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on July 24, 2000
Whiskey Island is the compelling story of the Donaghue sisters whose past is full of pain but whose history is about to be traced back to three men whose love for Lena Tierney irrevocably sets in motion a chain of events that lead to a terrible tragedy and a horrifying scandal.
Niccolo Andreani, a former priest, agrees to transcribe the journal kept by Father Patrick McSweeney who valiantly tended to his flock of Irish immigrants over a hundred years ago. Niccolo finds himself with more questions than answers when he comes into contact with the Donaghue sisters, the little girl under their protection, and the old man who harbors the truth to a murder that took place years ago. An old man who might be their father.
Richards has crafted a powerful story as she allows readers to become acquainted with characters from the present as well as the past. The length of this novel is appropriate because it gives the author the means of exploring the lives of the Donaghues of the present and, more importantly, the struggle endured by the Tierneys. A tragic struggle witnessed years ago by their best friend, Rowan Donaghue, and counseled by their priest, Patrick McSweeney.
The characterizations, drawn by Richards, of all these people are strong and distinctive. Her audience will be swept away by the powerful history of Whiskey Island and the intrigue of its present state. Furthermore, the author has so intricately intertwined the two to create a story whose development will have you turning pages in anticipation and feeling bittersweet, yet satisfied, with its conclusion.
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VINE VOICEon September 9, 2003
And keep you reading page after page till you find out what the great secret that the Donaghue family has been hoarding for generations. This is not only a story about three motherless sisters, Megan, Peggy and Casey, who were abandoned by their dad at an early age but it is also a story about Lena, Terry, Rowan and Father Patrick back in the late 1800s. And Richards manages to tie both stories in brillantly ~~ till the last page is done. It is a fast-paced read ~~ a wonderful story about love and relationships and secrets and truths.
Megan is the owner of Whiskey Island Saloon set in Cleveland near Lake Erie where her Irish ancestors have once worked. When her sisters come home for various reasons, Megan begins a journey of self-realization ~~ especially when there is a man involved. There is Casey who has a secret regarding the little girl she brought home from Chicago. There is Peggy, who was supposed to be in her last semester of college but decided to stay home instead. And this is their stories.
Once again Richards prove that she is an excellent story-teller. This is one fast read ~~ one that will keep me hopping till I read the sequel. She has a talent of making her characters seem as real as you and I. And the relationships between the sisters are like mine. It's a fun and captivating read ~~ especially since it has a dollop of history thrown in it. I am a native Ohioan and now my curiousity has been piqued about Cleveland's history. Only a good author can do that.
9-9-03
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on July 8, 2003
Loved the book, but this abridged version sucked out the rich textures of the story and the wonderful characters. In the full version, I loved the Donoghues and each of their stories, and I hated that the book came to an end. I cared about these people and what happened to them, and found the historical backdrop a fascinating setting. This abridgement completely skips the sisters' stories, and fails to create that same bonding with the characters or the plot, and even changed some vital elements of the story. Skip this abridged audio version and read the full text. It is a treasure, and this totally fails to do it justice.
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on June 8, 2000
A marvelous story about three strong, resourceful, but very different, Irish American sisters. "Whiskey Island", an Irish Pub located in Cleveland, is the heart of the story which stretches from the original Irish immigrants until today. There are several wonderful romances, a suspenseful murder and a keen look at family relationships. I found myself so caught up in this book that I tried to read it and cook dinner!
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on May 9, 2001
Whiskey Island was a terrific read-Lots of twists and turns of the characters you thought you were beginning to know. All the while educating you on the Irish immigrant and other topics. I dont't want to mention as I want you to be as surprise as I was. Ms. Richards is a facinating story teller. I am anxious to read another book authored by her to see if it was because of the subject matter or if she is indeed a good as I think she might be.
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on June 2, 2000
In the dark parking lot of Cleveland's Whiskey Island Saloon, two would be carjackers threaten sisters Casey and Peggy Donaghue and their charge Ashley. Former priest Niccolo Andreani is passing by when he sizes up the situation and intervenes to keep everyone from being hurt. Niccolo is grazed even as the police capture the two thugs. Casey and Peggy's older sister Megan, owner of the bar, is very thankful for Niccolo's help. However, she rejects his notion that a homeless person also assisted them.

