Monday, May 8, 2017

[ARC Review]: "Kiss of the Irish"

romance novel covers,  contemporary romance, Kiss of the Irish by Lauren Hawkeye
Kiss of the Irish by Lauren Hawkeye
Publisher: Entangled: Brazen (May 15, 2017)
Series: Foreign Fling, 1
Genre: Contemporary Romance

If Sarah Mercer had ever been asked to describe herself in one word, it would be sensible. After all, she had a steady job. Made prudent decisions. Was in what she though was a logical relationship. But when her fiance dumps her for an exotic dancer, Sarah decides it’s time to change…everything! The first thing on her agenda? To get out of town and take a three month trip to Ireland. She’d always been captivated by the Emerald Isle. And she’d heard that there was nothing like an Irishman with a sexy accent and eyes as devastatingly green as the country’s rolling hills to make a girl feel better. 
But maybe she shouldn’t have hooked up with her new landlord on the first night in town. Cian Murphy wasn’t supposed to be her type. His arms and chest were tattooed, and he had piercings everywhere. Still, he made her feel beautiful, sexy…alive for the first time in years. Falling for the Irish hottie was as natural as breathing. But figuring out what she’d do when it came time to leave? Not so easy... 

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My Review:

I had such high hopes for Kiss of the Irish. Hell, the entire reason I grabbed this one is in the title itself – I have a weakness for Ireland and Irish heroes. This book has both. It should have made me a happy reader, but instead I was frustrated, pissed off at the hero, disappointed by cock-piercing-teasing, and ultimately unsatisfied by this read. Strap in, there’s another ranty review ahead!

Sarah has lived her entire life doing what was expected of her, giving up her dreams (painting) in order to do what her parents thought a more acceptable career choice (curator for art), etc, etc. When her fiancĂ© leaves her for a stripper – sorry, burlesque dancer, as he points out – she decides a change is in order. She finds an ad for a flat for rent in a small Irish town, signs up for a summer course to finish up her master’s degree (Art History), and heads off to Ireland.

Again, this should have been something that appealed to me; I do like when a heroine breaks out of whatever shell or cage she’s been stuck in all her life and starts to have fun, starts to take control of her own life. Sadly, I never felt a connection to Sarah, so I didn't really care that she was doing this. It all fell flat.

S: Here's some advice from the opposite sex: a Facebook profile picture is not overly indicative of what a person really looks like. It's what the person wants the world to see.

C: Well, Ms. Mercer, here's some advice for you in return: every face that a person puts on has some inkling of their true self in it.

The hero, Cian, is the landlord for the flat she’s renting. He also owns a pub across the street, as well as some other businesses/properties in the area. Anyway, their first interaction, technically, is the emails when she’s first applying for the flat. There’s a bit of mild flirting in these emails, and again I thought “Okay, this should be good.” *sigh* But again, I never felt like this book reached its potential.

My first issue with this book starts in the very beginning, during the email exchange, when he sees a picture of Sarah on FB. This is the message he sends to her, I shit you not:

This woman [as in Sarah] is wearing far too much makeup, but it's not enough to hide the fact that her eyes -- gorgeous eyes, by the way -- are a little bit sad. Of course, the picture only shows your head. You could very well be one of those stick insect types who survives on kale. This will disappoint Mr. Gallagher [as in him] greatly.

No. NOOOOO. NOOOOOOPE. Repeat after me: a woman’s makeup – or lack thereof, for that matter – is entirely HER choice, and no one, least of all the man she’s supposed to fall for, gets to criticize her for having too much on. Not to mention the body shaming going on there, too. This is only a few pages into the book and I’m already giving him the side-eye. I still have some hope that it will improve, that I can . . . not forgive him, but find something good in him during the rest of the book, at least.

Oh, but then starts all his sex-obsessed thoughts about her. Which is a problem here because she just got to the country, is super jet lagged – to the point of falling asleep where she sits/stands – doesn’t technically know him, hasn’t showed interest in him outside of an awkward kind-of-flirting moment (while under the influence of jet-lag sleepiness) – and yet he can’t stop looking at her, thinking about her body and what he wants to do to it. Which is iffy enough, but then it only gets worse.

Because she’s about to fall asleep in his pub, he offers to help her over to her new flat. It’s raining and of course they get soaked on the way there. She’s still SUPER out of it, mind (though how a flight from the US to Ireland, rather than, say, to Australia or something, has her THIS out of it, I do not know), and he has to all but guide/carry her up to her flat. Okay, that’s kind of sweet of him. But then when she FALLS ASLEEP ON THE BED, he realizes he should take her wet clothes off for her. Again – iffy, but there’s some kindness/concern there, so I’m waiting to see how this turns out.

