Had a friend ask me about this one and I told her, with brutal honesty. I then debated as to whether I should tell you—blog reader—the same thing, in the same words. Decided the answer was yes. It’s crude and contains spoilers. But here goes anyway.
In the Irish Devil, Whiteside sets up the scenario of a woman at jeopardy from a cruel bastard who practically runs their small western mining town. The hero is his enemy, a prosperous and generous freight hauler who is also feared--but who always fights for those who cannot protect themselves. After the first 50 pages, I was attached to the heroine; I feared for her safety and wanted the hero to accept responsibility for protecting her tout suite.
The heroine of course wanted his protection for herself as well. I was not surprised or appalled when she figures that to gain his protection, she would have to offer herself as his mistress for three months. Given the layout of the story and the events leading up to this point, her offer of herself made sense.
But here is where the story breaks down. I absolutely did not care for his pretty much "sure, good idea" acceptance of her proposal. Since Whiteside had presented him as an honorable guy, this didn't seem a good fit. And I certainly did not care for his IMMEDIATE instruction that she go down on him. You know, to get the arrangement well underway. Then, having been struggling to survive, living in fear and having had little in the way of extensive or satisfying sex with her previous husband (she is a widow), our heroine LOVES the oral sex. Of course she did. And when he “plays” with her a bit afterwards (which you and I both know only provides minor release), she is completely satisfied, happy and contented enough to fall blissfully asleep. She then takes up the role of mistress as though she were made for it.
While that scene paved the way for explicit, hot sex going forward in the book, it did nothing to establish any emotional connection or potential emotional connection between these characters.
In the end, I can say I pretty much read it for the sex. Not for the storytelling. No connections. No sharing in a character’s chuckle or sensing another’s hesitation. Nothing.