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In Love and War Paperback – January 6, 2011
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About the Author
Suzanne Barrett combines her love for writing with her love for creating artisan jewelry. A former facility engineer and Kensington author, Suzanne believes in sharing stories of romance and adventure spiced with a bit of mystery and intrigue. Favorite settings are England, Ireland and her own Northern California. Married, with grown children, Suzanne and her husband live in the Santa Cruz Mountains where they share their acreage with an elderly cat, several chickens and an assortment of wildlife that includes a trio of wild turkeys. Suzanne is an avid gardener with a penchant for digging in the dirt. She loves to cook and read, and she’s a certified water fitness instructor and teaches at area swimming pools and gyms. When she’s not devouring British mysteries, most evenings find Suzanne at her computer or jewelry bench, a cup of Earl Grey within easy reach, a sleeping cat at her feet, doing what she loves best—creating stories of warmth and passion and designing pendants, earrings and bracelets. Her motto is "Don't wait for something; make it happen." Visit Suzanne's web sites at: www.suzannebarrett.com and www.bellerustique.com
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Top customer reviews
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My only complaint is that the book was too political for my tastes. Because it's set in the early 90s when the IRA was very active, the author spent a lot of time discussing the civil war that was raging in Ireland. Yes, parts of it were essential to the story, but often times it felt like I was reading a poly-sci or history book rather than a romance novel. It was if the author was trying to get in all the information she learned while researching.
So to recap, it's a good book, well-written and well-rounded. But for someone like me, who doesn't really like politics, it's probably not the best choice of reading material.
Former television war correspondent, Quinn Lawlor carries the physical, mental, and emotional scars inflicted by a lifetime of watching his fellow man sacrifice all in the name of nationalism. While covering the civil war in Bosnia, Quinn finds himself caught in the crossfire with disastrous results. Embittered by the loss of his television career, Quinn retreats to Ireland, determined to write a novel that will expose the dark side of fanatical patriotism.
There were several things I enjoyed about this book. Ms. Barrett's prose is beautifully descriptive. In the opening scenes at the farm, Meaghann's overwhelming exhaustion is palpable and Quinn's bitterness practically oozes from his pores.
This novel is a classic romance, but the setting is what sets this story apart from so many others.
Meaghann's reluctance to act on her physical attraction to Quinn is more than a matter of our heroine playing coy or shielding her heart. An inherently practical woman, Meaghann is keenly aware of the impact an affair would have on her life in a tiny village where social life revolves around the pub and the church. She knows all too well that what's whispered in the pub will surely make it to the pulpit.
Quinn's experiences have blinded him to the nuances that shade every aspect of life in Ireland. His stubborn refusal to see the shades of gray nearly costs him everything.
Ms. Barrett skillfully navigates the tangled web of Irish Republicanism, the questionable tactics employed by the Provisional IRA, and the mixture of pride, fear, and ambivalence her characters wrestle.
In Love and War takes place in a country where legend is based in reality, and reality is often romanticized in prose, poetry, and song. I am an Irish-American woman who was raised on stirring songs of rebellion. In Love and War made me set aside my own romantic ideas and reexamine those shades of gray we so often overlook.
Meaghann is a solitary woman struggling to maintain a dairy farm in rural Ireland. She is nearing 40 but has not married as her fiancé had been killed 12 years earlier in an IRA related incident. Meaghann's younger brother, Declan, wants nothing to do with the family business.
Meaghann is a "good" catholic girl in a community that stresses older time values and morals. She helps at the church setting up flowers and pressing altar linens. Her Aunt is encouraging her to marry a local widower but Meaghann is not attracted to him. She would rather make it on her own even if she has a sense of loneliness.
Meaghann's Uncle has arranged for her to take on a border in the old keep on her property. Having a male border may create some moral concerns but Meaghann is determined to have the border who will bring in extra money and hopefully add an extra pair of hands to the work load. When Quinn arrives she is annoyed to discover that not only is he recovering from injuries, but he is rude and difficult.
Quinn is very bitter from all of the war he has seen as a television correspondent. Because of his injuries he no longer has that job and all he wants is to be left alone to write his book. Although he is sullen and withdrawn, Meaghann is physically attracted to Quinn. Bit by bit the two move from confrontation and contention to conciliation and consolation. Although the attraction is strong and the love affair begins to grow, they both have fears and reservations that keep them from really committing to the relationship.
Declan begins to bring around some politically inclined friends that cause concern for Meaghann. Quinn is furious when he begins to suspect that Meaghann is somehow involved in the Irish rebellion. As if that strife is not enough, Quinn is called back home unexpectedly and Meaghann is forced to face the likelihood that he might never return.
I really enjoyed the description of day to day living on the dairy farm. (I was blessed to visit a cheese/dairy farm in Gouda, Holland and this book brought back wonderful memories of that visit.) The characters are full and complex and the interaction between Meaghann and Quinn is rich with emotion. I liked how their relationship developed and grew. The story moved along very well and the author presented some interesting insights for thought on the political issues and tangles of Irish Republicanism and stubborn Irish pride. I definitely recommend this story for its deep romance and rich warmth. I look forward to reading another book by Ms. Barrett, Late Havest, very soon.