REVIEW: The Irish Goodbye by Amy Ewing

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Illustrated cartoon style cover showing a white couple smirking at each other in front of a pub against an emerald green country landscape, there's a border collie nearby in a play-bow and the woman is holding a tuxedo cat. The pub is on the water and there is a rowboat tied to the dock.Cordelia James was once at the top of her game—a renowned street photographer with a massive social media following, gallery showings in Chelsea, and a lucrative book deal. But after the sudden death of her father, Cordelia can barely force herself to leave her apartment. That is, until she sees an ad for a summer gig at a cozy cottage on Ireland’s picturesque Inishmore island. Cordelia is on a plane before she can talk herself out of it.

The moment she steps off the boat, she crashes—literally—into Niall O’Connor, a grumpy local who’s just returned home to Inishmore from Dublin. Niall is nursing a broken heart and trying to patch up a broken life, and he has no time for posh American tourists. The more Cordelia’s and Niall’s paths cross, the more they make each other’s lives hell. But as with all rivalries, their hatred is about to reach a tipping point—and it’s going to heat up their cool coastal nights.

Featuring a lovable band of quirky supporting characters, The Irish Goodbye is a steamy, emotionally gripping tale of love, passion, art, food, and finding where you belong.

Dear Amy Ewing,

Cordelia’s beloved father died suddenly two years earlier. Since then, she has been stuck, grieving and unable to move on. Her career as a street photographer stalled and she lost a lot of followers and income as a result. She’s been unable to post anything on Instagram since her father’s death and she needs to kickstart her life. So when the opportunity for a summer in Inishmore, Ireland comes up, she takes it.

Cordelia never goes anywhere without her camera; apart from it being essential to her in terms of who she is and her art, it was a gift from her father. She has his thumbprint laminated and stuck on the “click” button and it reminds her of him every time she uses it. So, when she arrives in Inishmore and is bumped by a guy also getting off the ferry and her camera falls to the ground smashing the lens, she is devastated and angry. This is Cordelia’s “meet-not-cute” with Niall. Needless to say, the couple do not get off to a good start.

Cordelia has a significant and deep connection to that camera and she is considerably upset over the damage to it, but once she assures herself it can be repaired back in New York and she gets a new camera sent over from Dublin, the old one barely rates a mention. As it happens, there appears to have been something about the old camera holding her back because she finds herself able to enjoy her art again with the new camera and while she’s in Ireland she starts posting again on Instagram, with impressive response from her growing audience.

Inishmore is a very small place and the community is close-knit. The older woman Cordelia is nominally there to keep an eye on barely needs assistance at all. Roisin is a cantankerous and meddling old woman who speaks her mind no matter who she is addressing. I enjoyed her very much in the book but I think in real life I’d be intimidated and wary of crossing her!

The pub owned by Niall’s family is the best place to eat on the island and as Cordelia doesn’t cook, she bumps into Niall over and over again.

When Niall first arrived back on Inishmore, he was not exactly happy to be there. He has a fraught relationship with his dad. His father is overly critical and is disappointed Niall did not wish to stay on the island and take over the family pub (eventually). He was resistive to Niall’s ideas for menu changes before Niall left and Niall doesn’t hold out much hope anything has changed since. Niall left the island to try his luck on the mainland, working his way up in the kitchen until he finally had the chance to open his own place, serving his own food. And then he walked in on his his fiancee and business partner having sex on the floor of their soon-to-be-opened restaurant and everything turned to crap. He lost his business, his fiancee and his home (he and Shannon lived together) in one fell swoop. He’s devastated and has come home to lick his wounds. Given his relationship with his dad, he is waiting for an “I told you so” type moment which will just add insult to injury.

Considering how broken Niall is when he first arrives back in Inishmore (almost the first thing he does when he gets home is to put his head in his hands and cry), it was a surprise how quickly he was ready to move on once he met Cordelia (well, once she and he started to forge a friendship at least – which was not very long after they both got to the island). All of a sudden, he’s feeling free and lighter than ever. He’s no longer pining over Shannon and he’s all in for Cordelia. It was a little too quick for me. He does still mourn the loss of his business. In the end I decided Niall mustn’t have loved Shannon all that much.

Niall and Cordelia were good together. I liked how Cordelia stuck up for Niall with his father one night at a shared dinner. Niall’s dad was a bit taken aback by this but it did lead to him rethinking his behaviour and, with additional encouragement from Niall’s mother and from Roisin, he takes steps to repair his relationship with his son.

Once Cordelia and Niall admit their attraction, they enjoy an idyllic few weeks – he begins to teach her to cook, they explore more of the island together, she takes loads of photographs – many of him –  and #Irishhottie trends in her Insta feed.

Her heart was racing, unable to believe this was really happening, unable to compute that he was telling her he felt the same way she did. “But I’m only here until the end of August,” she said. “What then?”

“I don’t think we need to go worrying about that just yet,” Niall said. “You might not like me anymore in a couple of months.”

“I already didn’t like you,” she pointed out. “And look where that got us.”

After that initial discussion, they don’t talk about it again until Cordelia’s return to New York is imminent. The conflict here was not unexpected but both of them made some odd decisions which felt like they were needed for plot reasons rather than anything else and, in the case of the oddest one, from Niall, it was just a bit over the top and too spontaneous for my taste. I didn’t quite get the “all or nothing” of it. There are times when a couple not having a discussion makes sense in a story but I didn’t feel the setup here explained why they chose not to talk to one another about some things and in other cases, I felt Niall gave in too easily when the answer was staring him in the face.

I enjoyed Cordelia’s photography and Niall’s cooking – both were very skilled and deserving of success in their respective fields. I also liked Pocket – the border collie who played her own part in Cordelia and Niall’s romance. Pocket was a very good dog. (Despite the picture on the cover, there wasn’t a cat.) I liked both Niall’s and Cordelia’s parental problems were resolved in the story in ways that made sense. While I understood Cordelia feeling resentful to her mother’s boyfriend, it had been two years since  Cordelia’s dad had died and it felt unreasonable of Cordelia to give her mum such a hard time about it. On the other hand, her mother’s constant harping about Cordelia finding love herself was definitely obnoxious.

The broader cast in Inishmore were also enjoyable to read about. Colin in particular was a charmer. I also enjoyed Cordelia’s best friend back home in New York, Liz. 

The Irish Goodbye had three very distinct acts; unfortunately each one didn’t – quite – smoothly flow into the other and the book felt a little disjointed and forced in places. There were things to like but it didn’t wow me either. Funnily enough, I think this book would work better as a Netflix movie. The things that were thin in the book would be expected on film and with a little adaptation (I’m looking at you Niall) I’d happily watch it.

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Kaetrin

Kaetrin started reading romance as a teen and then took a long break, detouring into fantasy and thrillers. She returned to romance in 2008 and has been blogging since 2010. She reads contemporary, historical, a little paranormal, urban fantasy and romantic suspense, as well as erotic romance and more recently, new adult. She loves angsty books, funny books, long books and short books. The only thing mandatory is the HEA. Favourite authors include Mary Balogh, Susanna Kearsley, Joanna Bourne, Tammara Webber, Kristen Ashley, Shannon Stacey, Sarah Mayberry, JD Robb/Nora Roberts, KA Mitchell, Marie Sexton, Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews, just to name a few. You can find her on Twitter: @kaetrin67.

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