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GUEST REVIEW: Celtic Storms by Delaney Rhodes

Dear Delaney Rhodes,

Last weekend I picked up your new book, Celtic Storms, from Amazon because it was free, and the cover, designed by the talented Kim Killion, was slick and very pretty. The setting also intrigued me since it was set in late medieval Ireland. Granted, I can be picky about Irish-set novels, as I used to attend the University of Ulster in Belfast. However, even though I wasn’t expecting Laura Kinsale, I was hoping for something at least entertainingly silly, like the cracktastic fun of Sasha Lord’s books.

Celtic Storms by DelaneyBut no. It was disappointing in just about every way. The characters were flat, the plot was incoherent, and the setting was such a ridiculous historical mishmash it called to mind the trainwreck that was Spoil of War. There were iron age roundhouses next to Italian domed palaces… not to mention an Indian rug merchant named Sanjay… and kudzu! All in 1450s Ireland!

The plot, as far as I could make out, was about some guy named Patrick from Northern Ireland (a country which didn’t exist until Partition in 1921) who is betrothed to a rich chick in an unspecified county in “the west of Ireland” named Darina O’Malley. An evil satanic witch named Odetta has cursed the O’Malley clan with the inability to bear sons, so Darina and her sisters– Dervila, Daenal, Darcy, and Dareca— are taught to fight and work on ships while wearing tunics and trousers. (Actually even Irishmen did not wear trousers or hose in this period, as can be seen in this Durer engraving.) So Patrick leaves Northern Ireland to go to the west coast to meet Darina and get married. Oh, and he finds out one of his younger brothers is actually an O’Malley.

Literally two thirds of the book goes by, and Patrick is still traveling to Darina’s home. There’s a ton of characters here— besides Odetta and her coven and attendant clerics, there’s Kyra, a warrior chick, Lucian, a druid/scribe, and most interestingly, a tortured priest named Father MacArtrey— but there’s surprisingly little that happens. Most books in a romance series also work as standalones. But Storms reads like an extended prologue for the rest of the Celtic Steel series—and it seems that there will be four upcoming books. It’s all buildup and backstory; but worse of all, there is absolutely no resolution in the end. After a lot of blather and milling about, we’re rushed through the wedding and an obligatory sex scene (which is described, incredibly enough, in flashback). Then, with a couple of chapters to go, there’s the Big Misunderstanding, and… the novel just ends in a cliffhanger. There’s no Happily Ever After, no nothing. I was left wondering— what on earth did I just read?

I got the impression that the author doesn’t read a lot of romances, since the relationship between the hero and heroine is practically non-existent. Most romances immediately introduce our romantic leads, and show the readers how their feelings for each other grow and develop— but there’s none of that here. Patrick and Darina are pretty much non-entities with minimal screen time. We are told how independent and brave Darina is: she’s even an atheist who only worships herself! But she doesn’t actually do anything. She goes looking for her pet falcon, dreams about Patrick and later gets married to him, but other than that, she is a blank slate. I can’t even go far to call her unlikable. She’s just… not really there.

The hero, Patrick, also does not make much of an impression either— he stutters, which I initially thought was really cool, because I’d never seen a hero who stuttered before. But this is dealt with in the most cursory way, as during the big love scene, Patrick communicates telepathically with Darina, so his speech impediment isn’t even an issue. And his amazing psychic powers come from out of the blue as well, to add to the whole WTF of it all. Lame.

The conflict, such as it is, comes from Odetta scheming, slutting around and sacrificing children to Gallic deities, but… even this character was banal. Here is an example of some of the ineptly written (and ungrammatical) dialogue in the book:

“Stop it!” shouted Odetta and threw her fist against the altar. “Hear me now, my brother. You do not wish to cross me. If it were not for me, you would not be Laird of Burke lands. As it stands, I have more respect from the people and more power than you ever will. Do not tempt me to replace you too,” she smiled as she gestured a glance towards Easal.

“Easal would make a fine husband and if I marry, my husband would no doubt be Laird in your absence. That is – if you should meet some unfortunate occurrence. Lest you forget what happened to our sister,” said Odetta.

“Odetta! Enough already!” shouted Cynbel. “What is it you want from me?”

“Laird O’Malley has passed and his wife as well.” stated Odetta.

“How do you know this?” asked Easal.

