March is the time of year when everyone seems to discover at least one Irish ancestor. In my book clubs, we try to find at least one Irish- or Celtic-themed book and author to read as we enjoy our green beverages and Irish stew. We tried the corn beef and cabbage one year and it was definitely NOT a keeper, so our book club menu goes with the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day—we have beef stew and perhaps a shepherd’s pie along with our beer. The hard part is usually finding enough books that suit the theme.
As popular as the Irish appear as romantic heroes and heroines, it’s really hard to come up with romances that enough members of the book club want to read. Not to shame anyone, but perhaps the mythical world of the Celts is just not familiar territory. First, there are the courts of the fey/fae/fairy/sidhe (as you can see, we can’t agree on their names). And then there are both good and bad seelie and a glossary’s worth of unfamiliar names. And the worldbuilding adds another dimension as well. So sometimes I feel as if I am in a Star Trek adventure involving a parallel universe. I do well with it in television shows, but not so well when I’m trying to read.
But the television show Roar I watched years ago featuring a very young Heath Ledger as a young Irish Chieftain fighting the Romans, Druids and Christians still sticks in my memory. If we could have a couple of romance novels set with those characters in a similar world I’d be very happy. So imagine my surprise when I came across new-to-me author D.L. McDermott and her series Cold Iron. I didn’t know what to expect as I learned it was based in Irish and Celtic myth, but I read the first chapter in considering the next book in the Cold Iron series for review. From the very first pages I was sucked into the story and when the preview ended I was compelled to buy the full book so I could finish it that day. Even though, to be honest, I had a very full agenda including dealing with my accountant and taking care of a new puppy.
But I persevered and it was well worth it. So much so that I immediately contacted the author and asked her to be our call-in guest next week. I fell in love with the main characters Beth and Conn. And a secondary character, Liam, could be the young Heath Ledger I fondly remember. Cold Iron is initially set in Ireland but quickly moves back to a familiar world in Boston. Although I’ve only visited Boston a few times on business the city is still a very recognizable place, so I didn’t have to stretch my imagination with the worldbuilding. And although Conn is not a very likable man for the first half of the book, as he really is a pompous alpha man, even when he was at his worst, he was compelling enough to keep reading. McDermott’s storytelling talent shines in how she’s able to make the main character not so lovable yet still compelling.
And Beth—what a nice, simple name and very unusual for a take-no-guff heroine. She never takes an ounce of nonsense from either Conn, the fae whose tomb she entered, or from her nasty ex-husband. In fact, it was hard to understand why she was working with the sleaze after all he put her through during their short-lived marriage. I think Frank, the ex-husband, is the book’s weakest link.
Cold Iron is the first in a three-book series by D.L. McDermott published by Pocket Star as e-books. Cold Iron (Pocket Star, February 2014 e-book) opens in a Celtic tomb mound in Ireland uncovered by archaeologist Beth Carter and her ex-husband, Frank. The tomb seems to have been undisturbed and is filled with all the gold and accoutrements of a Celtic chieftain except for one major detail: the corpse is missing. That doesn’t bother Frank who, despite being a respected archaeologist, is really nothing more than a thief. So when he ships home gold relics he secretly put in Beth’s luggage, he unintentionally sends back to Boston something else: Conn, the god-king. And so the race is on to recover the sword which is bound to Conn and can call The Court back to this world.
The second book in the series, Silver Skin, is available April 14th and continues the story with Helene, a friend of Beth’s and the Fae sorcerer Miach MacCecht. I’ve pre-ordered and am waiting impatiently to get her story. What will you be reading in March? Do you try to find an Irish tale to celebrate St. Patrick ’s Day as well?
Sara Reyes is the founder and partner at FreshFiction.com, a popular fiction web site for today's reader with new titles, contests, over 50,000 genre fiction author profiles with backlists, and permanently archived reviews, plus all the industry buzz. Fresh Fiction has a biweekly segment (Buy the Book) on WFAA Channel 8 Good Morning Texas to talk about new books not to miss. Believing face-to-face interaction is as important as virtual communities, Fresh Fiction sponsors Adventures in Fiction in February, an annual author reader tea in June, a readers conference in November, monthly literary events, and book clubs. Follow Sara at @FreshFiction on Twitter or Facebook.com/FreshFiction.