An obsessed Niccolo cannot resist trying to find the homeless person. He wants to help the man because he is filled with guilt from his failure to assist another homeless individual who froze to death. As Niccolo and Megan become acquainted they fall in love, but neither knows how to trust. At the same time, Ashley's abusive father is closing in on the child and her protectors. The mystery of the identity of the homeless person leaves the siblings to wonder if he may be their dad.

Though filled with mystery, intrigue, and romance, WHISKEY ISLAND is a superb relationship drama that deserves a wide readership. The story line is loaded with several subplots that all tie back to the main tale. The charcaters feel genuine and their motives seem so real that Cleveland appears more alive than Drew Carey or Jacobs Field has ever painted the city. Emilie Richards shows why she is so revered and should be back in her familiar spot on the bestseller lists.

Harriet Klausner
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on June 30, 2005
"Whiskey Island" kicks off with an attempted carjacking that introduces ex-priest, Niccolo Andreani, to the three Donaghue sisters of Whiskey Island saloon in Cleveland, Ohio. Niccolo's persistent investigation of the mysterious stranger who helped ward off the carjackers brings him closer not only to the eldest sister, Megan, but also to uncovering a century old secret surrounding Irish immigrant, Lena Tierney and Father McSweeney. The novel begins slightly slow-moving the first one hundred pages or so, only because the author has to set the stage and early clues before you can dive right into the core of the mystery. Once that happens, with clue after clue, it is impossible to put the novel down.

Around the middle of the book the story regularly alternates back and forth with a couple chapters each between past and present. It's hard to say whether the present with Niccolo and Megan, or the past with Lena's struggles is more engaging because the author richly creates the setting and all the characters so well. Both times come alive with the realism of the descriptions, relationships and emotions. There are several passages where the prose is especially moving; though reproducing it here would spoil some events. But there's no shortage of surprises. Even at the end of the book when everything is supposedly resolved, the author still delivers one last revelation on the last two pages!

It would be great injustice to cram the novel to fit a single mold or genre. From the description on the back cover, the novel would be nothing more than romantic suspense with a dab of history and mystery, a description that would completely undersell the gripping, action-packed, and any other adjective to describe magnificence that "Whiskey Island" is. The relationships between Megan and Niccolo in the present, and Lena and Terence Tierney in 1880, both have equal focus in the romance of the book. Many social issues are touched on including child abuse, the homeless, mental and physical disability, morality and religion, doing what is right over societal institutions, and of course, love. What the novel expresses about love is beyond any simple romance novel, subtly centering more on honor, loyalty, and protection of people you care about. One intriguing part is watching Lena's internal struggle over protecting her husband unfold and thereby subjecting herself to the formidable James Simeon. In her confession to Father McSweeney she asks, "Is it a greater sin to commit an act you know to be wrong in order to protect those you love, or to let them perish because you are afraid for your own immortal soul?" Yes, there is plenty of drama here.

This is the first Emilie Richards book I've read and it definitely won't be my last.
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This novel is set in Cleveland, my home town, so I may have been more fascinated than others will be by this compelling tale. I also went to all Catholic schools with many Irish kids which only increased my interest level since Whiskey Island was the settling place for so many immigrant Catholic Irish. I can say, however, that Richards faithfully recreates all of this and hits no wrong notes. The novel proceeds at two levels: one part of it is set in present day Cleveland on Whiskey Island, close to downtown, and the other is set in the same place but in 1880. Both stories also involve a priest and a woman. Frankly, I do think more novels of any genre would benefit from using locales not already overused and this was certainly one of them. It gives a touch of originality to any tale when the reader can go to new places and meet new people from previously uncovered backgrounds. Having priests or former priests as major characters certainly puts this author in unique territory. This is my first book by this author and I will try another of hers.