“I have my ways Easal. I know of all of the goings on in the O’Malley clan. What we need to concentrate on now. is how to overtake the clan and make O’Malley port a part of the Burke lands.”

“And just why would I want to do that?” asked Cynbel. “Because you are just as opportunistic as I am; because you want to expand your reach and because it will bring us great wealth. Combining what’s left of the O’Malley clan with the Burkes would make us the most significant power in all of Ireland.”

“Because – we would be unstoppable,” chimed in Easal.

“Tell me what you are thinking. What is going on in the beautiful head of yours Odetta?” asked Easal as he approached Odetta and laid a hand on either side of her cheeks.

Odetta smiled. She smiled because she knew she could make Easal do whatever she wanted; because she knew her brother didn’t stand a chance at denying her what she wanted. It hadn’t worked for her sister and it wouldn’t work for Cynbel.

Soon it would all be hers.

(Delaney Rhodes, Celtic Storms [Kindle Locations 862-865]. DR Publishing. Kindle Edition.)

If Odetta had been given more to do, and given some evil sex scenes a la an old Bertrice Small bodice-ripper, Storms might have been more entertaining, but her scenes are constantly intercut with people traveling or discussing the upcoming wedding. It doesn’t help that she’s really not very threatening. She threatens, she cackles, she shakes her booty, but she feels like a reject from a Hammer horror film.

The most interesting character by far is the conflicted priest, Father MacArtrey. He helps the sick and the poor, but is hated by the pagan O’Malleys; he is also the unwilling servant of the evil Odetta who destroyed the monastery where he formerly lived; yet he does his best to thwart her evil schemes, and is in the end thrown into a dungeon for his efforts. Even though he is the most dynamic character, we’re not supposed to like him. Instead, we’re told repeatedly how awful and interfering he is, because he’s involved with the lives of his parishioners, and he’s tried to put a stop to the “Lunar Bacchanals” on the so-called “Island of Women.” We’re also told how horrid Catholicism is, because Catholicism was brought from England to enslave the Irish. Wait, what?

Patrick’s last experience with a priest had been a bitter reminder that England’s influence on Ireland had brought with it a type of bondage unfamiliar to most. The infiltration of the Catholic Church had nearly driven out all but a few who worshiped the old gods and practiced the old ways. Even then, of the ones left who worshiped the old gods; many were terrified of being found out or being persecuted by the others.

(Delaney Rhodes, Celtic Storms [Kindle Locations 1913-1916]. DR Publishing. Kindle Edition.)

I don’t know if Ms. Rhodes is aware of this, but Ireland was Christianized quite early, in late Roman times. In fact, after the invasion of Britain by the Angles and the Saxons, missionaries from Ireland helped Christianize the pagan Saxon population. The Irish monk St. Aidan established the monastery of Lindisfarne off the coast of Northumbria, which quickly became a training center for Irish and English missionaries who went on evangelize among the Mercians, Angles and Saxons. And further north, Irish monks from Iona off the coast of Scotland played a crucial role in converting the Scots, and were in fact so wildly successful that churches were established all up and down the west coast of Scotland and England. This is not obscure history— it’s all covered in such well-known books as Thomas Cahill’s How the Irish Saved Civilization. It could be argued that England wouldn’t be the same today, if it weren’t for the colonizing and civilizing efforts of the Irish in late antiquity and the early middle ages.

But in Celtic Storms, there are no saints, scholars or poets— there’s even no reference to the famous epics and legends, like the Táin, or the Fenian Cycle, or Deirdre of the Sorrows, or anything. Ireland is instead a lawless pit of orgies and child sacrifice. No doubt the author means this book to be a love letter to the Emerald Isle, but honestly the depiction of Ireland in this story is— I’m sure unintentionally— more in line with the virulently anti-Irish propaganda coming out of England in the 1640s.

And thus we come to the most inexplicable part about this book. I’m used to many American-authored books about historical Ireland depicting a sentimental love for “the old ways” (aka druidism or Celtic polytheism) but Storms takes the cake for pure absurdity. In 1450s Ireland— a thousand years after St. Patrick— apparently almost everyone in Ireland is still a pagan, even our hero Patrick. (Yes, a pagan- the son of a “druid priestess” even– whose name is Patrick.) Everyone, and I mean everyone, swears “by the stars” or “by the gods” or “by the goddess!” Yet you also occasionally get an occasional “Jaysus” and “Mary Mother of God.” But then you have off-screen “Lunar Bacchanals” (aka orgies) in honor of the goddess Morrigan, and public sacrifices to the Gallic god Teutates (aka Toutatis from the Asterix comic). We’re told Father MacArtrey was taken in by the O’Malleys because they felt sorry for him, even though they’re not Catholic; but then they have a spare chapel for him, and he presides over “weddings and baptisms.” What? Huh? How does this make any sense?

