REVIEW:  Herself by Leslie Carroll

REVIEW: Herself by Leslie Carroll

Dear Ms Carroll,

I love big fluffy bathrobes and Irish music. I’m usually willing to give Chick Lit books a chance but I’m also begining to want something a little different from them besides the usual English heroine with a crappy job trying to find love from a reluctant man. “Herself” turns a few of those Chick Lit standard plotlines on their head.

From the Publisher
Forty is fabulous for Tessa Craig. Heck, she has it all – a glamorous job as a political speechwriter, a Manhattan duplex, and a handsome boyfriend, Congressman David Weyburn, whose integrity, charisma, and good looks have made him his party’s rising star. But her fabulosity fizzles when scandal strikes, and Tessa watches helplessly as her seemingly happy love life and successful career collapse like a house of cards.

Tessa realizes it’s time to embark on a new journey, one she should have made a long time ago. It’s a trip that takes her to the Emerald Isle and back, leading her heart in unimagined directions. She makes new friends, unexpectedly adopts a new family (or do they adopt her?), and discovers unanticipated love with silver-tongued, green-eyed, aspiring pub owner, Jamie Doyle. And, most importantly, Tessa makes that uphill climb over the rainbow to find the ultimate pot of gold: Herself.

I felt the book starts out a little slowly as we learn about Tessa’s life in the background of her famous boyfriend, David. And while his political passions are heartfelt, I felt his speeches were needlessly long. I really didn’t need to read his entire Port speech nor have a complete run down in it. Paraphrasing would have done nicely. Ditto the later speeches in the story. Give me the highlights and how the campaiging was received and I’m good.

Tessa’s friend Venus is a hoot. Though I was surprised that Bob Dobson’s advisors didn’t try and tarnish Tessa for associating with her. The fallout from the publication of Tessa’s journal seemed a little too light for some of the things that Tessa had written in it. But then the sad state of affairs today following the public airing of any politician’s faux pas appears to be spin it, grab for sympathy and keep going.

Did you travel to Ireland to do research? Because the opening scenes of Tessa there read a little bit like a Dublin chamber of commerce pamphlet. Once she gets out and about, the tone changes to charming. I did enjoy reading about so many famous sites and events in Irish history, especially as some weren’t so well known to me.

As to the romances, Tessa let David pretty much run their relationship then lets Jamie do a similar thing. She lets him move into her brownstone, live there for months then says nothing when his mother and sister arrive from Ireland to try and talk some sense into him then move in too. For a while I was wondering does she really fall in love with him or just get used to him? By the end I was believing more in their HEA but for a while it was touch and go.

So what else did I enjoy? I liked the humor of the book. Tessa has a dry wit which will suddenly strike out of nowhere. Her comments on the wretched excess of her cousin’s son’s and daughter’s bar and bat mitzvahs was hilarious as well as Maureen’s cleaning frenzy in the brownstone. I also liked how you show the Irish characters’ speech patterns and cadences rather than just attempting to show pronunciation. I also got a great sense of place during the scenes set in NYC. It’s obvious you know what you’re talking about in them. I loved the fact that Jamie doesn’t have nor does he want a high powered, corporate job. He knows what he wants in both his love and work lives and he goes for it. There’s something to be said for a man who’s comfortable in his skin and happy with his life.

19146326711.jpgWhile “Herself” didn’t blow me away, it made me smile and laugh. It makes me wish for more politicians with fire to do right instead of just compromising to get elected. And it might just talk me into trying some Guinness or Harp someday even though beer isn’t really my thing.