Synopsis: Roderica Delamore has the ability to hear the thoughts of others and she knows this “gift” is more of a curse. Resigned to living without love and a family of her own, she finally meets a man whose mind is closed to her. Faelan Savigar, the “Devil Earl” of Ireland, is haunted by rumor and a mysterious past that would warn any young lady away. Yet Faelan has reasons of his own for needing Roddy as much as Roddy thinks she needs him.
Author: Laura Kinsale spent six years as a geologist before switching to becoming a romance writer. She has had numerous nominations for Best Book of the Year award given by the Romance Writers of America, and has won. She now divides her time between Sante Fe, New Mexico, and Texas with her husband.
Cover: The image is unobtrusive countryside with an elegant manor partially obscured by a blackish smudge I wasn’t sure was a flaw or an indication of fire. A lovely scenic depiction, but its muted tones aren’t likely to really catch anyone’s eye. It does however have a variety of other coverart since the book was originally published some years ago, and my preference is for the 2010 edition.
Setting: While the novel starts in England —New Market, Yorkshire, and London— the main characters go to Ireland and experience the Irish Uprising of 1798.
Plot: For all that this is a historical novel you can barely tell as the story is character driven, about the relationships between the two main characters and how they overcome obstacles both together and apart. Little tells such as no phones or cars are barely noticeable as you get completely lost in rural Ireland.
Romance: Roddy and Faelan know so little of each other yet they seemingly love each other. I cannot quite figure out if they essentially fell the day they met, or if the affection grew over time despite all their communication issues and outside influences. All that happens with regards to their relationship is so fantastical it boggles the mind, yet somehow works in this fictional world.
Character: Senach is a blond old man who sees more than he possibly could. You can’t figure out if he’s gifted or magical himself and right up until the end I cannot definitively say which it is. Throughout the novel this character makes the reader as uneasy as Roddy is when in his presence, but you hope for his goodness even in your uncertainty.
Ponderings: Roddy finally finds someone whose mind she cannot read, but why? I cannot decide if she subconsciously refuses so that she can take a chance on marriage, if Faelan has built walls in his mind to keep out those with a similar gift as he grew up knowing another, or if something else entirely is the cause of the block. For all I know, it could be a combination of all three as this question is not answered in any obvious way.
Unfulfilled Promise: As you may have noticed, I tend to like clear-cut answers at the end of a story, yet this leaves the fates of so many in question. What will become of Faelan’s mother, Roddy’s brother, and Geoffrey? What will become of Roddy and Faelan themselves and what was the gift Fionn left them?
Quote: You still belong to me, cailin sidhe.
Verdict: To be honest, I was left befuddled throughout this novel, almost as if a spell was cast over me. I never knew what would happen next and seemed to just float through the story like ethereal mist. I think the novel would have been just as good without nearly as much of the mysticism, but then it would be less magical than the title states it to be. If you analyze this book it will only leave you confused that something so unbelievably impossible can be so likeable. Despite the story leaving me feeling so off-kilter, it’s the perfect novel for those who believe in Ireland’s fairy magic.