Visit my blog with link given on my profile page here or use this phonetically given URL (livingasseniors dot blogspot dot com). Friday's entry will always be weekend entertainment recs from my 5 star Amazon reviews in film, tv, books and music. These are very heavy on buried treasures and hidden gems. My blogspot is published on Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
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The Whiskey Island Saloon is a longtime favorite watering hole in Cleveland. Run by Megan Donaghue, she is the 5th generation Irish-American to share the recipes used by her ancestor, Rosaleen Donaghue in thee 1880s.
Although Megan has been running the restaurant/saloon alone, she is soon to be joined by her prodigal sisters, Casey and Peggy, who arrive one evening and are immediately welcomed by a carjacking in the saloon parking lot, which is broken up by one Niccolo Andreani who just happens to be walking in the area. But who is the mysterious man who both Niccolo and Casey saw lurking out of darkness? A man credited with saving lives that night?
Casey returns to Whiskey Island with a young child, Ashley in tow. Not willing to talk too much about the four-year-old, why she has her, or when her mother will take her back, it is clear though that after social worker Casey is unable to prevent a tragedy at her job in Chicago, she has quit and returned to the home she left years before after an argument with her older sister, Megan.
Returning with Megan is the baby of the family, Peggy. Their mother having died shortly after Peggy was born, both Megan and Casey had helped their aunt raise her after their father's mysterious disappearance. Peggy has been working and attending medical school and her arrival home is also quite a surprise. Why is it though that she is so reluctant to return?
Niccolo, who has been slightly injured in his attempt to save the three strangers, is cared for by Megan, while Peggy and Casey help little Ashley get settled. Niccolo is immediately drawn to the capable woman who runs the saloon, and it appears that the feeling is mutual. But will Megan feel the same way when she learns Niccolo had been a priest?
Jon Kovats seems to come and go in the most mysterious ways seemingly teasing Casey who is surprised to see her childhood playmate has turned into a sexy young prosecutor. Jon has waited for years for Casey to return but he's not going to be an easy catch. Casey isn't so sure if she wants a relationship of any kind but when she sees how caring he is with young Ashley, helping get her out of her shell, her heart just melts, as with this exchange:
He lifted the doll whose dress he'd fingered and held it out to the little girl. "Would you like to play with her, Ashley? I think she gets lonely sitting on the shelf."
Ashley frowned but she broke her silence. "She has friends."
Jon nodded solemnly, "It's a well-known fact that dolls get tired of each other's company. They need people to hold them and play with them."
"Jon, that's a very valuable doll," Casey warned.
"Not half as valuable as a little girl."
But the story of the three Donaghue sisters isn't the only story Richards tells in WHISKEY ISLAND [Whiskey Island (the land mass) is actually a peninsula & can be found at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio. A distillery was built there in 1836, hence its name. The island has suffered multiple incarnations: it has been a dump, a US Coast Guard Station, a ship graveyard, & a predominantly Irish immigrant shanty town.]. She tells the story of Terry and Lena Tierney, Irish immigrants who are struggling not only to make on Whiskey Island in the 1880s but to save money to bring their families to America. When Terry is tragically injured, Lena needs to make more money than she does feeding the terriers at the docks. When offered a position in one of the finest homes in Cleveland, she believes it to be an answer to her prayers. But it seems owner James Simeon, one of the wealthiest men in the city, has more nefarious reasons for hiring the beautiful young Irish woman.
Richards tells both the stories in present day as well as the historical portion with the same finesse, each several chapters at a time. It seems just as I would get caught up in the historical story, Richards would take me back to present day and vice versa. But deeply caught up in both stories I was and it didn't take more than a paragraph or two for me to get just as involved in the next story; not an easy feat for a writer to accomplish.
Suspense, mystery, history, romance - this book has it all. The historical portion of the book is interspersed with journal entries from Father Patrick McSweeney whose parish includes Whiskey Island. How the two stories connect and how Father McSweeney becomes a truly instrumental character in the story isn't revealed until the very end (no fair peaking!) The journal entries are told as Niccolo is asked to transcribe the entries by the current parish priest. How the two stories meld together will have even the most discriminating reader glued to the page.
Not only does the book have plenty of action to keep the reader riveted, the rich characterization that Richards is famous for keeps the reader involved in even the parts of the story without so much action; the reader feeling as if they actually know Donaghue sisters and will want to visit Whiskey Island Saloon for themselves for a taste of Rosaleen's Irish Stew followed by a pint of Guinness. Fortunately, that Irish Stew recipe along with the recipe for Megan's Soda Bread can be found on Emilie Richard's web site .... Readers will also be happy to know that more of the Donaghue sisters' story will be told the next offering from the talented Ms. Richards, THE PARTING GLASS, available in hardcover this summer.
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on January 12, 2016
This was amazing. It is a story of real people. Some live honestly, some not. There are many plots going on in this story. It was hard to put down. I kept going back to it every chance I got. Some of the personal stuff is a bit too detailed for my taste, but it is well written.
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