This book might have been passable as a fantasy, but as a historical, it’s a complete failure. The O’Malleys live in a domed, palatial Italian Renaissance style castle with stained glass windows, “settee lounge chairs” and rugs imported from India— courtesy of Darina’s friend Sanjay— but the Island of Women across the bay has a village of iron age roundhouses. Odetta uses the Japanese vine kudzu— which even today does not grow in Ireland, or most anywhere in Europe— as a hangover cure. Almost eight hundred years after the great illuminated manuscript the Book of Kells was created, Lucian the druidic scribe only reads from scrolls. Most of the names are not remotely Irish: we have Victorian names like Mavis, contemporary names like Gemma, Darcy, and Payton, and World of Warcraft-type fantasy names like Naelyn, Monae and Vynae.

The mindset of the characters is also completely modern. Not only does Dallin the O’Malley chieftain scoff at the “guilt of religion,” but here’s our self-worshipping heroine Darina thinking about how she lost her virginity at a “Lunar Bacchanal”:

Tis just as well. At least my betrothed won’t see me as a prudish virgin. After all, times have changed. And the clan’s women had been celebrating the Lunar Bacchanals for years. Just what else is a woman to do? There are no men to be had around here.

(Delaney Rhodes, Celtic Storms [Kindle Locations 954-956]. DR Publishing. Kindle Edition.)

Yet for all this supposed lack of men, we are then told that the Lunar Bacchanals are some of the biggest tourist attractions around:

Tales of the O’Malley lands Lunar Bacchanal had traveled throughout all of Ireland. Many a man had come seeking admittance to the festival only to be turned away. In fact, many of the hired soldiers had arrived in O’Malley territory specifically to seek out the Festival.

But – over the years it had become more than a routine gathering for a sensual escape. Several fine matches had been made between the invited guests and women of the island. Several marriages had resulted and the clan grew bigger. Gemma had maintained the religious origins of the Festival and kept the rites as they had been handed down; much to the chagrin of Father MacArtrey.

Since the day he had become the clan’s priest, Father MacArtrey had made every plausible attempt to stop the monthly festivals. Denouncing it as “evil imbibing’s” and “the devil’s doorway” he had received little support from the local men in changing the tradition. Even Laird O’Malley was hard pressed to change the custom as he had met his beloved Anya at one such festival.

(Delaney Rhodes, Celtic Storms [Kindle Locations 985-993]. DR Publishing. Kindle Edition.)

So, if all these men are coming to town for the orgies— and marriages are often made there— why is it that the lord’s daughters haven’t been married off yet? And why is Darina’s betrothal such a shock to her? This is just one of the many inconsistencies in the story. I was also left wondering why evil Odetta was left to run amuck, taking over monasteries and later stabbing her brother the chieftain without anyone blinking an eye: but that’s life in a heathen backwater, I guess.

In addition to the unpromising plot, the book was so badly edited that I found it hard to read. What’s even more surprising (and dismaying) is that it seems Ms. Rhodes actually did hire an editor to edit her book— an “A. O’Connell”— but there’s no signs in this story that an editor worked on it at all. Not only are there are many misspellings— lightning is often spelled “lightening” and the character name Dervila is also spelled “Dervilla,” to name a few—but multiple lines of dialogue are grouped in one paragraph, and apostrophes, commas and quotation marks are abused on almost every page. The writing is pretty confusing too. Not only are there constant POV shifts, with information constantly repeated over and over, but the pacing is some of the worst I have ever seen. A silly, badly researched story can be made enjoyable if there’s lots of sex and action, but there wasn’t even that. (As I mentioned earlier, the one and only sex scene happened at the end of the book, in a flashback.) There wasn’t even any kind of ending, which is so lazy as to be unforgivable.

