On a cold winter night on Ireland’s west coast, Declan Lorne, the last Lord of Ireland, throws a lavish party at his magnificent castle. The location is wonderful, the guests are old friends who all know each other, the atmosphere is great. But before the night is out he dies, leaving behind his bereft wife, three twentysomething daughters and a dilapidated estate with no money to fix it. The next unpleasant surprise comes when his will is read: he leaves the estate not to his wife, not Ottie, his eldest, who has helped him run the estate for so long; but to his estranged youngest daughter, Willow, with whom he has been out of touch for three years.
I’ll preface this by saying I’m not much of a romance reader. I probably never will be. I don’t watch romcoms and I hate sugary christmas movies. I did, however, need a break from my usual gore and bloodshed as I bided my time between one big book and the next. The Christmas party, in that regard, did its job just fine in that it was a quick read, even though it’s a fairly big book, and it kept me entertained.
Ultimately, though, it was too predictable for me. All the sisters are still single at the start of the party but as a reader we know exactly that not only will they find a man before the end of the novel; we also know with whom they will end up. The sisters themselves don’t have a lot of depth. There is Ottie, a budding artist who has thrown away her aspirations to be with a married man she believes will leave his wife any day now; reckless Pip, an equestrian fanatic and chronic (dumb) risk taker; and Willow, whose Deep Dark Family Secret (I thought it was going to be a child abuse thing, but it’s not that) has driven her to lead a glamorous life running a yoga studio in Dublin and filling her Instagram feed with pictures or herself swanning around festivals with an assortment of men. They’re very different but also entirely interchangeable.
Ultimately, we know exactly how the plot is going to wrap up and that just isn’t my cup of tea. I hate hamfisted plottwists, sure, but I don’t very much care for predictability either. There’s nothing like majoring in English to suck the joy out of reading, apparently. I find it hard to give this book a rating because I have so little to compare it to (the last romance novel I read was The Royal We, which is apparently a pretty good one in that genre, and it mostly just annoyed me). Like so many things, it was just okay, but if anyone here can tell me about a truly great romance novel I’d love to hear it!