.
The first thing you need to know is that according to Nora Roberts, every Irish woman who arrives in America during the 1980s has no idea what electricity is. Basically. Like...dishes are washed by hand and pencil sharpeners have cranks and being a wife means you can wash the floor if you damn well feel like it because you own the floor. These are the kind of women we're dealing with here.
Erin is Adelia's...well, Adelia and Erin's mothers were third cousins so does that make them fourth cousins or third cousins once removed? However that works, they're barely related but they are Irish and therefore this relation is enough to basically make them sisters. Erin still lives in the old country and Adelia has been married for seven years and I was so hoping someone would compare her to a broodmare because she's had three kids at this point and is pregnant with twins. Unfortunately for me comparisons to horses wait until the end of the book, and only then in a somewhat unoffensive way. Anyway. Adelia and Travis and their hoard of children arrive in Ireland with Burke Logan (their neighbor, so why he's there is never really explained other than he has to be for the story to work). Burke Logan is one of those roguishly handsome types who's all "if I wanted to kiss you I would have done it already" and spends all his time staring at people in an attractive and yet completely frustrating way. Erin is the girl who gains his attention, and she doesn't want to be stared at but really she does and who knows how this eventually works out because I can't even begin to explain it because this logic doesn't really work in the real world.
Burke and Erin enter into this weird lust/hate relationship, culminated in him offering her a job as his bookkeeper because she hates living in Ireland and he sort of wants her but not really. Or, at least, not yet. So they get caught in the rain one day in Ireland and he casually offers her the job and she tries to kill him with a rake, only of course her empowered attempt to slice him to ribbons is dismantled by his masculine coolness. He disarms her and slams her into a wall and that's all sexy, I guess, and he offers her the job that she accepts and then he tries to not have sex with her in the shed in the rain and all that jazz.
SO. Erin trots off to America and lives with her third cousin once removed and works for Burke. Eventually it becomes obvious that the two just don't get along, along with the fact that they just really want to rip at each other's clothes whenever they're not getting along, which is all the time. He essentially wants her to be his live in lover, which is totally not going to fly with Erin, and so she goes off and flirts with someone else and he gets all pissed off and drags her off to his house (again, which is apparently sexy) and manhandles her (again, supposedly sexy) and has the appropriately glossed over sex (which, ding!, deflowers her and totally was not expected but of course was). So he's all oh, she was "innocent" and she's all "stop babying me even though I'm curled up in the fetal position and not responding to you" and he babies her anyway and eventually decides they should get married. She goes along with this for some reason and thus they are married.
Afterward Erin's all put off because he doesn't want her to act like a wife. For clarification, being a wife to Erin means she should make her husband breakfast, make the bed, and clean things. To Burke, he just wants her to do whatever she wants so long as she doesn't clean anything. You can imagine the disconnect, and I'm not really sure who is more annoying here. Erin takes this to mean she's just a legal mistress. Burke takes this to mean she's crazy. I think it's a little bit of both. Anyway, we soon discover all of Burke's stupid hardships because his daddy abandoned his mommy and left him with this really random half-Latino half-sister named Rosa that he has clean his house while refusing to acknowledge her as his sister. That...is weird, to say the least. So Erin finally starts breaking things and informing him that she will not be cleaning up after herself and all is just dandy in the Logan household.
Until the Bluegrass Stakes, which again Nora Roberts seems to genuinely think takes place at Churchill Downs. Burke's horse, Double Bluff (because he is a gambler and thus all things associated with him must be named after gambling terms, if he isn't thinking in gambling terms...all this crap about folding hands and falling chips and odds making...the farm is called Three Aces. I mean, couldn't it have just ended there?), runs in the Bluegrass Stakes and is disqualified immediately after he finishes because he's been drugged. Like...I don't get how that works, but whatever. He's drugged, they know instantaneously, and he's disqualified. Moving on to the Kentucky Derby, we discover that some previously affluent trainer had someone drug the horse and now wants to kill it on Derby day with cyanide. Because the Kentucky Derby is so uber shady and this happens all the time, right?
Erin is down in the backside trying to get herself over her fear of horses. This is at least a little refreshing. She's terrified of the things, but she's starting to get over it until she overhears the trainer and his accomplice talking about the drugging. They find her and toss her in a van and discuss killing her. Enter massive plot point that completely justifies how any completely doomed relationship eventually works out in fiction (even though it never makes sense, and usually happens in fan fiction most of the time): the girl is in danger, so the guy swoops in and saves her, therefore saving their strained and/or psychotic relationship! Burke does just this, after this completely inane conversation with a policeman who is trying to somehow decipher if Erin was kidnapped or just decided to rent a car and take a nice Saturday drive on Derby day. No kidding. Talk about incompetent.
So the accomplice fesses up and Burke finds Erin and he takes her home and treats her like china and won't have sex with her which is AGAIN massive end of the world. Then she goes to the hospital to be there for Adelia as she foals, or whatever people described as Thoroughbreds do when they give birth. She leaves a note for Burke, who finds the note and the little slip of paper that declares that Erin is pregnant. Convinced she's gone to the hospital to get an abortion he runs to the maternity ward (do they do abortions in maternity wards?) and discovers it's just Adelia giving birth to twin ponies or whatever. He again hauls Erin home (sexy! really!) and they get in a fight about this pregnancy business and he's all yeah, maybe I did actually only marry you because I wanted you as my mistress but you didn't want that but now I totally do love you. And she drops all her plans of leaving and going back to Ireland because he finally says he loves her and will now consider putting down roots finally because he's going to be a father. Thus the second plot point that justifies how every crazy and/or estranged relationship works out in fiction (and, as it would happen, the real world): pregnancy!
The only oddity I can remember:
- Right where I started to skim the book, some previous library patron helpfully landmarked the end of this strange romance novel stint of mine by drawing what looked to be a penis across the page. Thank you, anonymous Pittsburgh library system patron! Sadly, that brightened this reading experience considerably.
Wow, that was depressing. Honestly, if you read True Betrayals, don't bother with this one because it's basically taking half of that novel and replacing it with some Irish girl who's worried she married for money.
I'm also just sticking this under the completely vague tag "other books" because I can't in good faith recommend this as it mainly depressed me and it's not related to Thoroughbred. But it wasn't so bad to be a book to avoid. Okay. I'm done here. The Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell is up next.
(Related review: Irish Thoroughbred)