This book, unfortunately, in many ways exemplifies the worst excesses of self-published books; I have read many bad books from various publishers, but none (it seems to me) quite up to this level of incompetence. On the other hand, there are many talented, experienced authors self-publishing great stories. Two other self-published books I read recently were Jackie Barbosa’s The Lesson Plan and Christine Pope’s Heart of Gold, and both of them were excellent. They were smart, romantic, and satisfying reads with polished, tightly edited prose. Self-publishing, I strongly believe, is a viable way of publishing: it’s a way of getting fresh, different stories out there. But the author can’t just stop at providing a professional cover for her book—she needs to make sure her story is also up to professional standards. I’m just happy that I got my copy of Celtic Storms for free—I can’t imagine how I’d feel if I’d actually paid for it.

In the end, I think self-publishing is a great outlet for professional authors with proven track records. But if you’re a new author with the bad luck to have hired an incompetent editor— as Ms. Rhodes seems to be— I wouldn’t recommend it.

I wish I could have enjoyed Celtic Storms, but I couldn’t. It is confusing, unsatisfying, ineptly written, poorly researched, and it has one of the worst endings I’ve ever seen in a romance. For all these reasons, I give it an F.

~ Joanne Renaud

Guest Reviewer

43 Comments

  1. DS
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 14:34:13

    All I could think was if Kudzu had been introduced into Ireland in the 15th century Ireland would probably be covered in it now. Which, by the way, might make an interesting dystropian event in a story.

  2. Joanne Renaud
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 14:47:15

    @DS– it would be. Did you know that it’s actually illegal to bring kudzu seeds into the UK?

  3. library addict
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 14:51:08

    I do have to say the cover is really pretty. It’s a shame the actual book is so messed up.

  4. Ridley
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 14:54:39

    World of Warcraft-type fantasy names like Naelyn, Monae and Vynae

    Pretty sure we have one of each of those in my guild.

  5. Isobel Carr
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 15:07:00

    *shakes head* Research really isn’t that hard, and readers should be able to count on an author getting the BASICS right. And what’s up with the Irish Laird? I know that’s a tiny detail to pick on when there are so many major problems, but Laird? Really?

  6. Jane A
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 15:17:27

    Thanks for the review! Now I can delete this freebie off my ebook reader and save myself some valuable time.

  7. Dani Alexander
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 15:48:44

    =( I used to be so proud I self-published.

    You know, I have this feeling that some self-publishers are just putting stories out there and not really liking their own stories. I read my book at least 30 times and had it edited, and yes, there were still mistakes, but they were minor. If you write a story that you love, I would think one would be excited to read it again – even when just doing so in order to check for errors.

    I get that editors miss errors, but so many? I know that the few mistakes left in my book were because I had cut out and added sentences after it was edited; so it was not the fault of my editor. Was it possible that was what happened with this story?

  8. DM
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 15:50:00

    @Isobel Carr

    My curiosity about the author got the better of me. I checked out her bio on her website and was struck by this:

    “Ms. Rhodes has been previously employed in executive positions within Fortune 500 oil and gas, information technology, and lumber products companies in corporate legal departments. She is a member of the Writer’s Guild of America, West with several registered works.”

    You don’t become a member of the WGA by registering scripts with them. Script registration is a service they provide to all writers–members and non-members alike. To become a member of the Guild you have to work a minimum number of weeks on a signatory project or sell a certain number of scripts. You can look up members on the Guild’s website. Unless Ms. Rhodes uses another name for screenwriting, she is not a member of the Guild.

  9. Joanne Renaud
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 16:06:09

    @Dani Alexander: Dani, don’t feel ashamed that you self-publish! I strongly feel that self-publishing is a viable outlet for writers. It is, after all, quite a feat to put a good book together. I just think that self-publishing is going through some growing pains right now. And I also think it is possible that some authors just starting out don’t know there are some great professional editors out there who will work with you to make your m/s the best you can make it.

    RE: the editing, all kinds of mistakes were present on every page. There were missing commas, misplaced apostrophes, and, in dialogue tags, question marks and periods were often located outside ending quotation marks. I think it’s pretty clear that whoever edited this story didn’t know what he or she was doing.

  10. DianeN
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 16:52:44

    Imagine me gesturing a glance heavenward as I wonder at the sheer chutzpah involved in the creation of a book like this. Honestly, do these writers think we’re so easily taken in by a pretty cover that we won’t even notice “minor” errors like getting pretty much everything about Irish history, religion, geography, botany and naming customs wrong? Or, hey, maybe there’s another Ireland we just don’t know about. Yeah, that’s gotta be it. The writer isn’t ignorant–WE are!! And it goes without saying that we’re also mean girls for daring to comment negatively about this “WGA member’s” magnum opus.

