Jove, $5.99, ISBN 0-515-12786-8
Contemporary Romance, 2000
Welcome to idyllic Kilbooly, a nice village in Ye Sunny Ireland, where women are launching a boycott on playing footsie and all with their marriage-shy boyfriends. Into this fray is reporter and TV personality Tara O’ Connell who persuades them to let her film them for a TV special. Tara has a bigger fish to fry – she wants a scoop on local playboy and millionaire Brian Hanrahan, who is thinking of immersing himself into the local political arena.
Since Brian is the biggest playboy in town, the local women figure that getting him shackled to the new reporter would send a loud and clear message to their reluctant boyfriends. Matchmaking ensues.
Too bad there’s little fun. Oh, there are some funny moments, I admit, but the relationship between Tara and Brian is not at all convincing, not even a microbyte of believability. For one, the whole relationship is built on lies and deception until the very end, giving them very little opportunity to actually know each other. I wouldn’t have minded the deception if both players are equal in their lying games. But Tara, in what seems like a suspiciously obvious attempt to redeem herself to the readers, starts believing the best of Brian – only the best, please – after her first love scene with the man. Oh yeah, that’s convincing, I must say! The orgasm must be so powerful that Tara’s brain shot out of her ear canals right into space or something, because from there onwards, she stops being a match for Brian. She starts being a moon-eyed puppy trailing for any scrap of Brian’s mighty lovemaking skills.
Which isn’t pretty, as Brian never did stop thinking of her as nothing more than an itch in his groin that has to be scratched to be rid off. The power play has shifted right to Brian’s side, resulting in manipulation of a clueless supposedly-“barracuda”-ish woman.
And the boycott! I know this is a small village, but I think my sensibilities are offended by the play on the stereotype that a woman can’t do anything without thinking of marriage and commitment. Worse, the women in this story don’t seem to have any life apart from wanting to get married and pleasing the men. The men, I’m told, love fishing and singing and partying at the local club. The women? Uhm… well, one woman does like washing his boyfriend’s clothes.
It is surprising how little feminine camaraderie I detect in this story. The women are together essentially to get their man, and that’s all they work together for. All they talk about seem to be about how good their boyfriend is making them feel, damn, if only those men can just buy them a wedding ring! And I have no idea why the women love their boyfriends – they are treated more like servants and offered very little in return. The men think their women are “cute”, “bonny”, etc – is that all? And what did the women feel? I am not given any clue.
And the book makes apologies for the women having to force their men to commit. Throughout the story they fret – “Oh my, what if my Bonny Lughead finds out and hates me? I feel so guilty not doing his laundry! (Sssh, don’t tell my fellow conspirators, but I am still doing my boyfriend’s cooking, because I can’t stand seeing his miserable face – sisterhood be damned, I wanna please my man!)” – and fret and fret because they aren’t being honest to their men.
Fine, please the men all they want. Then the author contradicts herself by telling me how these women demand that Tara get a female camera person to do the filming. Surely a man wouldn’t understand! So why the heck do women act like complete doormats to creatures they know wouldn’t understand them? Go figure.
Maybe I’m reading too deep into To Marry an Irish Rogue which, I’m sure, is meant to be a fun story. But I can’t help it. Brian and Tara bore me to tears, hence I start looking at the plot more critically to find anything that would keep my interest. I can’t find anything much, but what I do find make me wonder. Stand by your man? Fine, but when both man and woman are on equal footing please. Anything less is codependency and definitely unhealthy.