Book Critique - Irish Thoroughbred (Irish Hearts #1)

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Stars: 4 / 5

Recommendation: A delicious romantic plot involving strong lead actors, every bit a Nora Roberts novel where one can see beginnings of what a great novelist she would become eventually. Absolute delight to read.

On March 6th Nora Roberts re-released her very first book, Irish Thoroughbred, again. This was first published in January of 1981 as part of Silhouette Romance novels by Silhouette. I have read all of her novels that she had published as Nora Roberts so far, except for two books that I hadn't gotten around to read yet (Not sure why though!). For some reason I always thought her first book was Lawless, which was incidentally almost 8 years after. In any case here is my review honoring its re-release.

The basic plot revolves around Adelia "Dee" Cunnane - who comes from Ireland to America to stay with her Uncle Padrick "Paddy" Cunnane - and Travis Grant - one of the wealthy horsebreeder in Maryland, USA. Dee come to America to stay with her Uncle Paddy after she loses her farm and last of her relative in Ireland.

She gets a job of a groom as well as responsible to train Majesty on Travis Grant's farm Royal Meadows where her Uncle Paddy also works. If that is all the plot would then where would be the fun. In comes the instant attraction that Travis feels for Dee and the confusion that Dee feels about her feelings towards Travis. Thus leads the rest of the story on how they act on their feelings and how they understand each other.

It being a romance novel obviously we see shades of it along with sexual tension between the lead characters all through. However typical to what we see in romance novels now, the explicit sexual content is not shown between Dee and Travis until after they are married. This is also typical to how romance novels were written under the Silhouette umbrella then. Another factor we see typical of Romance novels of that time is that the book is under 200 pages. 

Nora shows the distinction between the amenities Dee had while in Ireland as opposed to what she finds when she settles in America. Dee is clearly amazed at all the technology available, the roads, the buildings and the people. Dee is simply awed by a washing machine too. Which if I may say, we did not have back home in India in the 80s, they weren't introduced in India until mid-90s. Nora added this element perhaps to show how traditional and old-fashioned her Irish heritage was.

Nora does reflect her heritage in the rich language she uses for Dee and Uncle Paddy. The quip language, usage of style and grammar were some of the reasons I was drawn to Nora's books. No wonder Ireland is one of the places I want to see before I die. :P

This book also testifies to the fact why I had been drawn to Nora's books always and why I appreciate her older way of writing as opposed to what she has been writing since 2009. Her heroine is feisty, independent, intelligent and strong despite her poor and struggling background. Her hero though rich is an equal complement to the heroine. And this is what I typically see in all her books - strong female roles complementing equally strong male roles.

However strong and independent her heroine Dee is, Nora still keeps her in the typical family structure of that time where the males of the family drive the future of the females - here Travis and Paddy drive Dee's future. But later books have shifted away from this family structure though as the time passed.

Considering the success she had gotten with this book, it is no wonder that she had caused a shift in the way romance novels were written. I haven't read much of romance novels from the 60s and 70s. However, she certainly had raised a bar in that genre that eventually got her inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. Of course her writing more than 225 romance novels perhaps contributed too. :)

If you want a light romance novel with the protagonists having strong characters, this would be the perfect book to pick up. And if you have never read Nora Roberts, go read the newer print of this book. Mark my words, you will be hooked on to her books. 

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Nora has written two books as sequel to Irish Thoroughbred under the series "Irish Hearts". Her second book, Irish Rose, doesn’t come until 7 years after, published in 1988. That is not the surprising one at all. Her third and last book, Irish Rebel, in the series wouldn’t come until 12 years after the second book. It almost makes you wonder if she wanted Dee and Travis's kids to grow up in real years so she can make a plot for their daughter in the third book. I know Christine Feehan had done that with one of her characters, but she had different reasons for that, which I will elaborate in my review of that book of Feehan. I wonder what other reasons could Nora have for that large a gap.

2. Grammatical / Historical / Location / Character / Geographical Errors:

a. On Pg. 9, Nora describes Dee's hair as "rich auburn hair falling in gleaming waves to her shoulder". However the rest of the book she describes them falling as a fiery cascade down her back on Pg. 21. Did Dee have shoulder length hair or waist length hair?

b. On Pg. 77, line 18, it should be "Travis let out a…."

c. On Pg. 186, line 9, "Travis" is printed as "Travic"

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