I strive to give my work layers of meaning so that reader could take what they want from the novels. They can be simple escapist thrillers or very much more. Marcia Quinn-Noren has read each of the West Cork Trilogy novels and has unpeeled the literary onion so beautifully, I felt compelled to share her reviews here. In her work illuminating the spiritual layers of ‘the maid’ in: Joan of Arc, The Mystic Legacy, she demonstrated her skill as a peeler of layers and someone sensitive to nuance and depth of meaning. I was therefore especially gratified when she brought that sensitivity to bear on reviewing my work. She has illuminated the trilogy as beautifully as she did her Joan. I’m thankful and delighted by the results. I know Marcia Quinn-Noren to be a stickler for honesty and she is a courageous battler against – bull,  so I will say: yes Marcia is a friend. I also know if she found fault with my work I’d hear about it, and how!  I say this so there can be no suspicion that these reviews are authors patting each other’s backs, a practice we both abhor.

Here are her reviews:

Review of Surviving Beauty, by Marcia Quinn-Noren.

New Surviving Beauty

New Surviving Beauty

The Dangers that Walk With Beauty,

A simple question framed on the book’s cover, above the image of a sun-kissed blonde, her perfectly wide-set eyes brimming with innocence, hints at the controversial topics probed within David Rory O’Neill’s courageous and compelling novel: “Can Regan survive the exploitation of her beauty?” The title itself suggests what many of us know full well, yet fail to consciously acknowledge. An element of danger accompanies the attribute of beauty.

This first volume of the “West Cork Trilogy” takes readers into young Regan’s world, where shadows stalk her every move throughout the precious days, months and years of her late childhood and early adolescence. Well paced chapters introduce a growing cast of finely developed characters, bringing intensity, suspense, confrontation, rescue and retribution.

The heroic force embodied by Detective Inspector Jim Burrows breaks the grip of evil that has held Regan and her friend Mary in a state of bondage. But wounded creatures suffer from their unseen scars, long after the trap has been sprung. While the coping mechanisms that served to support Regan’s survival are no longer needed, they remain fixed at the core of her being.

Jim’s strong convictions find support in the genuine, tender love he shares with his sensuous Biddy, the wife who stands beside him. Their relationship demonstrates the healing power of romantic harmony, allowing Regan to find the security, safety and serenity that had been absent from her life. Will the gifts so generously offered by Jim and Biddy provide adequate soothing balm to heal and transform Regan’s inner turmoil and confusion into calm self-containment? I look forward to finding the answer to this and much more in “Beauty’s Price” and “Blue Sky Orphan” as the trilogy continues.

Review of Beauty’s Price by Marcia Quinn-Noren.

New Beauty's Price

New Beauty’s Price

In “Beauty’s Price”, the second book of David Rory O’Neill’s “West Cork Trilogy” we are reunited with the characters introduced in “Surviving Beauty”. O’Neill’s themes combine incidents of high drama, action-packed enough to be in the “thriller” category, with soothing, authentic interaction between his extraordinarily strong characters. The lives they lead might be considered exotic, and far from conventional. Embracing their worldview requires the reader’s willingness to move away from the ordinary.

I am inspired by the bravery displayed by these characters as they move through their individual and collective emotional and physical crises, facing down whatever confronts them. What is most beautiful about their inter-relationships is that no one is alone here; they guard and protect one another, in scenes that combine acts of ferocity with moments of great tenderness. David and Regan are physically beautiful lovers whose happy ending seems certain, and yet we know that life offers anything but certainty. The evil acts and influences inflicted upon them by Eric Lang and Jo Dillon in “Surviving Beauty” left them both scarred on the inside. Those interior wounds now take their toll, years later.

As we have seen in the world of celebrity, when a woman is blessed with perfect beauty, the asset seen by the world as powerful, she will not necessarily be fortunate. She will not be treated with greater respect, but instead she will experience objectification. Looking into a mirror, she may only see her flaws.

She only knows that she is noticed, no matter where she goes, even into the supermarket. She feels the responses coming at her, and they are not all positive. Being ‘ogled’ can feel more threatening than complimentary. She may be more likely to attract the ‘wrong kind’ of man, the kind of man who wants to possess something of value. She eventually may discover that her beloved was smitten by his own idealization of her, and is terrified of facing the reality of her flaws and complexities.

Jim Burrows provides the final, heroic act of retribution that frees Regan and Mary from being forever imprisoned by the past. But David’s release is less clear. Will he survive beauty’s price? More will be revealed in “Blue Sky Orphan” as his shadow haunts the third book in the West Cork Trilogy. We must believe in his survival, as these characters continue to prove that the power of love stands victorious over adversity and evil.

Book Review: Blue Sky Orphan by Marcia Quinn Noren

BSOcoverMajor themes in the novels of David Rory O’Neill are human sensitivity, the power of open-hearted empathy, and triumph over adversity, brought by physical and emotional strength. In “Blue Sky Orphan” we are introduced to Emma, the character I grew to love most, in all the books of his West Cork Trilogy.

In the opening pages we find Emma the pilot, alone in the blue sky, bursting with the joy that comes from feeling such freedom, yet risk-taking, once again. For her, this is an all-too familiar game; cheating death, one more time. Taking risks has become more than second nature for Emma, it is part of her essence. She doesn’t know how to live any other way.

Instinct-injured women are drawn toward forms of danger that would repel those with “normal” instincts. Emma’s self-containment is unnerving for those who observe her closely. She considers herself the observer, and is almost unaware of being observed. Accustomed to attracting the attention of both genders, she remains internally preoccupied with her thoughts, duties and plans of action. Those who watch her ask themselves, “What is it that holds her together and yet apart, so very separate from the rest of us?”

All of that changes when Emma steps out of the comfort zone of her compatible partnership with the enigmatic Peter, into the world of his past, and the people and places he had kept secret from her. Becoming introduced to Lauren and Daniel, two primary characters who populated that world, would open her, change and break her, then make her whole again. Bonny, who completes the inexplicable triad is an enchantress whose spell-casting mesmerizes and captivates Emma.

The mutual attraction between these powerful women is perfectly natural, but their acceptance of one another’s power is utterly unlike what most of us have experienced. That power brings healing beyond measure to each of these individual women, and to the men who love them.

There are surprising, explosive confrontations within the pages of this book, as villainous pirates attack during a pleasure cruise, and Emma witnesses the kind of unholy violence that was part of Peter’s history with Daniel and Lauren. Ultimately, safety comes from the sanctity of the bond that holds these characters together.

What held true for me as I read “Blue Sky Orphan” is the ebb and flow that takes place in each human heart, that constant movement taking us in and out of connection to the hearts of others.

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