Magical Moments

The Irish Devil by Donna Fletcher
(Jove, $5.99, R) ISBN 0-515-12749-3
The Irish Devil has a likeable heroine and a solid romantic story line, but this romance needs more plot to sustain its over three hundred pages. Also the characters are a bit one-dimensional, a little more depth and complexity would have added greatly to the story.

The setting is Ireland, 1171; a few years before, Lady Faith was viciously attacked and she barely managed to survive. Faith carries the physical evidence of her trauma in the form of a scar that runs from the side of her face down to her breast. Although she manages to conceal her scar with her long red hair, the people in her village never let her forget her shame, and neither her father nor her stepmother (Lord and Lady Terra) has forgiven her for living.

They think it would have been better if she had died rather than live with the shame of being a woman who has lost her virtue. No one believes Faith when she says she managed to keep her attacker from raping her and Faith is deemed unfit for marriage. In the eyes of her parents, she is worthless.

So Faith is given a little cottage on the corner of the property; she spends her days working to become a better healer for her people. It's as a healer that she is summoned to care for Lord Eric of Shanekill, the Irish Devil, a man who is famed for fighting mercilessly for coin.

Eric has been given his choice of Lord Terra's daughters to marry, but he decides he wants the healer in his bed. Not knowing that Faith is Lord Terra's daughter, he asks her to lie with him.

When Lord Terra hears of this, he demands that Eric wed Faith. Lord Terra and his wife are thrilled at the thought of getting rid of Faith and their obligation to a man they consider a barbarian all in one. Eric is happy to comply since he admires Faith more than the other daughters of the house and all he requires is a well-born virgin to have his children.

Faith and Eric wed and travel back to Eric's home. Faith finds she likes her new husband but she's afraid he will send her back to her father once he discovers her scar and learns of her attack. Faith is worried that Eric won't believe she's a virgin and will want to annul the marriage immediately.

While the characters in The Irish Devil may be a little one-dimensional, they're either good or bad and there's no in between, you can't help but really admire Faith and root for her happiness. I'm torn here because the author really got me involved with the story by making Faith such a good person and by her making her parents so unkind. Then again, I truly think the ending might have been more of a surprise if the characters, especially the secondary characters, weren't so clearly good and evil.

There are an amazing amount of reasons why Faith and Eric do not to consummate their marriage right away. Actually, I liked the way the author handled this but I couldn't help thinking that if there was more of a plot, less time could have been spent keeping these two out of bed. Of course once they do get together they make up nicely for the lost time, hence the R rating.

--Judith Flavell

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