Monday, December 10, 2012

The Brightest Flame in Ballymuir by Dorien Kelly

When Irish artist Vi Kilbride travels from her village of Ballymuir to prepare her beloved late grandmother's cottage in Duncarraig for sale, more than memories of the summers she'd spent growing up there await her. Long-ago love Liam Rafferty is back in town. Vi, who has kept her heart to herself since having it broken by Liam, finds herself drawn to him all over again. Time has spun back to that passionate summer when they'd first loved for Liam, too.

But Vi and Liam are soon at odds. Liam has begun a search for Rafferty's Gold, a legendary treasure allegedly hidden by one of Vi's ancestors after her heart had been broken by a faithless Rafferty. Liam, with his high-tech search equipment, might think the ancient gold is his to do with as he pleases. But Vi, with only her often stubborn second sight and her grandmother's journals to guide her, knows the gold belongs in a museum. Will these two passionate treasure-seekers find a legendary love to go with the gold, or is their past too strong to conquer?

Thank goodness all three of these books were out when I started. It's pretty clear from the beginning that Vi was going to be the one to wait for. Enigmatic, independent, magical Vi and her art. She's someone the reader roots for throughout the series, as she uses a not so subtle hand to push her brother and friend toward their own HEAs. With all that buildup I had a lot of expectations for her book and I would say that for the most part Kelly met them.

Since Liam and Vi knew each other and had a relationship when they were younger there's not really any initial awkwardness when it comes to how they fit. There might be lingering hurt feelings because of how it ended but what they could be too each other is always there. Finding Rafferty's gold is as good a reason as any to bring them together but ultimately I think this suffered a bit from too little pages and too many supporting characters. A good bit of screen time is taken from Vi and Liam to allow Liam the chance to interact with his daughter (& ex-wife) and his sometimes incredibly aggravating family. The same could be said on Vi's side; her mother and father start to have their own marital problems in this book and while it was a nice balance to have them mostly work things out, it distracted a bit from the main hero and heroine. None of this ruins the story for me, and I can see how/why the supporting characters are there (to highlight certain personality traits, to encourage growth for Liam and Vi, etc.), but since I'd been waiting for this particular story I may have selfishly wanted it to be all about them. As a whole this a very enjoyable series set in small town Ireland; it's right up my alley and something I'd recommend to anyone.

Overall Feeling - B

Series - 1) The Last Bride in Ballymuir 2) The Boldest Man in Ballymuir 3) The Brightest Flame in Ballymuir