When Megan O'Farrell inherits her uncle's house in a remote part of the windswept Atlantic coast of Ireland, she imagines it will be a romantic hideaway where she can recover from her recent divorce. But the house is a wreck that requires a fortune to restore, and she decides to sell it. An easy choice, were it not for the discovery of an old family scandal and a budding love affair with both the beautiful landscape and a handsome Kerryman. Catapulted into country life and faced with the less romantic side of farming, she also has to deal with a conspiracy to make her leave.
This is a romance novel pretty much in the mould of what you would expect in a romance novel – which is not a bad thing if you are one of those readers who devours romance novels. It is listed as a romantic comedy, though, which I wouldn’t have classed it as. It’s a light and escapist read, but not really a comedy, although there are comic moments.
The premise is good: a woman down on her luck is unexpectedly left a house in her uncle’s will in a beautiful part of Ireland; the house is ramshackle, but she falls in love with it; there are some interesting romantic interests; there is a family secret and some people who think she should not have inherited the house. Lots of potential for a good story, but not all of it followed through.
I liked that there were some predictably amusing scenes about a city woman finding herself in the country, but they weren’t caricatures and the point wasn’t laboured – Megan just learns how to fit in, as most people in that situation would. I had trouble really relating to Megan, though – I couldn’t fit a lot of what she did with a thirty-eight year old and had to keep reminding myself that she wasn’t in her early twenties. She is not a strong character. I didn’t like that she felt hard done by when she was caught out committing fraud over benefits; characters don’t have to be perfect (and who wants them to be?), but fraud is not OK – it’s not like she was struggling to find the rent and feed her children.
I liked the secondary characters more than the main ones, especially Beata and her Russian lover Boris. The reader soon sees that Megan’s new love interest is a slimy git, even though she can’t see that herself. The sliminess is reined in though, which makes it a more interesting read, but the ending to that scenario is a bit of a damp squib, and a few of the hints to the sliminess are a bit clumsy. That first bedroom scene … no; just no.
It is reasonably well written but the plot could have been deeper. There is plenty of scope for it. There is a red herring near the beginning, which could have been expanded on more neatly than it actually unfolds; there is hidden treasure, which just happens to be found at an opportune moment; Megan needs work and twice she just happens to be offered it, with no effort on her part; and she finds out vital information by being in the right place at exactly the right time to overhear it. These are clumsy devices and suggest a lack of planning. Much is made of the beautiful Kerry coastline, but it is not explained so that someone who doesn’t know it can really picture it. The house needs a lot of work on it, but little detail is given as to how this is done – people love house makeovers. There is plenty of opportunity for typical Irish humour to shine through, but the humour is sporadic and non-specific.
Many readers of this genre will enjoy Hot Property, I’m sure, but for me it was too light on detail.
Editorial Input & Design
Copy-edited and proofread, I’m sure, but I’m not convinced there was a developmental edit. I’d probably suggest having shorter chapters, giving all the main characters a bit more, well, character, prolonging the suspense and relying less on plot shoe-horning. I would also suggest leaving some things for the reader to work out: there are a few places where it is obvious by the dialogue what is happening, but then immediately after the speech we are given a summary of what was meant. Also, the scene where Megan just happens to turn up at the very moment the pertinent part of a conversation is taking place and the characters are explaining to each other things that they would already know in voices loud enough for Megan to overhear is clumsy and not well handled. I think a lot of readers would enjoy more scene setting (since this is such a picturesque part of Ireland) and more about how the house was done up.
Cover: Not professionally designed, I’d guess. It’s attractive and hints at the contents of the book, but the typography leaves a little to be desired. And that does not look to me like the back of a thirty-eight-year-old sophisticated stylist (which was Megan’s job before she left Dublin).
Internal design: Not bad, but not professional. A professional would have made paragraphs starting after a blank line to be full out. Most of the text is justified, but there are parts that are unjustified, and even one paragraph that is centred. There are no hyperlinks to chapters.
Book Clubs & Reviews
Too light a read, I’d say, for a book club. Discussion could be about greed, mistrust, developers and farming, but I don’t think they’d be too in-depth.
What others are saying: Amazon UK readers give it 4.3 stars (251 reviewers); Amazon US readers give it 4 stars (269 reviewers); Goodreads readers give it 3.53 stars (690 ratings).
Surprisingly for a book with so many reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, I couldn’t find any blogger reviews. Let me know if you’ve reviewed it and I will link here.