Thu
Mar 17 2011 9:00am

Kiss Me, I’m Irish: St. Patrick’s Day Romance Recs

Green BeerSt. Patrick's Day is one of my favorite holidays. Not just because it's an excuse for everyone to find a pub, drink Irish coffees and Shamrock-tinis, and sing along to Young Dubliners songs very, very loudly (though that is a definite plus!). It always reminds me of when I was a kid, and my grandparents would have the biggest St. Patrick's Day party in the neighborhood. (You know the bit in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where the parents have a gigantic Greek flag on their garage door while they roast a lamb and dance around in the front yard? Like that, only with an Irish flag . . .)

My grandparents both came to the U.S. from Ireland when they were children, probably too young to remember what it was like on the Auld Sod, but they never forgot their heritage. On St. Patrick's Day there was shepherd's pie, soda bread, copious amounts of Guinness, music and fun. I would run around with my cousins and listen to thrilling stories of Irish myth (lots of blood and gore and sex!). It made me so proud to know all that was part of me as well, especially as I got older and studied more of the real history of Ireland. My parents say that is where I get my stubbornness as well as my blue eyes.

I always wanted to write an Irish romance novel, but it took me a while to find just the right characters and setting. As I started to develop the “Daughters of Erin” series, I came to the startling revelation that there just aren't that many Irish-set romances out there. Scotland, sure. There are more kilts and claymores than you can say “Och, lassie” at, and enough Regency dukes to populate a thousand ballrooms. And they're great. But I love Ireland too.

So here, IMHO, is why there should be more Irish romances:

  • The accents, of course! I am such a fool for a guy with an accent—French, Greek, Spanish, whatever. But there is nothing quite like an Irish accent coming out of a handsome guy's mouth—yum. (I watch Bend It Like Beckham over and over just to listen to Jonathan Rhys Myers talk . . .)
  • The history. I am a total history geek, there is nothing I love better than researching a historical setting for a new story, and Ireland's is such a wonderful, complex cornucopia of fascinating events. There are so many heroic figures, battles, romances, it makes it hard to settle on just one time period there. Author Kris Kennedy agrees with me: “I think the scarred history is inherently romantic, in often sad ways. But people unwilling to be subsumed is pretty dramatic, and makes for a rich store of romantic themes a storyteller can draw on. And when it comes to heroes, there's nothing more potent than a man on a mission, where the underlying motivation is something larger than himself.”
  • The landscape. I've never seen anything more heart-stoppingly beautiful than the rugged Irish countryside, the old castles and gorgeous estates, the cliffs above the sea. And Dublin is packed full of elegant Georgian buildings where there were once scores of wild parties and dramatic scenes. (Lots of excellent pubs there, too!). It's a wild sort of beauty, the perfect backdrop for passionate scenes.
  • The people. It sounds like such a cliché, but there really is a poetry in the distinct Irish character, a sharp wit and a love of art and beauty, a sense of fun and mischief, that goes along with the passion and devotion. It's perfect for a romance hero or heroine whose emotions and loves are bigger than life! Author Michelle Willingham adds: “The old adage 'A stranger is only a friend you've never met' seems to hold very true in Ireland! They have a generous spirit, and every time I visit I feel like I'm coming home again. I can't think of a better setting for writing books.”

Kris Kennedy says, “The people who come to conquer get seduced by Ireland itself, becoming Ireland . . . I think that's what Ireland does. It seduces by its very nature.”

So, go ahead. Let yourself be seduced by an Irish romance this St. Patrick's Day. You'll be very glad you did (just remember those accents!)

Here is a short list of titles to get you started:

My own books, natch: Countess of Scandal, Duchess of Sin, and (coming soon) Lady of Seduction from Grand Central Publishing (look for more Irish info and excerpts on my website, http://laurelmckee.net)

The Irish Warrior by Kris KennedyKris Kennedy, The Irish Warrior

Michelle Willingham, Surrender to an Irish Warrior

Donna Fletcher, Irish Devil

Emma Jensen, The Irish Rogue

Margaret Evans Porter, Irish Autumn

Kathleen Givens, Kilgannon

Megan McKinney, The Ground She Walks Upon (Kris Kennedy and I both discovered this was one of our very first historical romance reads! I haven't read it in ages, but I have fond memories of it).

Green beer image courtesy of Misserion via Flickr


 

Laurel McKee writes historical romance for Grand Central Publishing, writes as Amanda McCabe for Harlequin Historical, and can be found at the Risky Regencies every Tuesday, and on Twitter as @amandalaurel1 whenever she’s procrastinating.

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10 comments
Alie V
1. ophelial
Don't forget a lot of Nora Roberts' books are set in Ireland! Jewels of the Sun, Three Fates, etc.
Heather Waters (redline_)
2. redline_
Thanks for the recommendations! I can always use more Irish-set romances in my life. Yum.

@ephramyfan -- Good point! Not gonna lie, I love her Irish trilogies.
Megan Frampton
3. MFrampton
You know, until I was working on this post I didn't realize how many Scottish-set historicals are out there versus Irish. I demand more balance! More Irish eyes! Smiling!
amanda mccabe
4. amanda mccabe
LOL! And more shamrock shores. :) I stuck with historicals for my list, I know there are a few more Irish settings in contemporaries, but still there should be more. Irish men are sexy too!!!
amanda mccabe
5. amanda mccabe
BTW, if you're on Twitter, Grand Central Publishing is giving away copies of all 3 of my Irish books (including "Lady of Seduction" not out until June! I loved writing this one--Irish islands and a wounded hero, yum)--look for #4EvrStPatty
Virginia Campbell
6. VirginiaCampbell
In addition to the wonderful authors and titles already mentioned, let me add two earlier releases for your reading enjoyment:

Roberta Gellis, Morgan Llywelyn, Barbara Samuel and Susan Wiggs

Irish Magic II: Four Unforgettable Novellas of Love and Enchantment (v. 2) by Susan Wiggs, Roberta Gellis, Morgan Llywelyn and Barbara Samuel

Fantasy, folklore, faeries and more...all intertwined in romantic tales from ancient days to modern times : )
amanda mccabe
7. Janet W
http://www.thenonesuch.com/foreign.htm#Ireland ... The Good Ton website is such a magnificent resource for all things OOP Regencies and here's a link to stories set in the Emerald Isle. It would be lovely, though, if not every (well, almost every) Irish Regency didn't involve horses or grooms or both!
Wendy the Super Librarian
8. SuperWendy
I've read the Kris Kennedy and Michelle Willingham titles - and both of them landed on my personal "Best Of 2010" reading list. Pretty sure Kennedy's book was a Golden Heart winner as well? Pretty sure anyway.

For some more tasty Irish reads? Nora Roberts' Born In trilogy. I adored that series.
Mary Beth Bass
9. marybeth
Straight Up by Deirdre Martin is a fabulous contemporary Irish romance. Hot Irish American bartender hero. Awesome Irish sheep farmer heroine.

I adored Kris Kennedy's The Irish Warrior.
amanda mccabe
10. Betsy_D
P.S. I Love You (Harlequin Temptation, No 228)
by Frances Davies

ISBN-13: 9780373253289 - ISBN-10: 0373253281
Publication Date: 1988
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