In Honor of St. Patrick’s Day

shamrocks Both historical and contemporary romances set in England abound, and there are plenty of Scottish romances (especially Scottish romances with the word “Highlander” in the title). In fact, our own listing of Scots and Irish romances is dominated by the Scotland-set books. However, when I started thinking of Irish romances for St. Patrick’s Day, I quickly realized that there weren’t nearly as many out there. Perhaps some of the sad events in Ireland’s history have something to do with this. This is a shame, because Ireland is a beautiful place with a rich history that is far from 100% tragic and I hope more authors will discover it. In the meantime, here are some of my favorite romances with some tie to Ireland:

- Countess of Scandal by Laurel McKee – Not only is this a very recent release, but it was a wonderful read. I got to read this for review, and absolutely loved the book! The heroine’s love for Ireland plays a central part in the book, so it’s a very appropriate St. Patrick’s Day read.

Erinsong by Diana Groe – If you want to lose yourself in medieval Ireland, this is a good way to do it. The novel features an Irish heroine and the Viking hero who washes up on shore. The two should be enemies, but they end up falling in love in a vividly written story.

- A Match Made in Scandal by Melody Thomas – This story of two Victorian engineers is split between Ireland and England, so it’s not strictly an Irish romance. However, hero and heroine are both Irish Catholics and their backgrounds are more than mere wallpaper in this very entertaining story.

Now and Then by Jacqueline Sheehan – This is one of those books that I think I will have to reread. It’s a time travel tale(not a romance) set partly in modern days and partly in mid-nineteenth century Ireland. The heroine and her nephew find themselves in very different circumstances in Ireland, must try to find a way home, and it’s quite the adventure.

– the Born In trilogy (Born in Fire, Born in Ice, Born in Shame) by Nora Roberts – Nora Roberts has several books set in Ireland(not to mention her fantastic Irish hero Roarke from the J.D. Robb In Death books). However, this trilogy uses the setting well and she tells good stories here – it’s one of my favorites of her many series.

The Bridal Bet by Trish Wylie – This category romance is a fun, “feel good” read. The story centers on old friends in Ireland who end up thrown together after the heroine’s return from living in the United States. The “let’s pretend to be a couple” setup is contrived, but the author makes it fun.

The Ground She Walks Upon by Meagan McKinney – Not a realistic story in the least, but there is something enchanting about it. It has Celtic legend, prophecies and melodrama galore, but it’s still a very fun, sometimes tender read.

Uncertain Magic by Laura Kinsale – I’ve seen this referred to as “the Irish fairy book”, but it’s so much more than that. This story of a psychic heroine and an impoverished Irish earl is truly magical. There’s too much here to sum up in a short paragraph, but it really is a wonderful story and its DIK review is here.

Kathleen by Candice F. Ransom – This one is long out of print, but I adored it when I was in middle school or thereabouts. The heroine leaves Ireland in the wake of the Potato Famine and winds up as a servant in Boston. From there, we have a wonderful Cinderella story.

So, who here has a favorite Irish romance?

– Lynn Spencer

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19 Responses to In Honor of St. Patrick’s Day

  1. LinnieGayl says:

    Nora Roberts’ Born In trilogy contains one of my favorite romances (Born in Fire). I also like her Ardmore series (Jewels of the Sun, Heart of the Sea, Tears of the Moon). The European historical part of one of Lauren Willig’s books (The Deception of the Emerald Ring) is set in Ireland in 1803, and is quite fun.

  2. Jessica says:

    I loved Kathleen — it was definitely one of my favorites in that whole series. Thanks for bringing back good memories!!

  3. Barb in Maryland says:

    And don’t forget that Nora went Irish with her vampire trilogy (Cirle Trilogy). Joan Wolf had an Irish heroine in A Difficult Truce, a nice examination of Irish/ English politics of the early 1800′s and a darn good romance too.
    And another thank you for mentioning Kathleen! I had forgotten about that one.

  4. Kim T says:

    Thanks for the suggestions! I’m always looking for good Irish romances and I’m so often disappointed. Some like Dorien Kelly’s and JoAnn Ross’s Irish series are pleasant but not as good (IMHO) as Nora Roberts’s classic Irish trilogies. Born in Shame is my favorite of the bunch.

    I have a master’s degree in early modern European history, with a focus on 17th and 18th century Ireland and I can’t wait to read Laurel McKee’s Countess of Scandal because it centers around the 1798 rebellion. She clearly pays close attention to historical detail judging from her work in The Winter Queen (under her other name Amanda McCabe).

