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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.


Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.


  1. Jan
    Mar 17, 2007 @ 09:49:26

    And it might just talk me into trying some Guinness or Harp someday even though beer isn’t really my thing.

    Sadly, I focus on this. You can see my priorities. I don’t do beer either, though an ice cold Corona with a lime in the summer is mighty tasty. But Guinness isn’t beer, it’s like dessert. A thick foamy malty almost chocolatey sinful dessert. You could turn a pint of Guinness upside down on a plate, remove the glass, and I swear it would sit there waiting for your fork.

    (Note to self: stop at grocers… )

  2. Jayne
    Mar 17, 2007 @ 09:54:09

    Well, you can see my ignorance just glaring off the screen. ;) Jamie (the Irishman) comments in the story that the stuff sold here (in glass bottles) is an abomination compared to what is served in Irish pubs and that American women complain that the true thing smells like athletic socks.

  3. Jan
    Mar 17, 2007 @ 10:08:51

    The stuff sold here in glass bottles is awful. Don’t buy it. There’s a kind sold in a tall can that’s not bad. But if you can get to an Irish pub where they have it on tap (“authentic” Irish pubs seem to be an epidemic around here these days, with one on every corner), a pint of the real thing is the best.

    But I wouldn’t go near one of them today if my life depended on it.

  4. Whining Kate
    Mar 18, 2007 @ 14:58:37

    MAY? the book comes out in MAY? I mean the review is timely, SPD and all, Erin Go Braugh, but MAY! [by the way I was checking the spelling on this and found this funny bit]

    I know it’s standard operating procedure, but as a reader it’s frustrating to read a review get interested in a book and then discover it’ll be months. After reading Mrs. Giggle’s column I got all hot and bothered about my copy of Beau Crusoe that I thought was in the mail, and that’s just a matter of a week or two.

    and furthermore…I love Guinness.

  5. Jayne
    Mar 19, 2007 @ 04:45:35

    Kate, I read an ARC that we got from the publisher. On the spine it says “March 07” and inside it has a page that states the publication date will be March 2007 for the trade paperback edition. I just checked Amazon and it’s available there and has a publishing date of Feb 27, 2007.

  6. Whining Kate
    Mar 19, 2007 @ 07:17:19

    Oh sweet lord, another Emily Litella moment for me? Please enough with the braindeadness.

    I’m sorry, Jayne.

    Umm. that the little accompanying tags at the bottom–the possibly related links–misled me. . .There’s something there about Books In May.

    When I go off on unreasonable rant I have to blame something other than myself, you understand. Otherwise I’d think twice about posting and we can’t have that.

  7. Cringing Kate
    Mar 19, 2007 @ 07:19:58

    groaning and weeping. . .
    May 2006.

    I need an intervention or something.

  8. Jayne
    Mar 19, 2007 @ 09:27:40

    LOL, don’t worry Kate. Those tags at the bottom can be very misleading. At first they said “Related Posts” but after Jane, Janine and I looked at some of them, we changed the statement to “Maybe Related Posts.” I think WordPress is doing the linkings automatically based on some weird logic that we’ve yet to figure out. Some of the linked posts are related but others are so totally off in left field that we can only shake our heads at them and hope you visitors to the blog don’t think we chose them while high on crack.

  9. Leslie
    Apr 20, 2007 @ 15:14:58

    Yes, ladies, I did actually visit Dublin; and Tessa’s insights and reactions are in fact my own, and not from some tourist board pamphlet.

  10. Jayne
    Apr 20, 2007 @ 18:18:20

    Now this makes me wish I was an author. That way I could go to wonderful places and tell the IRS I was doing research. ;)

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