  11. DS
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 17:00:34

    @Joanne Renaud: I didn’t know that. but I think it wise. My father spent nearly forty summers trying to kill a patch that sprang from a plant my grandmother brought back from Georgia in the 50′s. It’s amazing stuff. Can’t grub it up and it thinks most herbicides are fertilizer.

    There’s a web site with pictures of houses, trees and road signs covered with kudzu: http://www.jjanthony.com/kudzu/

  12. Joanne Renaud
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 17:20:15

    @DS: Yeah, kudzu is pretty awful, and since I’ve moved to Georgia. I’ve heard a lot about it. Which is why I was amazed to see kudzu mentioned in a book set in medieval Ireland. I never heard kudzu mentioned once during my entire stay in Belfast.

  13. Jenny Lyn
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 17:33:54

    As someone who hails from the deep south, when I read DS’s comment I laughed out loud! Kudzu – the vine that swallowed the south.

    Tis sad the best part of this book seems to be the cover. :)

  14. Daisy
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 17:50:18

    I’m a fellow UU graduate, and I’m simultaneously facepalming at the sheer scope of the fail here and wondering if there are any romances set in Northern Ireland that aren’t all about the tedious across-the-barricades trope.

  15. DM
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 19:20:25

    @Joanne R and Dani A

    I think self publishing is exciting now in the same way that independent film was exciting in the 90s. The modes of production have been democratized by technology, so creators outside the established monopolies can put their work in front of the public. But with self-publishing, there isn’t a mechanism similar to the film festival to weed out the dross, and celebrate excellent work. And anyone hoping to find a gem based on Amazon rank or reviews will be sorely disappointed, because it isn’t the cream that rises to the top in that system. Readers who are trying to find good self-published works are forced to act as agent and editor, evaluating the blurb and bio the same way those gatekeepers evaluate queries. I often look for professional credentials that indicate the author has some training or professional experience as a writer. Seeing this author’s unsubstantiated claim that they are a WGA member now makes me wonder if other self-pubbed authors inflate their bios. In this case I only spotted it because I have knowledge of the organization and the author’s reference to “registered works” seemed off to me.

  16. Steffi
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 01:10:45

    I am a bit of a history buff, particularly British (including Irish) history, and that blatant ignorance of historical facts–like the Irish being christianised way before the Angles, Saxons etc–is just…ugh. I don’t expect all the facts to be right in a novel, but people, seriously, do your research. At least so that the reader can tell you made an effort.

    Also, on a veeeeery nitpicky side, I’m pretty sure that’s not even an Irish castle on the cover but in fact Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland, which was, among other things, used for the Highlander movies.

  17. Jody W.
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 09:03:03

    If kudzu and bamboo got married and had babies…

  18. MaryK
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 09:53:20

    There’s an old Dr. Who episode about a plant that takes over a house. Seriously creeped me out when I was a kid. Maybe the writers were inspired by kudzu.

  19. Lou
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 10:05:06

    Why would an author write a book steeped in historical facts, and not do any research and manage to get so many things wrong. It’s baffling.

  20. R. Cominsky
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 11:06:01

    I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the book and gave it 4 stars – only because the editor seemed to have flubbed up pretty good on some spelling and grammatical items. It was a fantasy/suspense/paranormal/historical romance FICTION mingling that I thought was brought off pretty well. Also – I have to disagree with several of the “nits” pointed out here about “research” because I did some very cursory google and yahoo searches and found that the author was in fact correct.. (kudzu was available, there were major merchant centers and shipping ports that brought in goods from all over the world). I guess my point here is that this was not a history book but a work of fiction…..To each his own…

  21. Caillin Rua
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 11:18:32

    Kudzu? Northern Ireland? Sanjay? WTF?

    Does anyone else feel like Irish accents and dialect must be really hard to get right in books? They always seem to come out reading sort of like the Lucky Charms guy and take me right out of the story.

  22. Janine
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 12:40:27

    Great review, Joanne! That’s all I wanted to say.

