REVIEW: Love and Shamrocks by Zara Keane
An Irish romantic comedy featuring an ex-thief heroine, a cop on a mission, and a dash of suspense.
Trouble in Dublin…
Clio Havelin needs a lucky break. Desperate to protect her child, Clio accepts her estranged mother’s offer of a refuge in Ballybeg. What can go wrong in a place with more cows than people? Her hope for a fresh start is smashed to smithereens when she’s blackmailed into facilitating the heist of the decade. So the last thing Clio needs is a sexy cop underfoot, especially when she’s one crime away from freedom. Too bad she’s already slept with him.
…True Love in Ballybeg.
Seán Mackey wants his life back. The former police detective is now stuck apprehending errant sheep in Ballybeg — population 3968, pubs 35. After months of frustration, he’s finally on the scent of a real case. When he’s sidelined into playing bodyguard for his nemesis, talk show hostess Helen Havelin, he’s pissed. And when his gorgeous one-night stand turns out to be Helen’s daughter, Clio, pissed turns to horrified.
Dear Ms. Keane,
I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned it before but I appreciate the inclusion of and explanation of Irish terms in your books. To me, learning them is half the fun of reading book set in non-US settings written by non-US authors. In this book we are once again in the small Irish town (hence the series name) of Ballybeg. But even though this is a small town setting, it’s not a series crammed with “characters.” It has it’s share of eccentrics but not everyone is one.
The set up includes a heroine with teenage daughter issues – serious ones – and a hero desperate to get out of small town police work due to whack-job relatives (and how frightening is it that my spell check didn’t alert on that term?) and his own dark personal past.
Despite having ties to Ballybeg, Sean and Clio don’t have a personal history but in the opening scene, they both have reasons they don’t want to be alone. Hawt sex ensues. One thing I like in this series is that the people usually act like adults with normal adult interests. These are not perfect people. They make mistakes and past mistakes can come back to haunt them. When hers show up, it’s a good thing Clio has hooked up with a garda and has a PI friend.
After a sexy beginning and lots of smoldering for a few weeks leading into a sexy dinner/night over, the chickens of Clio’s past come home to roost and bust her relationship with Sean. But when will his past issues with her mother rear up? I kept waiting for this revelation. But while Clio will get a chance to make peace with her past and move forward, poor Sean will never know the truth behind his parents’ actions. This is disappointing though more realistic than having every plot thread neatly tied off.
Clio’s daughter is not just a plot moppet – is there a different term for a teenage one? moppy? mopp? Her school issues sounded realistic as did her desire to see her father in the face of Clio’s disapproval.
There are lots of threads weaving in and out of the story – oooh, aquamaniles are gorgeous. Google images was my friend – but they all make sense. There’s an overall plan that’s been going on with each previous book leading to the next, though there’s enough subtle recap that newcomers will be up to speed in no time. I enjoyed the slight tie ins with and updates on the previous books characters without them taking over the story. After the story shifted into low gear for a bit, it sped up and took a slightly different direction than I thought. Sean’s police job leads to lots of law enforcement stuff and an action packed finale – Irish style.
I still want to see more of these characters and their – usually – charming town though it seems like a change is in the air to shift the next book out of Ballybeg. The slight slow down in pace and lack of resolution of the Traveller plot line – though perhaps this is being left for another book – brings this grade down a bit. But after the third book and second novella – though I still have one to go back and read – the series remains enjoyable, holds my interest and is moving forward. B-