This is how it turns out: the entire time he’s trying to get her shirt off, his mind is going over how much he loves her curves, how tempted he is by them, and how he has to actually HOLD HIMSELF BACK from giving in and touching her.

If she wanted him right here, right now, he was more than willing. Cian could be out of his clothes in a trice, and he didn’t give a damn if the whole world were to see them… 

No. No, she didn’t even know what she was doing. She wasn’t under the influence of anything, but neither was she in her right mind. 

It took every iota of willpower he had, but Cian tore his mouth from hers. The way she looked up at him—mouth swollen, eyes glazed over with want—was almost enough to make him kiss her again, but he refrained.

Remember: they are strangers, SHE IS ASLEEP AND OUT OF IT, she has not verbally given him a reason to believe she’d consent to anything between them, period.

Damp hair in a tangle on the pillow, Sarah started to snore so suddenly that she startled a laugh out of him, and then a curse when he realized that the clothing she was wearing was completely soaked. 

He wasn’t changing her out of them. He had self-control, but he wasn’t a saint.

AND. HE. HAS. TO. STOP. HIMSELF. FROM. TAKING. ADVANTAGE. OF. HER. Which is what it would be, there's not turning this situation into anything else. She's out of it, therefore she's not consenting.

ALL THE FUCKING NOPES HERE. That is not hero material, that is creepy-dude-about-to-turn-rapist material and I can’t.

Yes, he leaves her in the bed, with her bra and wet jeans still on, and goes back to the pub, but I’m not giving him any goddamn cookies for NOT giving in to his rape-y desire to touch her. WHILE SHE IS FUCKING ASLEEP LIKE THE DEAD.

Needless to say, after that – and the makeup comment – I never could grow to like and trust him as a good hero.

And here’s the thing, this kind of bullshit “Let me drool over the heroine while she’s out of it and think about how much I want to touch her and am about to lose my control because THAT BODY THO I WANTZ IT NOW” pops up FAR too often in romancelandia. And I’m disappointed in myself for not calling it out when I’ve come across it in the past; I should have. But I’m doing so now because that thought process is NOT okay, ever. When he can’t help the heroine out of her clothes without it being sexual, when he can’t stop thinking about her body while she’s not even awake and consenting and he worries his control will break because of her JUST LYING THERE ASLEEP? THAT IS NOT A HERO’S THINKING. STOP THAT SHIT RIGHT NOW.

So. My rage for him is high and it’s only chapter 2. Great, great, this is going just fine.

But I kept going. I don’t know what I was thinking – I blame it on the fact that I was drawn in by his accent, his tatts, and his piercings, and tried giving him another chance. Goddamn Irish “bad boys”, I can’t resist them.

Speaking of piercings, there’s my next problem with the story. He says (during inner dialogue) that he has a cock piercing:

"Back home, I never would have dreamed of speaking with someone who had a piercing in their face. It's so...wild."

She didn't sound like she thought that was a bad thing, and it took a lot of restraint not to tell her that he had several other parts pierced as well. If she thought his eyebrow was wild, then she might pass out if she ever got a look at the hoops in his nipples and the silver bar through his cock.

Me: “Ooh this is going to be good! Especially since Sarah is so taken by his piercings. When she finds the cock one . . . oh, my! I’m ready for this!”

So I waited.

And waited.


They have sex. A few times, during the course of the book, actually.


Not. Once.

It’s just POOF! Gone. There’s nothing in his cock. There’s no mention of it, by him or her. The cock piercing has left the building – and now I’m pissed AND frustrated.

You can’t throw me a pierced bone(r) and then take it away from me! Seriously: WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?

Now, in all fairness, I have since learned from another reviewer that this mistake was found by a reviewer a few weeks ago and the editor and author are going to re-do the sex scenes to bring the piercing in, before, I assume, the final copy is uploaded to the vendor sites on May 15th.

But I don’t care. Because I want to know HOW in the ever-loving fuck does an author write about a cock piercing and then forget about it through the entire course of the book? But wait, HOW does an editor (and even beta readers, for that matter, which I’m sure she, like most authors, has) NOT PICK UP ON THIS BIG MISTAKE? LIKE, MANY MONTHS AGO? Why did it take a few reviewers, in the last weeks leading up to the book’s release, to ask “HEY, WHERE’S THE COCK PIERCING WE WERE PROMISED ON PAGE [whatever]?!”

