by By Deirdre Martin
Paperback: 352 pages
Available: May 4, 2010
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Book received from: Penguin
Even a man on the run can enjoy the thrill of the chase…
Hiding from New York’s Irish mob, Liam O’Brien is in Ireland working as a bartender in his parents’ old village. Hurt once by a man, Aislinn McCafferty is the local ice queen, which the unsuspecting Liam soon learns the hard way.
Accepting a wager from the pub’s owner, Liam pursues Aislinn. But neither of them expects this donnybrook of the sexes to turn into an unlikely love…
Aislinn McCafferty is known in Ballycraig as “The McCafferty.” The tough, untouchable, ready-to-cut-your-head-off woman who followed in her father’s footsteps as a sheep farmer when her parents died unexpectedly. The death of her parents was the proverbial straw, shortly after being left at the altar by a fiancé who decided to come out of the closet the day of the wedding. Aislinn is a sharp-tongued, quick-witted, down-to-earth, no nonsense kind of woman. She has closed herself off to others and doesn’t let them come close, especially men. She uses her sharp tongue and her attitude to ward them off.
Liam O’Brien is a New Yorker hiding from the Irish mob on the Irish countryside. He’s a bartender in a local pub until it’s safe for him to go back home to his family and the pub they run together. Liam is confident and can charm the pants off of any woman he meets. Even a woman who wants nothing more to do with men and just wants to run her sheep farm. He even goes as far as betting his boss at the pub that he can get past The McCafferty’s icy exterior and get her to go out with him.
Aislinn was my favorite character in this book. She was so brittle and defensive but definitely not unlikable. Hurt and loss cut her deep and left her wounded and vulnerable so her only defense mechanism was to push others away. The only person she doesn’t turn away from is Padraig, the farm hand and her parents’ best friend. Still Aislinn is a character that genuinely cared for her family and friends, even if they drove her crazy sometimes. Her relationship with her sister Nora is warm and loving despite their differences and bickering. I loved seeing Aislinn’s icy shell starting to melt down under Liam persistence and charm. However, at one point I was afraid that Aislinn was going turning too sweet and complaisant as she started to fall for Liam because the fiery banter that created the nice tension between them died down a bit. Luckily this didn’t last long and she showed Liam that though she was in love with him, she was no pushover.
Of course I knew from the start the bet was going to bite Liam in the behind at some point in the story and it would form the part of conflict situation between him and Aislinn that would need resolution. And the shoe did drop about halfway through the book. I must say Deirdre Martin wrote it out pretty well. I liked the spin she gave to both the conflict and the resolution. I melted away at the way Liam tried to woo Aislinn back but was also very happy to see that Aislinn didn’t give in easily. This definitely contributed to the strong and good characterization throughout the book.
Another thing that stood out in STRAIGHT UP was the picturesque Irish countryside setting. I loved the small subtle descriptions of the Irish landscape. They give you enough to picture yourself right there but aren’t overly intrusive to the pace of the story. I understood from the author’s dedication (yes I read all authors’ dedications and acknowledgements) and website that the author went to Ireland for research and it truly shows in the book. Instead of the compulsory descriptions I have seen in books of places unknown to the authors, STRAIGHT UP offers wonderful and (I believe) accurate descriptions of the Irish culture, countryside and Dublin.
STRAIGHT UP is a wonderful and touching, character-driven contemporary romance. The thin suspense side-plot was there in precisely the right amount as romance, interpersonal relationship between family members and friends remained the focus of the book and that’s what I loved most about it, next to the down-to-earth and straightforward characters. While there are no explicitly hot scenes, the sensuality was definitely there too and to be honest I didn’t miss the explicitness. This book holds the attention perfectly without it because of the genuine emotions and the realistic it-could-happen-to-anyone vibe.
Deirdre Martin treated me to an excellent mix of sweet romance, family dynamics, subtle humor and the complications of day-to-day life. Delivered through vivid and crisp writing, with consistent characterization and perfectly paced STRAIGHT UP is an adorable book that compels me to read the rest of the Wild Heart Saga. Though it reads perfectly as a stand alone, this is book three in the series and I look forward to the preceding stories about Liam’s brother Quinn and sister Mollie.
Liam was stretched out on the bed with his back against the headboard. He’d stripped down to his briefs, and the moonlight shining in on his bare chest made him look even sexier to her than usual, like some kind of nocturnal waiting for her to come to him so he could show her what heaven was really like.
Purchase a copy of Straight Up
Other books in the Wild Hart Saga:
- Double The Pleasure
- With a Twist
Straight Up on GoodReads
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