Book review: Island Love by Eva Birrane

4/5 stars.

I felt like I needed a palate cleanser after the third instalment of The Seven Sisters saga. I was still too full of Star and Flora’s stories to dive right into CeCe’s world. And I’m also conscious that after finishing book 4 I’ll have to wait for about a year for the next one, and that’s going to be a bummer (I’ve since decided to wait with book 4 until Christmas so I know I have something to look forward to reading during the holidays).

Anyway, Island Love was just the ticket. As I’ve previously mentioned I’m not big on romance, but I thought I’d have to make an exception for this one, as not only is it listed a romantic comedy (and it was indeed quite funny), it’s set somewhere very special to me: The Aran Islands. Admittedly it’s set on Inisheer – the one island I have yet to visit, but the area, people, climate etc., are all familiar to me. It is a place I have come to love dearly. It’s beautiful, it’s quiet, the people are very friendly (as I generally find Irish people to be), and you have a sea view pretty much wherever you are. What could be better? To me, not much.

Though while our protagonist Orla does find charm in her surroundings, she also laments her auntie-imposed exile from Dublin and big city life. Orla has been through a traumatic experience of loss, and a bad break-up, and has temporarily moved in with her aunt Imelda on Inisheer.

It does have the typical bothersome hallmarks of a romance novel:

  • Main character who is supposedly plain and can not possibly be interesting to the ridiculously handsome counterpart in the story;
  • Main character who is rendered speechless by the physical beauty of said counterpart, and copious descriptions of said counterparts positive physical attributes (something about nipples looking like toppings on a delicious cake or along those lines.. Yikes!);
  • A love story that moves way too fast;
  • A bit of a flimsy story overall

Yet I still give it four stars. Because it also has a lot of charm and humour and is just plain fun to read. And it’s quite well written (cake topping nipples notwithstanding). Although I definitely feel like the story could have been more fleshed out, there is a definite narrative thread here that’s both interesting and coherent. It has heart, and I find myself rooting not only for Orla and Sean, but Imelda and Maggie and Joe – all the weird and wonderful island characters. And with a dose of Irish wit and a meddling auntie, you’ve got yourself a winner.

This book was more or less exactly what I’d hoped it would be, and it’s really more of a novella than a novel so you can easily read it in a couple of hours. Recommended for fans of Ireland, islands, romantic comedies and blood sports (that last one kind of threw you, huh? All I can say is read the book).

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