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REVIEW: Straight Up by Deirdre Martin

Straight Up by Deirdre MartinDear Ms. Martin:

I am really ambivalent about this book. On the one hand, it’s a straight contemporary in an usual setting (Ireland) featuring a very strong heroine. I should love that.   On the other hand, it features my least favorite type of hero. I came away from the story dissatisfied, wishing that Aislinn could have hooked up with someone more worthy of her.

Aislinn McCafferty grew up loving Connor McCarthy and then Connor did her wrong.   Already believing that men weren’t really worth her time (and that Connor was the exception), Connor’s betrayal made her give up men altogether.   The local men are uniformly portrayed as meatheads.

For example, Fergus Purcell, David Shiels, and Teague Daly are a threesome that Aislinn refers to as “Ballycraig’s Holy Trinity of Arseholers.   As boys, they’d made her school years hell, always teasing her about being a tomboy and for wanting to be a sheep farmer just like her dad.”

Liam, the hot Yank who is hiding out in Ireland from the Irish mob in New York, tries to practice his wiles on Aislinn who turns him down flat.   Liam tends bar at the local pub Oak.   Rebuffed and then egged on by the locals, Liam lays down a bet that he can be successful with Aislinn where all the others have failed.   Even though Liam realizes this is not a very nice thing (cruel he admits), he doesn’t call it off because his pride is more important than Aislinn.   Lovely.   Everyone does get their comeuppance, though, in a scene I particularly relished.

There was a certain episodic nature of the story. As one conflict was resolved, another would raise itself up kind of partitioning the book into three sections.   

In one of the sections, I recognized what the conflict was going to be but didn’t necessarily believe in it. I knew that the hookup between Liam and Aislinn would be impaired by their geographical differences.   Liam loved New York and Aislinn was Baillycraig.   Yet, because we spent nearly the entire book in Bailycraig, I never really was shown Liam’s strong connection to his family or New York. He had one visit from his brother, but we never saw him calling home, writing home. We were told Liam missed NY and his family but I saw little evidence of it.

Aislinn was a great character.   She was devoted with a big heart that had been bruised and broken too many times.   The family dynamics from the family created   by the locals at Oak, the rediscovered ties Aislinn was building with her sister, and the new relationship Liam had found with his extended family in Ireland form the center of the story .   These, more than the romance, were the heart, the laughter, and the tears of the story.

Much comic relief was achieved through Liam’s persistent wooing of Aislinn both when he was trying to win the bet and when he was trying to prove that his feelings went behind the bet.

There’s a lot to like in Straight Up but I admit that I never warmed up to Liam who seemed to be all charm and no substance. He brought most of his misfortune down upon his own head. I wasn’t convinced that he was a changed man in the end. Being with Aislinn was easy for him, despite leaving his New York ties behind. In the end, there was almost a too neat conclusion to all the conflicts. B-

Best regards,


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This is a mass market from Penguin (Berkley Sensation) and thus one of the Agency 5.   Penguin prices its digital books $1.00 below the mass market price, if the book is in mass market which is my long ass way of saying the book is $6.99 but not at Amazon because Amazon and Penguin are feuding.   Still.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. sami
    May 05, 2010 @ 04:23:30

    I had much the same reaction to the previous book in this series ‘With a Twist’. I love stories that revolve around bars but for some reason that book missed a little for me. I’d still be interested enough to check this one out though, because I find the author’s style a bit left of centre, which I like, and I don’t think the bet trope would bother me. Thanks for the review.

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  3. Danielle
    May 05, 2010 @ 04:42:12

    Thanks for the review — I ordered this book and should have it by the weekend!

  4. Jane
    May 05, 2010 @ 06:12:22

    @sami I read With a Twist too and honestly there is something that I’m not connecting with for these books. Like I can recognize the writing it is good but to some extent it’s almost too shallow.

  5. Mary G
    May 05, 2010 @ 07:03:51

    I enjoyed your review Jane. While I normally fall a little bit in love with the heroes the character I can’t get out of my head is Aislinn who is the most wonderful, funny, smart mouth, kickass heroine I’ve read in a long time. Even though she was at a low spot in her life she was just amazing. I wanted to high five her every time she dissed the 3 Stooges & every time she put Liam in his place.

  6. Jane
    May 05, 2010 @ 07:22:39

    @Mary G I thought Aislinn was amazing. Maybe if she had been less amazing, I would have thought Liam was a good match but in the end, I felt like she had been cheated.

  7. Mary G
    May 05, 2010 @ 07:26:20

    I can see why you feel that way.

    The one thing that did bug me (but I guess the conflict was necessary) was Liam not getting the bar owner to back him up that he tried to call off the bet. That frustrated me to no end.

  8. Jane
    May 05, 2010 @ 07:39:25

    @Mary G – right that was frustrating but Liam admits he could have called off the bet anyway, but the idea of winning was so much more important to him. In some ways, Aislinn was just like that – winning her over was so important but was it just for winning or because he really loved her.

  9. Mary G
    May 05, 2010 @ 07:42:56

    Exactly. With the beating her ego had taken shouldn’t saving her feelings have been his priority? There was plenty of conflict left to keep the story going.

  10. may
    May 05, 2010 @ 08:13:23

    This is a book I’ve been on the fence about – thanks for the great review.

  11. TKF
    May 05, 2010 @ 11:40:21

    Would love to buy it, but I can’t find it ANYWHERE that sells mobi. Ugh. It’s not in the Mobi Store or on Diesel Books or at Books on Board. WTF? Hello publishers, I'd like to give you some money!

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