Is it possible for a poor hash-house waitress to find love with a wealthy Irish horse breeder? Not as long as he thinks she conned his father into leaving her his cottage on the island of Inish Mor in the Aran Islands. To prove his assumption false, Samantha St. John sells her new inheritance to Kieran McDade for one Euro, receives his thank-you kiss on her cheek, and bids him farewell. Never expecting to see him again, she is surprised to receive his invitation and a plane ticket to Ireland. He’s had second thoughts and offers Samantha a holiday at his home on FastTrack Farm where she charms not only his race horse, but Kieran himself. For Samantha, it is like a fairy tale, complete with a wicked witch, an elegant ball, and a horse race that could decide whether her Cinderella story will have a happy ending. Book One in the Wish Fulfilled Series, Once in a Lifetime is a contemporary romance set in Ireland.
Once in a Lifetime
Although my love of reading began with my mother’s romance novels during my teen years, I rarely pick up a romance novel now. I think my reason being that after countless dozens of them; they seemed to lose their uniqueness. Even the covers began to repeat. A strikingly beautiful woman in a stunning dress fit tightly over her incredibly tiny waist snared in the arms of a shirtless Indian, a square-jawed pirate, or a rogue cowboy.
The title, Once in a Lifetime, was a nice play on words. If you are a tried and true romance reader, you will enjoy this book.
Although the storyline is predictable, it is a pleasing read. The characters are likable, yet rather clichéd: Young, inexperienced, naïve girl thrown in the path of a virile, slightly damaged, (but deep-down noble) handsome man who unknowingly needs her to save him. Ever notice how both the hero and heroine always have either blue or green eyes?
I digress. It was a very pleasant read; although at no point did I feel it upped the game from the romance novels of the seventies. Overall, it was well written. There were a few spots where the author went into a bit too much detail on things that the reader would have known without any explanation at all. Example: Page 36 – when talking about the sale of her inheritance that has already happened, the narrative takes you through the steps of notary, legally binding, witness, no coercion, etc. It had already been stated that Cherise was a notary and the sale was done, there was no reason to itemize the steps for the reader. It’s equivalent to talking down to them as if they would not understand how the sale was completed otherwise. Another example was the explanation as to why Sam has a passport. Her relationship with Jason was brought up at another point, making that a needless info-dump. Most people have passports. No one questions why.
Fortunately, there weren’t many info dumps and they weren’t detrimental to the read.
I ran across a few senseless items, such as: Kieran sent her a ticket to fly to Ireland alone. He spots her helping an elderly woman off the plane before her and the elderly woman go their separate ways. He even thinks to himself ‘Samantha hasn’t changed a bit’ referring to her kind-hearted ways. Yet, he still feels the need to ask her if she knew the elderly woman outside of the flight? Why? Again, I felt it was one of those areas where the author felt the need to reiterate a point (Sam’s kindness) as if the reader wouldn’t ‘get it’ without her doing so.
For much of the story, the book seemed to follow one character’s thoughts at a time. But there were scenes here and there where the author fell into the omniscient POV and it felt like head hopping. Example: pages 72. We are in Sam’s head as she approaches the horse. She sees Kieran take a step toward her and then stop when Niall places a hand on his arm. Suddenly we’re in Kieran’s head as he thinks he will lunge forward to save her if need be, just as he would have done when she was buying the pencils from Benedict. Now we are in his head as he remembers that night.
Again, it is a pleasant read, especially if you are a fan of the standard romance novel. It contained all of the basic elements: Young, innocent woman… handsome man, emotionally damaged, but not without integrity… the damsel in distress, saved-by-the-hero moment (pages 112-113)… hardened heart melted by her warm touch…. And of course, the happily-ever-after.
It had a steady flow – no lags and coming in at a 233 pages it’s a book that can be read in a few hours.
Kathy Reinhart is an editor and the award-winning author of Missouri in a Suitcase, The Red Strokes, and Lily White Lies.