Cover image for Blood roses
Blood roses
Baker, Jeanette.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Don Mills, Ont. : Mira, [2002]

Physical Description:
378 pages : map ; 18 cm
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X Adult Mass Market Paperback Central Closed Stacks

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Six years after witnessing her husband's murder--killed for defending IRA members in court--Kate Nolan believes she can make a difference in Northern Ireland's politics. But British investigator Neil Anderson reveals to Kate that her husband was not the man she thought. (August)

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

With this smoothly paced offering set amidst the Catholic and Protestant wars in present day Northern Ireland, historical romance author Baker (Nell) succeeds in crafting an emotionally charged political intrigue that informs while it entertains. Six years after witnessing her husband's murder, Kate Nolan and her teenaged children, Deirdre and Kevin, are still trying to overcome the horror of it all. Kate has immersed herself in her job as a Catholic civil rights activist for the British prime minister, Deirdre is a worrisome college student ever fearful and watchful, and Kevin has started to hang around with a drug dealing crowd. When Kevin is busted for possession, he's given a choice by Special Forces Officer Neil Anderson: become an informant or go to prison. Things take a darker turn when Kate learns that her husband may not have been the devoted husband and father she believed him to be; Neil forces Kevin into life-threatening situations involving terrorists; and Deirdre becomes infatuated with a Protestant student. Delivered with thoughtful exposition and flawless writing, this provocative book is built around Baker's personal experiences of Ireland, which lend her story a sense of immediacy and authenticity. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



The prime minister of England frowned at the woman seated before him. He was having second thoughts. Kathleen Nolan looked younger than her forty years, and much too attractive to take on the responsibility of the position he offered. Ireland was not a progressive country. A woman's voice was quickly silenced, drummed out by generations of violence, by men emasculated by unemployment and poverty. Politics, particularly politics in Great Britain, was still very much a man's world. Still, she was Patrick Nolan's widow. That would give her automatic credibility in the Nationalist community. She also came highly recommended by the first minister, a Protestant Loyalist who never recommended anyone. Quite simply, despite his doubts, there was no one else. He summoned his most charming grin. "The policing commission is a step in the right direction, Mrs. Nolan. It's the first step in a force for all of Northern Ireland. I can't think of anyone better suited for the position of police ombudsman than yourself." Kate Nolan wasn't easily intimidated nor was she prone to flattery, thanks to a mother who considered her most important role in life to expunge all signs of vanity in her oldest and loveliest daughter. Kate had learned her lesson well. It would take a great deal more than party manners, an engaging smile, and a compliment to win her compliance, even if the compliment did come from the prime minister of England. She smiled politely. "I appreciate your confidence, sir. I shall consider your offer carefully and report back to you by the end of next week." He blinked, swallowed a gasp and recovered quickly. "I had hoped to welcome you aboard a bit sooner." "How soon?" "Today." Kate tensed. "That's impossible." "Are you familiar with the Patten Report, Mrs. Nolan?" "Not intimately, although I understand the basics." "Tell me what you understand." She was silent for at least a minute before speaking. He watched her gather her thoughts and carefully form the words. It was a good sign, a woman who spoke thoughtfully, carefully, a woman not given to impulse. "Chris Patten and other nonpartisan members took fifteen months to craft a document spelling out how the Royal Ulster Constabulary, the Six Counties illustrious police force, should be restructured." He noticed she said the Six Counties rather than Northern Ireland . Her bias was Nationalist, no matter what Trimble said. But perhaps that was to be expected, considering who she was and what her husband had been. "Do you disagree with the findings of the report?" "Of course not," she said shortly. "No sane Catholic could possibly disagree considering where we are now." "But you have reservations." "Yes." Because she knew he would ask and because it needed to be said, she told him, ticking each one off on her fingers. "There is no prohibition of plastic bullets as there is in the rest of Britain. These are lethal weapons and have been used time and again against innocent Nationalists of Ulster. Secondly, there is no mention of the RUC's human rights violations. In fact, Chief Constable Finnigan is in charge of human rights violations, a conflict of interests if there ever has been. I object to the roles of Chief Constable Finnigan and Secretary of State Peter Mandelson. All accountability still rests with them." Her lip curled. "Your police board has very little power. I'm not convinced I wish to be part of a committee that has no ability to enforce, particularly when it comes to overseeing Robbie Finnigan. "Besides -" the corners of her mouth twisted bitterly "- everyone knows that in Ireland the most dimwitted man knows more than any woman." He allowed her the full strength of her emotions, saying nothing. He wished this Catholic-Protestant thing would fall into the ocean. Not that he had anything against Catholics. His own wife was a Catholic, although not the rabid, bitter kind found in the North of Ireland. "What if I said you had the power to enforce?" "I would ask you what that means." "Provision fourteen in the report allows for the board to call upon the chief constable to retire in the interests of efficiency and effectiveness." "Subject to the approval of the secretary of state." Her response was quick, loaded, definitely not the response of a woman who knew only the basics. He smiled pleasantly and changed the subject. "Is the investigation of your husband's murder progressing to your satisfaction, Mrs. Nolan?" Her lips tightened and a thin white line appeared around her mouth. "Six years have passed," she said slowly. " Progress isn't the word I would use." He had the grace to look embarrassed. "I'm truly sorry it hasn't been resolved." She relented. He watched her soften with more than a little relief. "The delay isn't your fault," she said. "I realize you haven't been prime minister for long. I deeply appreciate your interest and efforts, for my sake and for my children. For us, this must end sooner rather than later." "It must end with a conviction, Mrs. Nolan. The worst we can do is arrest someone without evidence enough for a guilty verdict. The eyes of the world will be on us through this one." "Patrick would have laughed to think he was worthy of so much attention." He pressed her. "Your husband would want you to take this position." "Yes," she said evenly. "He would. But there are other considerations now." The prime minister stood and held out his hand. Kate took it. "Please, make your decision quickly," he said. Without using her arms, she rose, gracefully, from the wing chair. "Have you anyone else in contention?" Once again, he grinned. He looked absurdly young and carefree for a man who'd inherited a powder keg. "Not a soul. I'm counting on you." "I may fail miserably, you know." He laughed, a boyish man with a ready smile, a head full of wavy dark hair, a wife he loved with regularity, and three young children. "Have you ever in your life failed at anything, Mrs. Nolan?" She stared at him astonished. "Of course." "What was it?" Kate thought a minute. "I'm sure I have as many failures as the next person. Perhaps I've blotted them from my memory." "Perhaps." The most powerful man in the kingdom winked at her. "I'm sure it will come to you. When it does, be sure and ring me up. I'll be anxiously waiting." Kate smiled politely. "Good day." "Good day, Mrs. Nolan." Excerpted from Blood Roses by Jeanette Baker Copyright © 2002 by Harlequin Enterprises Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.