  23. SonomaLass
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 12:50:06

    Looks like my comment got eaten, so I’ll try again; apologies if repetitive versions show up!
    @Caillin Rua: Any dialect is hard to write properly. That’s because the sound of a dialect is more than just substituting one sound for another; it has to do with the way speakers hold their mouths, use pitch, and a host of other technical factors. Writing “tay” for “tea” and “laird” for “lord” can’t begin to capture the subtler sounds, let alone the lilt and musicality, of the dialect as spoken. The closest one can get is using the International Phonetic Alphabet, which is what specialists use, but imagine how intrusive that would be in fiction! This is why I prefer books to tell me that a character sounds Irish (or Scottish, French, Southern, whatever) but then just spells the words correctly and lets me imagine the sounds.

    I know that many self-publishing authors are working very hard to make sure that their books are edited and proofread well. I think when we read one, we should spread the word.

  24. KMont
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 13:11:18

    That is indeed Eilean Donan Castle. I was just looking up castle stock imagery yesterday and today and almost bought one of it. I suspect its beautiful setting had something to do with getting on the cover.

  25. Linda Hilton
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 14:09:08

    @KMont: Dunguaire would ha served the same purpose and at least it’s Irish.

  26. DM
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 15:34:03

    @ R. Cominsky

    Northern Ireland in the 15th century a nit? Try: gross cultural insensitivity.

  27. Laura
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 15:43:03

    Oh, the ignorance!

    Also, I’ve developed a knee jerk reaction to The Catholic Church is Evil. I’m not Catholic, but even I know that vilifying an entire religion is silly. Additionally, no matter how touchy feely neopagans are (and they can do whatever they want), it’s not like what the British Isles had going on before Catholicism was all hearts and flowers.

  28. Ruthie
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 16:00:49

    @DM: True, absolutely. Though it occurs to me that this may simply be a (lack of) copyediting error. “Northern Ireland” did not exist, but “northern Ireland” did. Some folks don’t actually know what a big difference one capital letter makes.

  29. Joanne Renaud
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 17:06:15

    @Ruthie: Possibly, but there was no mention of actual regions like Ulster or Connacht, or even any counties, which was just odd. I got the impression that the author was unfamiliar with Irish geography.

  30. Laura
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 17:23:10

    @Joanne Renaud: Which brings up an important point: If you have no interest in history or facts and your story idea lends itself to fantasy (as this one, as I understand it, does), perhaps you would be better served to create a world instead of appropriating and misusing a real country. Of course, whether or not this author could build a world effectively is debatable.

  31. Joanne Renaud
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 18:26:18

    @SonomaLass: I completely agree about the dialect. The dialect in this book was also very poorly handled, but I didn’t get into it because there was already so much to discuss.

  32. DM
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 18:38:45

    @Ruthie

    You’re right–it could be a copyediting error–but it is difficult to give this author the benefit of the doubt when she claims membership in a union that doesn’t have her on its rolls.

  33. Joanne Renaud
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 18:46:37

    @Laura: For the first quarter of the book or so, I really wondered if the story would work better in a fantasy setting. But then it took so very long for the hero and the heroine to actually meet– they didn’t actually meet in person until over halfway through the story– not to mention the lack of any meaningful climax, HEA or resolution. When I was done, I had to conclude that Celtic Storms just didn’t work as a romance, period.

  34. Ruthie
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 19:05:05

    @Joanne Renaud: Which begs so many questions, the mind just boggles.

  35. Anna Cowan
    Feb 18, 2012 @ 03:18:22

    @ Joanne – the first stuttering hero to come to mind is always Simon from Julia Quinn’s The Duke and I. Almost as good as a dyslexic hero :-) (okay, out of context that sounds really bad)

  36. Suzanne
    Feb 18, 2012 @ 07:58:21

    Um, you know, research is NOT a dirty word. Sounds like the author kind of blew by it in regards to Ireland, the time frame, and romance novels. I see the book was self-published, which confirms that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

  37. Sarah Tanner
    Feb 18, 2012 @ 12:22:12

    Even changing Northern Ireland to northern Ireland wouldn’t work. The English referred to the island of Ireland as the Lordship of Ireland during this period (Kingdom of Ireland as of 1542), but the Irish themselves still thought in terms of the provinces (Ulster being the one in the North), and within the provinces, the counties. English monarchs didn’t establish dominance over the country as a whole until the 17th Century. It just doesn’t make sense for two native Irish characters to refer to Northern/northern Ireland during this period and make no reference to the provinces or counties in which they lived. Pagan sacrifices would have been as bizarre in 1450s Ireland as they would be today.

