>> Tuesday, February 04, 2003
Yesterday I filled out a survey where one of the questions was which were my 3 favourite romance novels. Born in Fire was #1 (#2 was Shining Through, by Susan Isaacs and #3 Winter Garden, by Adele Ashworth)
In this first novel of a planned trilogy, Roberts tells the story of a girl from an Irish village who gains international acclaim as a glass sculptress. Margaret Mary Concannon is sent to Venice by her doting father, Tom, to study glassblowing, even though every penny he spends on his beloved daughter is begrudged by her churlish mother. Tom's untimely death and his wife's ongoing bitterness prohibit Margaret Mary from reaching success in either art or marriage until the wealthy manager of an art gallery helps her to attain international acclaim and wealth; he also falls in love with her and plans to change her commitment to her art alone. Roberts' tale of passion in the Irish art world is a beguiling one.
Brianna, sister of the sculptress, is a more devoted daughter and makes a home for her carping mother in her bed-and-breakfast in the Irish village. Brianna's story of love is promised in the sequel, Born in Ice. The adventures of Tom Concannon's illegitimate daughter are to be told in Born in Shame.
I adored Maggie! She's as strong as Eve (from the In Death series) but with a less sour disposition. This is a heroine who is an artist and actually wants fame and fortune (though she won't compromise her art for it!). She's neither an inexperienced virgin nor promiscuous, and she'll actually make the first move with a man. She sometimes, when the situation merits, gets a little drunk celebrating. She's no martyr, and doesn't feel she has to be a doormat to her mother simply because she's her mother (Brianna does, which is probably why I like Born in Fire much better than Born in Ice). I love this woman and want to be like her when I grow up!
Rogan is adorable, but anyone would pale next to Maggie. He's great, a yummy hero, but I feel he's there to serve as a foil for Maggie... I mean, he's so perfect! I found it terribly romantic how he immediately fell for Maggie and acknowledged that he loved her very fast. The "hero as pursuer" is one of my favourite themes in romance.
This is straight romance (no external conflicts, like villains plotting to kill Maggie or stuff like that), but it never feels padded or runs out of steam. There's enough fascinating info about glass blowing and art, and 2 secondary storylines which are given just the right amount of space and never overwhelm the protagonists.
This one's the perfect book, IMO. A grade of A+
PS - What is it with Nora and friends and family kissing each other on the mouth, "long and hard"? Do people do that in your family? Weird!