That is a big, BIG clue that something’s missing in the writing AND editing process here. I know my mind is a one-track dirty thing, but for the love of god, how can ANYONE miss a fucking disappearing cock piercing?!

So it sounds like the piercing will be fixed by the time any of you buy this book – or at least that’s the assumption I’m making based on a conversation from another reviewer who contacted Entangled directly. But you bet your ass I’m still complaining about it here because a missing cock piercing is not the same as some minor grammar issues in an ARC. This should not have happened and I don’t know how it was never caught until this point, mere days before it hits shelves.

And while I’m pissed about the MIA piercing, I can’t say that suddenly reading the corrected copy with the piercing on page would improve my overall thoughts on this book. I mean, yay, cock piercing, but my disappointment in this book would still remain.

But the lack of piercing ties in to my next complaint about this entire  book – it felt waaaaay too underdeveloped. It’s a quick book, 180 pages, and a category romance at that. I get that. But I never felt like I knew or understood the hero or heroine; they were both just the vaguest of character outlines. She came across as weak, even as she was trying to take control of her life, and I didn’t care one bit about her. He wasn’t fleshed out any better, either -- on top of the fact that I hated him for his earlier comments (see above rant).

Also, considering Sarah's fascination with his nipple piercing and how it feels, I was sure that the author would then have her get one -- not because of the hero, but because Sarah wanted so much to break free and find herself, be herself. Getting a nipple piercing that would give her pleasure, not whatever partner she's with, seems like a good step towards finding her own agency. But, alas, that never happened. Again, so much potential, so much missed opportunity here.

And the story was just as rushed and underdeveloped, too. One moment she’s taking classes, the next (literally – the next moment) she’s not. Okay, change happens fast, I’ll bite. Then she steps in as a bartender for him one night – with zero previous experience in the serving industry at all, let alone doing drinks – AND IS AWESOME AT IT (of course she is!), coming back other nights to work for him again. Um, I don't think so? On top of that, her jump from “I’m going to enjoy these 3 months here in Ireland and find myself” to “I’m staying here FOREVER” happens during a conversation with the ex-fiance (yes, of course he shows up to beg for her to return, to forgive his cold-feet mistakes, and how she’s wasting her time and potential in Ireland), with zero thought about the consequences or, you know, MOVING TO ANOTHER COUNTRY. Hi, honey, you can’t just decide to stay there on a whim; for one thing, there’s a lot of legal shit you’re going to need to do to become a citizen.

In short: everything was too rushed and fell flat because of it. I still think there was potential here, but none of it came through in the end.

For the last minute conflict, he tries to do something to help her with her art, but because he doesn’t, you know, talk to her about it first, it comes across as controlling. She gets mad, leaves him, he sulks before going after her. His grovel comes literally during the last 2 or so pages of the book – as in, he shows up, grovels, she forgives, they kiss and that’s it, The End. And while the idea of his grovel scene, again, had the potential to be cute and “Awww” worthy, I was left disappointed because A) rushed story, rushed conflict/grovel and B) I never did grow to care for either of these two anyway, so the grovel didn’t hold much power for me, one way or another. It just . . . was. That's how I felt about their entire story: it just was, and it could have been more.

I wanted to like this one. But I didn’t. I’m rounding up to 1 ½ stars because of the potential that I so desperately wanted to see here, but really, there’s nothing about this one that makes me want to recommend it to others. I have read Hawkeye before (historical erotica) and liked it a lot more, but this one is a pass for me.

Oh, and PSA to all authors: I’ll take your Irish hero with tatts and piercings (THAT ACTUALLY SHOW UP) who does not have creeper thoughts ANY DAY. Give them to me! But not this one. Nope nope nope.

1 1/2 STARS! 

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I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley.

*Note: The quotes used belong to Lauren Hawkeye; TBQ's Book Palace does not claim them. Any mistakes or typos in the quotes are my own fault.

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It's not just me overreacting, right? I don't care if the scenes are now being re-written (at the last damn minute): HOW DO YOU MISS SUCH A BIG ERROR TO BEGIN WITH?


Until Next Time,


  *TBQ's Book Palace is a member of both the Amazon and Barnes and Nobles affiliates program. By using the links provided to buy products from either website, I receive a very small percentage of the order. To read my full disclosure on the matter, please see this post!

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