    I avoid romances set in Ireland unless I know the author is Irish, lived there, or studied Irish history. I read a couple of Medievals set in Ireland when I first started reading romance back in the 1990s. The obvious lack of research felt disrespectful. The Brehon Laws were totally disregarded. I could roll my eyes at the ridiculous names, but basic errors about important historical events and the structure of society made me stop reading. I don’t expect any historical romance to be 100% accurate. No one wants to read a sex scene featuring a hero with poor personal hygiene, for example. But mistakes which could be avoided by consulting an encyclopedia are too much to bear.

  38. coribo25
    Feb 18, 2012 @ 13:39:55

    The speech tag abuse alone would put me off reading.

  39. Deb Kinnard
    Feb 18, 2012 @ 16:27:30

    Sounds a bit like Diana Palmer’s atrocious THE BRITON, in which there were still wagonloads of pagans (wait a minute — does that then make it a Pagan Wagon?) running around in 11th century England, and you got into the Irish Sea by sailing eastward from the Northumbrian coast.

    And @ DM: I’m grateful that DA vets some self-published books. I wish there were time and attention to review and comment on more of them, particularly in my chosen genre of romance.

    If you want GOOD medieval stuff, though, try the (currently non-self-published) works of Blythe Gifford, Siri Mitchell (some Renaissance), and Melanie Dickerson’s YA titles. My take & my recommendations.

  40. Marumae
    Feb 18, 2012 @ 16:29:07

    Sorta sounds like the only research was a skim of the Wikipage, without even fully reading it. Some of this stuff could have been easily found or known. It’s not like one has to do dissertation level research, just a few pages of quick important notes and the rest could be faked without anyone knowing the wiser.

  41. Maili
    Feb 19, 2012 @ 13:22:52

    @SonomaLass:

    Any dialect is hard to write properly. That’s because the sound of a dialect is more than just substituting one sound for another; it has to do with the way speakers hold their mouths, use pitch, and a host of other technical factors.

    For me, syntax and vocabulary are the most helpful clues to where a speaker may be from, or a type of background the speaker may raised in. In Britain, at least.

    Off my head:
    a. I have to go.
    b. I’ve got to go.
    c. Begone, you! says I to self. (My personal favourite. It was very much a Suffolk thing. Largely forgotten now, though. Shame, really.)
    d. I’ll deem you gradely if you permit me to leave now.
    e. My feet will turn nest if I don’t dash. (Answers on a postcard, please, because I still don’t get this. Most who used this were from Staffordshire.)
    f. I’d better go.
    g. Bang I go.
    h. Her indoors might yarp at me if I don’t hurry home now.
    i. It’s time for me to leave.
    j. I’d better bush to bustle.
    k. Excuse me.
    l. Cheers for now.
    m. Mind me none if I leave now, eh?
    n. Gotta go.
    o. I’d better lick my soles. (This is awesome. It gives a vivid image of a runner wetting his feet before a run.)
    p. That’s me off now.

    I prefer that sort. I mean, it’d help authors who want to use a Scottish dialect without everyone hating on them for going down that crappiest route a.k.a. “Och, aye! Yer my sweet bonnie, dinnae ye ken?” :D

  42. Jane Davitt
    Feb 19, 2012 @ 21:35:47

    @Maili:
    I love that list, Maili. I’m from Staffordshire (born in the Potteries) and I’ve never heard ‘My feet will turn nest if I don’t dash’. I’m intrigued :-) ‘I’d best be going whoam’ though…that instantly came into my head.

    I shared a room at uni with someone who lived 40 miles from me in Wallsall. It took us a month to understand each others dialects….and I still use words my husband has never heard of, though he was born about sixty miles away from me.

  43. Elaine
    Mar 09, 2012 @ 05:37:17

    After reading all the above find I agree with some of it. Don’t have the historical knowledge, so was not unduly upset by any lack thereof. Was only looking for a nice story to get lost with for a few days and have finished it in under 24 hours.

    My first disappointment was having in hand what looked like a substantial book and finding it contained a smaller amount of print due to the very wide line spacing. My version was pale, too, so a bit difficult to read.

    Finished reading the book this morning and find I’m still a bit stunned at the lack of “closure” to the story. It worked through a very long beginning or giving of base data, has just started with the story to put that data to use, but has yet to go anywhere……. and then it just ended……..

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