Jove, $5.99, ISBN 0-515-12749-3
Historical Romance, 2000
Faith, our heroine, is the disgraced daughter of Lord Terra offered for marriage to our hero Lord Eric of Shanekill. Once, Faith was assaulted, but she managed to fend off her attacker only to be called a whore. Outraged that the disgraced daughter hasn’t the grace to expire from shame, our nasty Lord Terra and his equally nasty wife (stepmother to Faith) are ecstatic when Eric propositions Faith, having mistaken her for a peasant woman (we all know peasant women have no morals and are darned promiscuous, right?), hence forcing Eric to marry Faith.
Of course, since Faith is the prettiest and meekest of the Terra daughters, Eric gets the hots for our heroine. They go to Eric’s nice warm Irish castle and do their best to argue over Faith’s honor, try to get into bed but can’t (circumstances, circumstances!), solve the mystery of Faith’s attack, restore her faith and educate her the pleasures of the flesh, and put the nasty Terra family in their place.
Actually, The Irish Devil isn’t a bad read. It’s not a good one either. For one, everyone’s a stark shade of black or white. Good guys = good, bad guys = bad and no in-between. Hence, we have Eric who is so noble and pure he puts Albert Schweitzer to shame, and Faith has a glowing halo so pristine that Florence Nightingale would be in awe of. She’s a healer, a doormat, a midwife, and she’s good with a knife. He’s a protector, guardian, nurturer, and every one of his serfs like him. Sheer unrelenting goodness with little to get in the way of their purity. How wonderful, and how boring.
Likewise, the bad guys are really bad – Wild E Coyote, Marvin the Martian, Yosemite Sam, Cruella deVil, and Elmer Fudd can take lessons from them – that they never rise above being cheap actors rented from Acme Villains-R-Us. With the bad so bad and the good so good, there remains little surprise in this story.
Bad enough that the characters’ thought processes are quite linear and quite unsophisticated, it’s worse that for a book in the Irish Eyes line, touted as “From the fiery passion of the Middle Ages… to the magical charm of Celtic legends…”, this book displays as much Celtic-ness as the Teletubbies are Irish. Apart from the castle names and locale, everything else is generic. Transplant this story to England, Wales, Scotland, or even Zambia and no one would notice a difference.