In the thrilling sequel to the action-packed romantic adventure, A Band of Roses, the discovery of offshore gas ensnares Irish Crown Princess Talty Boru and her Royal Consort, Neil, in a web of blackmail and murder. When the residents of rural County Mayo object to plans to run pipelines over their pristine bogs, an arsonist tries to change their minds. One of his fires triggers a chain of events that sends newlyweds
Talty and Neil to an ancient world at the mercy of a waking volcano. While they struggle to keep their marriage afloat and outwit a tyrant with a shocking secret, King Brian locks horns with ruthless oilmen trying to bully their way over the bogs. The resulting conflict proves fatal for the Boru clan, whose members once again close ranks to thwart the latest threat to the kingdom they are sworn to protect.
Talty stopped at a rosebush loaded with red flowers and spotted the stem Betty’s nieces had pillaged. “I’m sorry about the rose. I asked Neil to have the pub owner put it in water.”
Betty smiled. “Mossy Burke knows his roses. He knows the devil when he comes to call, too. Mossy was the first to say Cormier Oil set fire to Davey’s barn.”
Wondering why anyone would think such a thing, Talty strolled on. “That’s a serious charge. What happened to the barn?”
“It was about five days ago, near dusk. The fire came on so fast. The hay went up in minutes and turned the place to an oven. Davey and his lads got some of the cows out. The rest burned to death, but Davey had to put down most of the ones they saved because the hot air scorched their lungs.”
Talty clamped her eyes shut against the gruesome image, though it did no good. She continued along the flagstone path. “Do the authorities know what caused the fire?”
“They know someone set it. The forensics people came to investigate. Poor Davey was devastated as it was, but when they started hinting he’d set the fire himself, for the insurance…”
“He wouldn’t have done that, at least not when the cows were in the barn.”
Betty stopped, again the angry woman in the pub. “He wouldn’t have done it at all! He had no need for such a thing. The farm’s been making a good profit for years.” She sighed and walked on. “No, we think it was something else.”
Uneasy now, Talty tried to guess what Uncle Peadar would make of Betty’s intimations. Perhaps nothing. That a company like Cormier would resort to arson made no sense. What would be the point?
The path turned at a twelve-foot-high stand of rhododendrons. That the salmon and purple blooms were a tad past their prime didn’t stop buzzing honeybees from investigating them. Talty paused before the massive shrubs and waited for the tale to continue.
Betty barely missed a beat. “Two more houses caught fire in the last few days, though there wasn’t much damage. All three properties belong to landowners who signed the petition to stop the pipeline.”
Not only did Talty question why a company that had already won legal drilling contracts and licenses from Royal Thomond would resort to scare tactics; such malevolence truly frightened her. She herself had fallen victim to intrigue born of greed, as the scars on her chest attested. Seeking refuge in the beauty around her did no good. Ugliness lurked behind every shrub now. “And you think I can help somehow?”
Betty flashed a sheepish smile. “I did think it, when I saw you in Mossy’s pub. ‘There’s someone who can sort it out,’ I said to myself. I didn’t mean to impose so. It’s just that I don’t know what anyone can do against such a monster. What if it’s not cows next time? What if it’s children, or old ones? They say you’re Banfian, and you have your father’s ear.”
They rounded another corner. The inn came into view. “Yes, I’m Banfian. And I get a turn at my father’s ear every so often. But what you’re suggesting is serious, Betty. What proof do you have?”
The innkeeper squinted toward the house. The tension in her face relaxed. “My present guests are reporters. They first came a week ago, to interview the landowners who don’t want the pipeline. I heard them talking. They’ve spoken to the police about the fires. Maybe they have proof. Let’s find out. They just came in.”
From the side yard, a couple attired in denim and wool approached the patio table. The man was young, in his early twenties, Talty guessed. Shorter than the woman, he wore a scruffy beard. When he hefted his shoulder bag and camera onto the table, Talty thought she knew him from somewhere, perhaps from one of the recent press conferences her father had called to explain her mysterious absence and return.
The woman, not much older than the man, was unhitching a leather backpack from her shoulders. Even in casual clothes, she was strikingly beautiful, though anger twisted her lovely face. With a quick swipe at the long blonde strands escaping her plastic hair clamp, she ferreted through the backpack and removed a pack of cigarettes. The young man snatched it, helped himself, and tossed it back to her.
She tapped out a cigarette for herself. “You’re such a little weasel, Gene. It’s a lucky thing for you you’re a good photographer.”
The man grinned. “Lucky for you, you mean, and I’m a great photographer.” He drew a lighter from his jacket pocket and lit their cigarettes.
Eyes narrowed to slits, Betty charged toward them. Talty chuckled and tagged along.
Betty crossed her arms and politely but sternly reminded her guests to use the ashtray on the table. “Don’t be throwing your butts in my garden.”
“Good afternoon to you too, ma’am,” said the still-grinning man.
The young woman’s blue-gray eyes widened when she saw Talty. Used to the reaction, Talty smiled, ready to make new friends. “Hello.”
Betty’s chin jutted out. “As you can see, this is Princess Talty. She’s come to view the gardens. Ma’am, please meet my current guests, Gene Cuddy and Allison Lyons.”
Never show surprise or anger. Never give the slightest clue. This defense is as important as any weapon you will ever wield. Not for the first time, Talty silently thanked her samurai mentor for his “blank expression” lessons.
Amazon Book Review
I finished this book last evening and admit to having a hard time putting it down. Ms. McDermott has a brilliant talent for bringing both scenery and characters to life that makes reading her work a sheer joy. I refuse to offer a synopsis of the plot because it's much better when it's a surprise to the reader...and this book was full of surprises. It has definitely gone into the "Reread" folder on my Kindle! I am chomping at the bit for the last book in the trilogy to be released, to see what the Boru family has in store for them. BTW...Ms. McDermott's book "Glancing Through the Glimmer" is somewhat of a prequel to the Band of Roses Trilogy and should be read, as well. I hope we will be entertained for many years to come through Ms. McDermott's very fertile imagination. Long live Ireland and long live Ms. McDermott!!
Amazon Book Review
You don't need to read all three books in order to understand and enjoy the story and characters, but you'll want to pick up all three after reading one. The beautiful scenery and characters pull you in and keep entranced until the very end of book three. Great read.
Amazon Book Review
The scenery! The excitement! The sheep! What a great book! I couldn't put it down! Considering this is part of a trilogy, I assumed I'd be a little lost / unfamiliar with the characters, but that wasn't the case. The author does a great job of bringing the reader up to speed without boring you with too many details about the past. I can't wait to read the other two!