Razzle Dazzle

To Marry an Irish Rogue
by Lisa Hendrix
(Jove, 5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-515-12786-8
What can a group of desperate women do when the men in their village refuse marriage? In To Marry an Irish Rogue, the women conspire together to subtly boycott the men to force the issue. The result is a delightful and touching story of a contemporary Irish village filled with people I'd like to know.

Tara O'Connell is a television reporter. She has just arrived in the village of Kilbooly, Ireland, hoping to get an interview with the town's richest businessman, Brian Hanrahan. The Brian is also a much sought after bachelor. As she sits in the local pub on ladies' night, she overhears the local women commiserate with Aileen, who, after waiting seven years, has proposed to her boyfriend and been turned down. The village has not had a wedding in nearly four years and one of the reasons given by the men is that since The Brian isn't married, why should they be.

The women start planning ways to remove the comforts of the bachelors' lives without the men realizing what is happening. They even plan on getting The Brian's grandmother in on the plot so the men won't be able to use him as an excuse anymore. As they make plans, Tara is caught eavesdropping. She persuades the group to let her film some of the situations the women are planning and to film interviews with several of the women. She even agrees to show the film to the women for their approval before showing it on TV.

Brian Hanrahan comes home from Dublin on an urgent, but false, claim from his grandmother that she is ill. He spots a beautiful new face in town and tries to meet her. When he discovers that she is a reporter who knows too much about his possible plans to run for a government office, he reluctantly agrees to the interview. He believes she is looking for something in particular, but does not know what. Tara thinks that Brian's company is ruining Irish villages by causing uncontrolled growth. She plans to expose him.

Lisa Hendrix's characters are real people. Tara is smart and dedicated to her career, but when the evil she thought Brian was doing turns out not to be true, she gives a fair view of the situation. Brian starts out as too closed-mouthed about his business plans, but when a friend confronts his overlord attitude to the rest of the village, he willingly opens up. Several other men and women of the village come alive as the boycott makes them look at each other differently.

The humor is truly funny, but not cruel. While the women do get several laughs out of the situations the men end up in, they don't try to rub it in. They don't want the men to hate them, but to turn to them.

The relationships are nicely handled. Tara and Brian are attracted to each other from the beginning, despite the adversarial situation. With humor and a few sparks, they start trusting and caring for each other. When Tara's boss interferes and Brian believes Tara betrayed him, he is quick to make amends when he realizes the truth. Other relationships, from a long term one to a brand new one, to hints of another one that will start after the story is finished, are developed and woven into the tale seamlessly.

The Irish village atmosphere described in the book made me want to take off work for a month and hop on a plane for Ireland. I want to meet Aileen and Tommy, Rory and Crissy, and Finn and Siobhan. So, turn on a CD of Irish music, brew up some tea, and enjoy a visit to Kilbooly.

--B. Kathy Leitle

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