In Love and War

Suzanne Barrett
In Love and War
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Turquoise Morning Press
Release Date
January 2011
Contemporary Romance

Embittered war correspondent Quinn Lawlor returns to his ancestral home in Ireland where he finds solace in the arms of Waterford dairy farmer Meaghann Power.

Meaghann must separate her daytime life as farmer and daughter of Irish rebels from nights of blazing desire for the one man she shouldn't love.

Will their passion prove strong enough to overcome a decades-old bitter struggle?

Book Review by CarolAnn
Jan 30, 2011   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
146 people found the following review helpful
Occasionally, a romantic novel will catch my attention because it sounds refreshingly different. Set in 1993, against the background of a troubled Ireland, with a disillusioned war correspondent as the hero and a dairy farmer as the heroine, IN LOVE AND WAR by Suzanne Barrett is one such book.

Meaghann Power has run her dairy farm in the small village of Tinmagh, County Waterford for the past nine years with some part-time help from the young Foley twins. Realising that she can no longer manage unless she has full-time assistance, Meaghann has decided to rent out the old keep on her property. With the additional money, she can employ the Foley twins full-time and the tenant would provide an extra pair of hands around the farm.

Her uncle, Tom O'Donnell, suggests an American, Quinn Lawlor, as a suitable tenant. His father, Pat Lawlor, was born in Tinmagh but had moved to the United States many years ago. Apparently, Quinn wants somewhere quiet where he can concentrate on the book he is writing.
However, Meaghann is shocked when she meets her new tenant. Not only is he rude and aggressive towards her but he also has a crippled leg. She can forget the idea of any assistance from her tenant with jobs around the farm!

Meaghann is also worried about the possible consequences of her brother, Declan's friendship with the radical Republican activist, Fergus Burke.

Although Meaghann and Quinn's initial encounters are confrontational, a mutual attraction simmers below the surface. As their relationship deepens, it is threatened by Quinn's anti-violence stance, shameful family secrets that Meaghann has kept hidden for so many years and a series of dramatic events. Will their love be strong enough to survive?

I love Quinn because he is such complex character. Despite his initial rudeness and belligerent attitude, I found myself warming to him straightaway. I think he adopts this attitude as a form of defence mechanism to avoid having to interact with people. Having been physically and emotionally hurt, he needs ‘to fight his own battles' in order to rebuild his life. However, he has not counted on meeting Meaghann and having ‘this hungering need' for her.

Quinn's experiences as a war correspondent have had a profound effect on him. They have left him with a deep hatred of violence – ‘Each assignment was even more gut-wrenching than the last. And the warring factions never learned.' He believes that the Irish are no different from the Bosnians and Serbs. ‘Ancient hatreds overwhelmed all human decency. They were all fanatics, the lot of them.' I sense that this prejudiced view of the Irish has its roots in his own father's deep commitment to Irish Republicanism and the detrimental effect it had on the relationship with his own family, particularly Quinn.

For the last nine years, Meaghann's life has centred on running the dairy farm until Quinn's arrival awakens her dormant sensuality:

‘She had known of the strong passion within her, and had done her best to harness those feelings into honest, hard work.'

I fully appreciate her initial reluctance to fully explore her relationship with Quinn. Tinmagh is a small village community where any scandal will make Meaghann's position untenable. However, Quinn shows her a ‘world of feeling outside her safe, pristine cottage', one which she is prepared to risk her reputation for.

Just as Quinn is haunted by events in his past, similarly Meaghann is haunted by closely guarded family secrets. She is afraid that if the truth is ever revealed, Quinn will hate her and the people of Tinmagh will despise her family. I felt that both needed to trust each other enough to be completely honest about their pasts.

Ms Barrett creates a wonderful chemistry between Quinn and Meaghann, their initial wariness of each other developing into a growing attraction culminating in the consummation of their relationship. The love scenes are both tender and sensual.

The political subplot involving Meaghann's brother, Declan, provides a real awareness of the turmoil and danger inherent in Ireland at that time. However, it doesn't overshadow the love story.

Ms Barrett has a wonderful creative writing style and I found it so easy to visualize the settings and characters in my mind. She also has the ability to convey the characters' emotions with such raw intensity.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a well-written and thought-provoking story, complex characters and powerful emotions.
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