    Other favorites of mine:

    Of course! Kathleen by Candice F. Ransom. I read this in fourth grade (it was my third Sunfire and now I still own them all!)

    To Marry An Irish Rogue – Lisa Hendrix (one of the short-lived Irish Eyes series and one of the few of the bunch that I enjoyed)

    Maiden Voyage – Judith O’Brien (ghost romance set in contemporary and Georgian Dublin)

    and finally Jeanette Baker has a few Irish romances worth noting, but her Nell and Irish Lady are the best of the bunch

  5. MB says:

    Juliet Marillier has set quite a few books in ancient Ireland. I highly recommend ‘Daughter of the Forest’ for newbies. They are fantasy novels but incorporate strong romance elements.

  6. MB says:

    And if you want to read something odd and fun, try “Blessed Are The Cheesemakers” by Sarah-Kate Lynch. Not a romance per se, but full of them.

  7. MB says:

    Ooops, sorry for multiple posts…I keep thinking of more! Don’t forget Marian Keyes. Modern chic lit with lots of romance. Most are set in Ireland or about Irish protagonists.

  8. Michael says:

    Not sure if they should count, but the climatic scenes of Julia Quinn’s “The Lost Duke of Wyndham” and “Mr Cavendish, I Presume” are set in Ireland.

  9. trish says:

    I don’t know why I always forget that A MATCH MADE IN SCANDAL was set partially in Ireland!

    My fave “Irish” read is Emma Jensen’s THE IRISH ROGUE, a rare Regency-era book set in Dublin. Witty and wonderful. IIRC, another Jensen, MOONLIT, is set partially in Ireland as well.

    Ana Seymour wrote a quartet of books set in Elizabethan Ireland (and England): THE BLACK SWAN, ROSE IN THE MIST, THE IRISH GYPSY and my fave, THE MAID OF KILLARNEY.

  10. SarahT says:

    Great list, Lynn! I enjoyed ‘Carnal Gift’ by Pamela Clare. I know a lot of readers didn’t enjoy it as much as her other historicals but I thought she did a good job with the period detail.

    I second MB’s recommendation of Marian Keyes. My favourite is ‘Rachel’s Holiday’. It deals with some heavy issues (drug addiction and depression), but there’s a really lovely romance in it. For fans of marriage-in-trouble books, ‘Angels’ is also a good read.

  11. Lusty Reader says:

    *nostalgic sigh* La Nora’s Born In…trilogy were the first of her books I ever read, and the first two remain my very favorites.

    Another Irish-set-series I love is The de Warenne Dynasty by Brenda Joyce. They get a little bloody at times, but wouldn’t any historically set Irish story?

  12. Lusty Reader says:

    oh – sorry for the double comment but I just thought of another all time Irish favorite from my youth: anything by MAEVE BINCHY! My favorites by far are The Glass Lake, Echoes, and of course her most well know, Circle of friends.

  13. Tina says:

    Seconding the love for Juliet Marillier’s novels (especially the Sevenwaters trilogy and her most recent, ‘Heart’s Blood’), as well as the mention of Emma Jensen’s ‘The Irish Rogue’ which I can’t count the amount of times I’ve reread. Even though the parts set in Ireland are only flashbacks, the list wouldn’t be complete without Laura Lee Guhrke’s ‘Conor’s Way’, which contains probably the best-drawn Irish hero I’ve read in romance.

  14. jojo says:

    don’t forget the Karen Marie Moning “Fever” series with the unforgettable Jericho Barrons… It’s totally set in Ireland. So far there are 4 books but we are eagerly awaiting the last one in the series, “Shadowfever”

  15. Nana says:

    Carla Kelly’s Reforming Lord Ragsdale. The hero is anti-Irish, for reasons you learn in the book (related to the rising), and the heroine is Irish. There is a lot of plot in this small book, and it’s one of my favorite Kellys.

  16. Pop Tart says:

    Anna McPartlin has done written some wonderful contemporaries set in Ireland. Like Marian Keyes’ hers are more chick lit then romance and they do have serious underpinnings, but very nicely done. I loved Pack Up the Moon.

  17. Sabo Pike says:

    I re-read To Marry an Irish Rogue by Lisa Hendrix. It paints a lovely picture of a 1990s era Irish village. The women of the village decide the men aren’t committing to marriage because they have it too cozy. They quietly cut them off – with very good reasons, not threats. It is charming and filled with likable characters.

  18. Rodney says:

    Friends come and go, but relatives tend to accumulate.

  19. Finally, Finally…I’ve been looking for this information for a long time. Thanks

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