"Changing a man's like walking through molasses. A lot of effort for little progress."
This is the second volume of the Irish Born trilogy and focuses on the second Concannon sister, Brianna. Brie runs a lovely and relatively successful B&B called Blackthorn Cottage. She's a homekeeper of the highest order - she loves nothing more than cooking and cleaning for her guests in her lovely home in the Irish countryside of County Clare. She wants to create a place of love and home there because it is not what she grew up with.
Whereas Maggie was fire and passion and temper, Brianna is a colder sort of collected woman. She's not cold in a cruel way, like Maeve, but rather in a level headed way. She doesn't see the point in temper or fighting and generally keeps her cool to avoid both, even when it's warranted. I think that's why I felt less connected to this particular book. I have a lot in common with Maggie - we're both stubborn, determined, fiery tempered women who will fight tooth and nail for what we want, and against what we don't. Brianna's even tempered nature is something I simply can't wrap my brain around.
Thrown into her calm and ordered life, one where she craves a family of her own that she was denied years ago by the abrupt departure of her fiance, Rory, is Grayson Thane, a successful American writer of murder mystery novels. For starters, I hate his name more than I can express. Grayson Thane? REALLY? His nickname is a color for fuck's sake. Maybe I'm nitpicking, but it bothered me. Anyway, Grayson comes to stay at Blackthorn for some undisclosed period of months to write his next novel. Naturally he falls for the beautiful and fascinating landlady, as you do if you are a character in a roman novel. However, Grayson has a past that he refuses to acknowledge, one that prevents him from believing in anything but "living in the moment." He lives a rootless existence, traveling from town to town writing and touring and never really belonging or thinking that he needs to. Hell, Grayson isn't even his real name (btw, his real name is Michael Logan, which is an AWESOME name). Of course when he falls for Brie, that all starts to change, and he doesn't know how to deal with it. The novel revolves around Brie's relationship with Gray, her relationship with her mother, and the search for the sibling neither sister realized they had.
That last point sets up the third novel. Brie discovers early on a packet of letters from a woman named Amanda to her father - love letters. Apparently Tom and Amanda had a beautiful love affair for three weeks that they couldn't pursue due to Tom's duty and devotion to his family (even though his marriage to Maeve was a loveless one). Amanda's final letter informed Tom that she was carrying his child and then there were no more letters. Brie and Maggie attempt to locate this woman and her child throughout the course of the novel, amidst Brie's romance and Maggie's new baby with her new husband, Rogan.
I enjoyed this book, though less thoroughly. Again, my deepest love came from the way the country and its people were utilized. Part of what draws Grayson in is the sense of community in this small Irish village, where comhain is a way of life. Comhain is essentially doing for others and knowing they'll do for you; having that shared sense of belonging and helping each other without being asked that really makes a community like family. I'm looking forward to seeing how the surprise sister fits in with the girls (and the inevitable romance that I foresee between her and Murphy, the guy who is "like a brother" to Brie and Maggie).